Travel and mail tips for stress-free holidays

Looking for a stress-free holiday season? Here are travel and mail tips to help make that happen, says Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA).

“During this holiday season, CBSA is anticipating higher than normal volumes at its ports of entry and international mail processing centres. We are pleased to share a few tips to keep in mind this time of year as you travel and expect mail items from abroad,” it said in a media release.

Cross-border Travel Tips

Plan your border crossing – Check border wait times on the CBSA website or by using the CanBorder Border Wait Time App before leaving for your trip to pick the best route and cross at the least busy port of entry in the area. Complete the border reminder checklist to make sure you are prepared.

Nexus members can cross faster by using the Nexus lanes – Expedite the border clearance process by becoming a Nexus member. If you are travelling into Canada or the United States (U.S.) with non-Nexus members, you must use the regular lanes. Please visit the CBSA website for information on where Nexus land crossing lanes are available.

Know your purchases and keep travel documents handy – When returning to Canada know your personal exemptions and restrictions and make sure that each passenger has the correct travel document. Have your travel documents and receipts in hand when you arrive at the border. It is recommended you travel with a passport, as it is the only universally-recognized travel document.

Travelling with children – CBSA officers watch for missing children, and may ask detailed questions about any accompanying minors to identify the relationship between the child and the accompanying adult. When children are travelling with only one parent, or in situations of shared custody, the accompanying parent should carry a consent letter and contact information for the other parent, so that officers can follow up and confirm details if required. For more information, please consult the travel with minors section of the CBSA website.

Declare all purchases, acquisitions, and/or gifts received when entering Canada – Refer to the I Declare brochure on the CBSA website for more information. Goods that are shipped to a P.O. box in the U.S. must be declared and include a receipt showing the purchase price when entering Canada.

Travelling by land? Know the contents of your vehicle – Consult the CBSA website for information on firearms and other restricted and prohibited goods.

Travelling by air? – Since March 2017, upon arrival at selected major airports in Canada, travellers can use a primary inspection kiosk to verify their travel documents, confirm their identity and complete an on-screen declaration.

Use the CBSA e-declaration App – Those looking to save more time at airports can prepare their declaration in advance using the CanBorder – eDeclaration App and scan their quick response (QR) code at a kiosk upon arrival.

Not sure? Ask the CBSA officer – The single best thing you can do to save time entering Canada is to simply be open and honest with the CBSA officer. If you are not sure about what to declare, don’t hesitate to ask. The officers are there to help you.

Postal Tips

To facilitate and expedite the processing of goods, please share the following tips with friends and family abroad or for anyone in Canada expecting to receive international mail items including online purchases.

Expecting to receive a gift from abroad? – The person must send it to you personally and include a card or other notice indicating that it is a gift. Any gift to someone living in Canada is duty and tax free, provided its value is CDN$60 or less. For a gift of over CDN$60, applicable duties and/or taxes will be collected on the difference between the value of the gift and CDN$60. (For example, if the gift is valued at CDN$100, the duties and/or taxes assessed will be based upon the CDN$100 – CDN$60 = CDN$40 difference).

If food is being mailed to you – Please refer to the CBSA website for information related to food products allowances and restrictions.

Some items are restricted and prohibited goods – If prohibited goods are discovered, the CBSA will take appropriate enforcement action. If restricted goods are discovered, the CBSA will hold the items and inform you by mail that you need the proper import documents before the Agency can release them.

Cannabis – Don’t bring it in. Don’t take it out. Don’t mail it in. Don’t mail it out. Despite the fact that cannabis became legal and regulated in Canada, it remains illegal to take cannabis in any form – including any oils containing THC or cannabidiol (CBD) across Canada’s international borders, whether you are entering or leaving Canada. It also remains illegal to have cannabis mailed into Canada or have cannabis sent out of Canada, except under exceptional circumstances and with the approval of Health Canada. For more information, please consult cannabis (marijuana) legalization.

Gifts should not be wrapped – It is recommended that gifts not be wrapped as CBSA officers may need to examine them more in-depth. Border Services Officers examine mail to determine if the goods qualify to enter the country and if duties and taxes are due.

For more information, please visit the travel tips and importing by mail sections of the CBSA website or contact Border Information Service.

Quick Facts

Canada Post charges a handling fee to process goods imported by mail that is subject to duty and/or tax. If the item is duty-free and tax exempt, no amount is charged. For more information, please contact Canada Post.

Duty is a tariff payable on an item imported to Canada. Rates of duty are established by the Department of Finance Canada and can vary significantly from one trade agreement to another.

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