Government Advice: Tips for Travelers to Canada

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Government Advice: Tips for Travelers to Canada

Editor’s note: The information below was issued by the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs for October 2006. All data contained herein is subject to verification; the most current information is available by calling the U.S. State Department’s American Services and Crisis Management Center at 202-647-5225.














Millions of U.S. citizens visit Canada each year. We hope this brochure will help you avoid problems. If you should need assistance as a result of an accident, illness, or the loss of your passport, our Embassy in Ottawa and Consulates General in Halifax, Québec City, Montréal, Toronto, Calgary, and Vancouver are there to assist you.


Travel Safety Information

Consular Information Sheets are available for every country of the world. They describe entry requirements, currency regulations, unusual health conditions, the crime and security situation, political disturbances, areas of instability, and special information about driving and road conditions. They also provide addresses and emergency telephone numbers for U.S. embassies and consulates. In general, the sheets do not give advice. Instead, they describe conditions so travelers can make informed decisions about their trips.

In some dangerous situations, however, the Department of State recommends that Americans defer travel to a country. In such a case, a Travel Warning is issued for the country in addition to its Consular Information Sheet.

Public Announcements are a means to disseminate information about relatively short-term and/or trans-national conditions posing significant risks to the security of American travelers. They are issued when there is a perceived threat, even if it does not involve Americans as a particular target group. In the past, Public Announcements have been issued to deal with short-term coups, pre-election disturbances, terrorist violence and anniversary dates of specific terrorist events.

You can obtain Consular Information Sheets, Travel Warnings and Public Announcements in several ways.

Internet: The most convenient source of information about travel and consular services is the Consular Affairs home page. The website address is

Telephone: The Overseas Citizens Services call center can be reached at 1-888-407-4747 from a touchtone phone, from overseas the number is 202-501-4444.

From U.S. Passport Agencies & U.S. Embassies: Consular Information Sheets, Travel Warnings and Public Announcements are available at any of the regional passport agencies and U.S. embassies and consulates abroad.

Registration at U.S. Embassies or Consulates: Before you travel abroad, register with the Embassy or Consulate. This can be done on the web at You need to provide your itinerary, passport information and the name, address and phone number of an emergency contact.

After you arrive at your destination, you can either use the website to register or register in person at the nearest Embassy or Consulate. In accordance with the Privacy Act, information on your welfare or whereabouts may not be released to inquirers without your expressed written authorization. If you register in person, you should bring your U.S. passport with you. Your passport data will be recorded, thereby making it easier for you to apply for a replacement passport should it be lost or stolen.

Registration will make your presence and location known in case it is necessary to contact you in an emergency. Also, remember to leave a detailed itinerary and photocopies of your passport data page or other citizenship documents with a friend or relative in the United States.


New Requirements for Travelers Between the United States and Canada: Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI)

Effective January 23, 2007, all U.S. citizens traveling by air to and from Canada are required to have a valid passport to enter the United States. As early as January 1, 2008, U.S. citizens traveling between the United States and Canada by land or sea (including ferries), may be required to present a valid U.S. passport or other documents as determined by the Department of Homeland Security. Ample advance notice will be provided to enable the public to obtain passports or passport cards for land/sea entries. American citizen travelers are encouraged to apply for a U.S. passport or the passport card when it becomes available, well in advance of anticipated travel. American citizens can visit or call 1-877-4USA-PPT (1-877-487-2778) for information on applying for a passport.

Current Requirements for Entry Into Canada

Visas are not required for U.S. citizens entering Canada from the U.S. You will, however, need:

  • proof of your U.S. citizenship such as your U.S. passport (For information on obtaining a U.S. passport, check with one of the regional passport agencies located throughout the U.S.) or certified copy of your birth certificate issued by the city, county or state in the U.S. where you were born. If you are a naturalized U.S. citizen and do not have a passport, you should travel with your naturalization certificate. A driver’s license, voter’s registration card or Social Security card is NOT valid proof of citizenship.
  • photo identification, such as a current, valid driver’s license.

All U.S. citizens entering Canada from a third country must have a valid passport. Alien permanent residents of the U.S. must present their Alien Registration Card, commonly called a “Green Card.”

If you are a dual U.S./Canadian citizen you should always present yourself as a Canadian citizen when entering Canada. However, U.S. citizens should use their U.S. passports when entering or leaving the United States.

Due to international concern over child abduction, single parents, grandparents, or guardians traveling with children often need proof of custody or notarized letters from the other parent authorizing travel. (This is in addition to proof of citizenship as explained above.) Any person under the age of 18 and traveling alone should carry a letter from his/her parent or guardian authorizing the trip. Travelers without such documentation may experience delays at the port of entry.

For further information, including information on student or business travel, visitors can contact the Embassy of Canada at 501 Pennsylvania Ave, NW, Washington, DC 20001, (202) 682-1740, see their Internet home page at or contact the nearest Canadian consulate. (A list of Canadian consulates is at the end of this brochure.)


Under Canada’s temporary entry requirements, business visitors are foreign nationals who want to temporarily engage in international business activities in Canada for a period of up to six months. Detailed information can be found on the Canada International website at



Make certain that your insurance policy covers you during your time in Canada. Consider purchasing supplemental or other insurance if your own policy does not provide this coverage. You may also wish to check with your health insurance company to ensure that your policy includes coverage for medical evacuations to the United States as well as medical escort to the United States, hospitalization abroad, premature birth abroad, and other coverage for a beneficiary who is involved in an accident or illness outside the United States. Carry details of your insurance plan with you, and, leave a copy with a relative or friend at home.


For more information, please see our flyer, Medical Information for Americans Traveling Abroad at


If you are entering Canada with prescription drugs and syringes used for medical reasons, be sure to keep the medication in its original and labeled container to avoid problems. Syringes should be accompanied by a medical certificate that shows they are for medical use and should be declared to Canadian Customs officials. It may also be wise to carry with you an extra prescription from your doctor in the event your medication is lost or stolen and to attest to your need to take such prescriptions.


U.S. citizen visitors are not required to have an AIDS test prior to entering Canada.


Declare everything you are carrying including, meat, animal hides, live birds, plants and fruit. These items can harbor microscopic diseases and pests that can seriously harm Canada’s agriculture industry and environment. Administrative penalties of up to $400 may be imposed or prosecution may be pursued if you do not declare restricted or prohibited items. Inspectors of the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) work with specially trained detector dogs—to prevent the entry of plant and animal products prohibited by law.

Remember, the pest and disease situation around the world is constantly changing. Call the Canadian Embassy for the most current information before you travel.

The following items are allowed into Canada. All items must be clean and free of pests, soil and roots.

  • Cheese: Except if packed in whey, 20 kg/person to a maximum of $20
  • Baby formula: Commercially packaged
  • Seeds: Small seeds: 500 g/person, large seed (such as beans): 5 kg
  • Cut flowers: Except coniferous foliage/green cones. Must not be for propagation
  • Fresh fruit—tropical: 250 kg/person
  • Fruit and vegetables—frozen, canned or dried: 20 kg/person
  • Some fresh vegetables: Root crops are regulated. Contact CBSA
  • Herbs, spices, tea, coffee, condiments: Allowed
  • Baked goods, candy, etc.: Except those containing meat
  • Fish and seafood: All species except puffer fish and Chinese mitten crab (Eriocheir)
  • Leather goods and skins: Fully tanned hides and skins
  • Wood, carvings: Must be free of bark, insects

The following items are also allowed from the United States; however, proof of origin may be required. Plants, animals, and their products from outside of Canada may be prohibited, or may require additional documents before they are allowed entry into Canada. Meat and dairy products, nuts, plants, fruits and live animals, if allowed into Canada, may require permits issued in Canada in advance, and/or certificates from the country of origin.

Without required documents, entry is not permitted. Some products, plants or animals may be seized and disposed of, or ordered removed from Canada. Others may require treatment before they can stay. Travelers are responsible for all costs related to disposal, quarantine or treatment.

  • Dairy Products: $20/person
  • Temperate fruits (e.g. those grown in Canada): Restricted, contact CBSA
  • House Plants: Most mainland U.S. States
  • Coniferous wreaths, Christmas trees: Some mainland U.S. States
  • Conifers and garden plants: Restricted, contact CBSA
  • Meat—fresh/frozen/chilled and Meat products: jerky, sausages, deli meats, patties, etc.: 20 kg/person with specific limits of…

    a maximum of one whole turkey or 10 kilograms of turkey products; and

    a maximum of 10 kilograms of chicken; and

    a maximum of 5 kilograms of beef or veal.

  • Game animal carcasses: With hunter’s permit
  • Animal fat or suet: 20 kg/person

For current, comprehensive information on customs requirements for Canada, you can visit the Canada International website at


As long as you meet the age requirements set by the province or territory where you enter Canada, you can import, duty and tax free, one of the following: up to 1.5 liters of wine, or 1.14 liters of liquor, or 24 x 355 milliliter cans or bottles (8.6 liters) of beer or ale. Except in the Northwest Territories and Nunavut, you can bring in more than this free allowance of alcohol, as long as the quantities are within the limit set by the province or territory. However, the cost may be high, as you must pay both customs assessments and the provincial or territorial levies and taxes. If you plan to import more than the provincial limit, you must contact the provincial authority and obtain permission before you arrive. In most provinces, the limit is 9.1 liters (2 gallons). Some provinces do allow more.


If you meet the age requirements set by the province or territory where you enter Canada, you can import, duty and tax free, 200 cigarettes, 50 cigars, 200 grams of manufactured tobacco and 200 tobacco sticks. You may bring in additional quantities, but you must pay duties and taxes on the excess amount. In order to qualify for duty and tax-free entry, you must have these items with you when you enter Canada.

Endangered Species

Canada has signed an international agreement, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), to protect wild animals and plants and their parts or derivatives from over-exploitation in international trade. CITES operates through an import/export permit. However, goods that are controlled under CITES (except for live animals), which are part of a visitor or a seasonal resident’s clothing or accessories, or are contained in their personal baggage, and that they have owned and possessed in their ordinary country of residence, may be exempted from a CITES permit.

An individual must not sell or dispose of the CITES-controlled item within 90 days after the date on which the exemption is claimed.

For more information, contact:

Telephone: 1-800-668-6767 (toll free)

Web Site:

Email: [email protected]

Bringing Pets Into Canada

DOGS: Current, there is no quarantine for import of pet dogs. If you have several dogs, you may be asked to provide certification that they are your personal pets and not for resale. These conditions apply to temporary visits and intransit visits.

Dogs may enter Canada if accompanied by a valid rabies vaccination certificate issued, in either English or French, by a licensed veterinarian, which clearly identifies the dogs and shows that they are currently vaccinated against rabies. This certificate should identify the dog, as in breed, color, weight, etc., plus indicate the name of the licensed rabies vaccine used (trade name), serial number and duration of validity (up to 3 years). Please note if a validity date does not appear on the certificate, then it is considered a one-year vaccine.

There is no waiting period between the time the dog is vaccinated for rabies and the time it is imported into Canada.

If the above requirements are not met, an inspector will order the owner to have the dog vaccinated for rabies within a period of time specified in the order and to provide the vaccination certificate to an inspector, all at the owner’s expense.

Note: Rabies vaccination or certification is not required if the dogs are less than three (3) months of age.

SPECIAL PURPOSE DOGS: Service dogs that are certified as a guide, hearing or other service dog are not subject to any restrictions for importation where the person importing the dog is the user of the dog and accompanies the dog to Canada.

CATS: Currently, there is no quarantine for the import of pet cats. If you have several cats you may be asked to provide certification that they are your personal pets and are not for resale. Pet cats less than (three) 3 months of age do not require vaccination against rabies. These conditions apply to temporary visits and in-transit visits.

Cats may enter Canada if accompanied by a valid rabies vaccination certificate issued, in either English or French, by a licensed veterinarian, which clearly identifies the cats and shows that they are currently vaccinated against rabies. This certificate should identify the cat, as in breed, color, weight, etc., plus indicate the name of the licensed rabies vaccine used (trade name), serial number and duration of validity (up to 3 years). Please note if a validity date does not appear on the certificate, then it is considered a one-year vaccine.

There is no waiting period between the time the cat is vaccinated for rabies and the time it is imported into Canada.

If the above requirements are not met, an inspector will order the owner to have the cat vaccinated for rabies within a period of time specified in the order and to provide the vaccination certificate to an inspector, all at the owner’s expense.

BIRDS: For import purposes, a “pet bird” is a personally owned and cared for bird, and applies only to species commonly known as “caged” birds such as psittacines, love birds, song birds, toucans, canaries, finches, cardinals, etc. This does not apply to pigeons, doves, species of wild or domesticated fowl or game birds.

It is possible to import pet birds under the following conditions:

  • The birds must accompany the owner to Canada.
  • The birds must be found to be healthy when inspected at the port of entry.
  • The owner must sign a declaration stating that the birds have been in his/her possession for the (90) ninety-day period preceding the date of importation and have not been in contact with any other birds during that time.
  • The owner must sign a declaration stating that the birds are the owner’s personal pets and are not being imported for the purpose of re-sale.
  • The owner or any member of the family must not have imported birds into Canada under this pet bird provision during the preceding 90 day period.

The necessary certification to clear Customs will be made by filling out the form, available at Customs. Under the above arrangement, no import permit or quarantine period is required. If these conditions cannot be met, it will be necessary for you to obtain an import permit from the appropriate Canadian Food Inspection Agency regional office in the province into which you will be entering.

OTHER PETS: For specific information on the importation of other kinds of pets into Canada, see the Canadian government website at


Canada’s firearms laws make Canada safer for residents and visitors. Contact one of the Canadian customs offices or a Canadian Chief Firearms Officer (CFO) for detailed, specific information before you import a firearm. In general, you must be at least 18 years of age to bring a firearm into Canada. Those younger than 18, may use a firearm in certain circumstances, but an adult must remain responsible for the firearm.

Prohibited Firearms

You cannot import prohibited firearms, or any prohibited weapons or devices, including silencers and replica firearms. A prohibited firearm is:

  • a handgun with a barrel length of 105 mm (4.1 inches) or less;
  • a handgun designed or adapted to discharge 25 or 32 caliber ammunition;
  • a rifle or shotgun that has been altered to make it less than 660 mm (26 inches) in overall length;
  • a rifle or shotgun that has been altered to make the barrel length less than 457 mm (18 inches) where the overall firearm length is 660 mm (26 inches) or more;
  • an automatic firearm and a converted automatic firearm;
  • any firearm prescribed as prohibited.

Replica firearms, except for replicas of antique firearms, are prohibited and cannot be brought into Canada. Replica firearms are devices that look exactly or almost exactly like a real firearm but that cannot discharge a projectile or that can only discharge harmless projectiles. As a rule, to be prohibited, a device must closely resemble an existing make and model of firearm, not just a generic firearm. Many of these devices have to be assessed case by case.

Certain handguns for use in international sporting competitions are excluded from the prohibition affecting the short-barreled and 25 or 32 caliber handguns. These handguns therefore are considered restricted firearms under the Criminal Code. A list of these firearms can be found online at

Restricted Firearms

A restricted firearm is:

  • a handgun that is not a prohibited firearm;
  • a semi-automatic, centre-fire rifle or shotgun with a barrel length less than 470 mm (18.5 inches) that is not prohibited;
  • a rifle or shotgun that can fire when its overall length is reduced by folding, telescoping or some other means to less than 660 mm (26 inches);
  • any firearm prescribed as restricted (including some long guns).

A list of restricted firearms can also be found online at

Declaring Firearms

You need to declare your firearms in writing, in triplicate, using the Non-Resident Firearm Declaration (Form CAFC 909),

If you are bringing more than three firearms, attach a Non-Resident Firearm Declaration Continuation Sheet (Form CAFC 910),

Fill out the declaration form ahead of time to save time at the point of entry. However, wait until you arrive at the point of entry to sign the form because a customs officer must witness your signature.

Once the customs officer has confirmed your declaration, it serves as a license and temporary registration certificate for all the firearms you bring to Canada. It is valid for 60 days. You can renew your declaration at no additional fee, if you renew it before it expires, by contacting the CFO of the province or territory where you are staying. To renew it, call 1-800-731-4000.

A confirmed declaration costs a flat fee of $25, regardless of the number of firearms listed on it. It is only valid for the person who signs it and for those firearms listed on the declaration. If you come with others who will be using firearms in Canada, you will each need to meet these requirements. When you bring a firearm to Canada, you must comply with the Storage, Display, Transportation and Handling of Firearms by Individuals Regulations. These regulations can be found on the Canadian Department of Justice website at

To be able to bring a restricted firearm to Canada in person, you will need to obtain an Authorization to Transport (ATT) from the CFO of the province where you will be entering Canada. If you are bringing firearms with you and declaring them with a Non-Resident Firearm Declaration, you will need to wait until your declaration has been confirmed, before you call the CFO to request an ATT.

You can reach any of the CFOs Monday to Friday, from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. local time, by calling 1-800-731-4000. Keep these hours of operation in mind when making your travel arrangements. If you are unable to arrange your arrival time to coincide with the CFO office hours of operation, you may wish to call the CFO in advance to see if you can make other arrangements to obtain an ATT. For more information on how to legally bring firearms and ammunition into Canada, contact the Canada Firearms Centre:

Telephone: 1-800-731-4000 (toll free)
Web Site:
E-mail:[email protected]

Application forms for non-resident firearms declarations and temporary borrowing licenses may also be obtained from Canadian tourist offices, customs offices, gun clubs and outfitters.

For information on the declaration process, please call the Canada Border Services Agency at 1-204-983-3500 or 1-506-636-5064.

Other Weapons

Some other types of weapons are also prohibited in Canada. Prohibited weapons include switchblades, butterfly knives and many martial arts weapons. The complete list includes:

  • knives with retractable or folding blades which, by design or through wear, will open by centrifugal force or gravity, or by a spring or similar device. This has been interpreted by the courts to include a butterfly knives;
  • nunchaku or similar objects made up of hard, non-flexible sticks linked by a flexible length of chain. This includes objects where the sticks are replaced by, for example, pipes or other rigid pieces, and where the chain is replaced by rope, wire or other flexible material;
  • shuriken or similar objects which are made of a hard, non-flexible material in an essentially two-dimensional regular geometric form with one or more sharp edges;
  • manrikigusari or kusari or similar objects which are made up of geometrically-shaped hard weights or hand grips linked by rope, chain, wire or other flexible material;
  • a push dagger, namely a knife where the blade is perpendicular to the handle;
  • any item under 30 centimeters which looks like another object but which conceals a blade;
  • spiked wristbands;
  • blow guns;
  • manually-triggered telescoping spring-loaded steel whips;
  • morning stars or similar items consisting of a ball of metal or similar heavy material studded with spikes and connected to a handle by a length of rope, chain, wire or other flexible material;
  • brass knuckles or similar items.

Penalties, even for possession of such weapons, range from confiscation and fines to imprisonment.


U.S. citizens do not need to obtain an international driver’s license to drive in Canada. Your valid U.S. license is good for trips in Canada as long as you are a visitor and are actually resident in the U.S. Should you wish information on provincial traffic laws, please contact the Department of Transport, Motor Vehicle Division of the particular province you wish to visit. You may also contact the American Automobile Association (AAA), website at, or the Canadian Automobile Association (CAA), website, if you are a member. The CAA covers AAA members while traveling in Canada. Be sure to carry proof of your car insurance.

Please note, the island of Montréal prohibits right turns on red, while the rest of Canada and the rest of Québec, allow it.


If hunting or fishing in wilderness areas, unless you are using a local professional guide, leave detailed itineraries with family members. There have been several cases of hunters going missing in far northern Québec. For information on safety in Canada’s parks, visit the Parks Canada website at


Consular Assistance

Please dial 1-900-451-2778 for information on how to reach each U.S. consular section in Canada to report the death, injury, or arrest of an American citizen. There is a fee of $2.00 Canadian per minute for a live operator. Recordings specific to each Consulate General provide guidance on how to reach a duty officer after hours as well.

The 900 line service also provides valuable information regarding U.S. passport services in Canada, registration of births for U.S. citizens born in Canada, claims to U.S. citizenship, notarial services, tax information, voting procedures, Social Security, U.S. Customs, and Travel Warnings. This service requires a touchtone phone. General information on consular assistance is available on the Internet at

Wiring Money

In the event you encounter a financial emergency, your relatives or friends can wire you money in Canada. Western Union Wire services allow money to be picked up through local money mart centers, mailboxes, and some grocery stores. Funds are paid in Canadian dollars. In addition, many U.S. automated teller machine (ATM) cards, such as those on the PLUS or CIRRUS system, can be used throughout Canada to obtain Canadian funds on your U.S. bank account.


It is important to respect the laws of Canada while you are a guest in their country.


Penalties for possession, use, and dealing in illegal drugs are strict in Canada. Convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and fines.

Drunk Driving

Driving under the influence of alcohol is a serious offense. Penalties are heavy, and any prior conviction (no matter how long ago or how minor the infraction) is cause for exclusion from Canada.

A waiver of exclusion may be obtained from a Canadian consulate in the United States, but several weeks are required. There is a processing fee for the waiver.

Automobile Radar Detectors

Three provinces do not prohibit radar detectors. They are British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan. All the rest (including the territories) do prohibit radar detectors. The police will confiscate radar detectors, whether in use or not, and may impose fines up to $1000.

Previous Convictions

Section 19 of Canada’s Immigration Act prohibits the admission of people who pose a threat to public health, safety, order, and national security. Prior to attempting a border crossing, American citizens who have had a criminal conviction in the past must contact the nearest Canadian embassy or consulate well in advance to determine their admissibility as visitors into Canada. If found inadmissible, an immigration officer will advise whether a waiver (Minister’s Permit) is possible.


Many American citizens are currently incarcerated in Canadian prisons. American citizens who are arrested in Canada will be informed by the police of the right to contact the American Embassy or one of the Consulates General. When notified, a consular officer will contact the citizen by phone, and subsequently make a personal visit. Collect calls will be accepted by the U.S. Embassy or Consulates General if coming from a U.S. citizen for the initial notification of arrest.

U.S. consular officers can provide lists of lawyers from each local area, but cannot recommend a particular lawyer and cannot act as a legal representative on behalf of the arrestee. Arrestees are responsible for their own legal fees. Under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Correctional Service of Canada’s mission, foreign national offenders are afforded the same rights and privileges as any Canadian offender including bail following arrest, and conditional release where serving a sentence. However, where the release of foreign national offenders is deemed to constitute an undue risk of flight or a threat to the security of the Canadian community, any such release may be difficult or precluded.

Under the Treaty on the Execution of Penal Sentences signed by the U.S. and Canada in l977, and other transfer of offender agreements, prisoners may request to be transferred to an American prison.

Prescription Drugs

If you are importing prescription drugs, make sure they are clearly identified. The drugs should be in the original packaging, with a label that specifies what they are and that they are being used under prescription. If this is not possible, carry a copy of the prescription or a letter from your doctor.

Tax Rebates for Visitors

When you leave Canada, you may be eligible for a tax refund on the goods that you bought in Canada if you take them out of the country within 60 days. For further information, get a copy of the pamphlet called Tax Refund for Visitors to Canada from the Canada Revenue Agency website at


You can import gifts for relatives and friends in Canada duty free and tax free, as long as each gift is valued at CAN$60 or less. If the gift is worth more than CAN$60, you will have to pay duties and taxes on the excess amount. You cannot claim alcoholic beverages, tobacco products or advertising matter as gifts.

Where to Find Consular Assistance While in Canada

The State Department maintains a number of diplomatic offices in Canada. The U.S. Embassy is located in Ottawa, and there are U.S. Consulates General in Calgary, Halifax, Montréal, Québec City, Vancouver, and Toronto. At each of these offices, there are U.S. consular officers available to help you with problems. These offices, in cooperation with the Office of Overseas Citizens Services at the State Department in Washington, D.C., provide a range of services to resolve problems during your visit to Canada. The services include:

  • assist in the event you are a victim of crime, become ill, are arrested, die abroad, or are involved in a disaster;
  • communicate with friends and relatives in the event of an emergency, and help with arrangements for emergency fund transfers;
  • notarize documents;
  • issue U.S. passports and Reports of Birth of U.S. citizens born abroad.

Street Address
Embassy of the United States
Consular Section
490 Sussex Drive
Ottawa, Ontario
K1N 1G8

Mailing Address
Consular Section
American Embassy
PO Box 866, Station B
Ottawa, Ontario
K1P 5T1
Telephone: (613) 688-5335
Web site at

Consular district includes Baffin Island, the following counties in eastern Ontario: Lanark, Leeds, Prescott, Renfrew, Russell and Stormont; and the following counties in western Québec: Gatineau, Hull, Labelle, Papineau, Pontiac and Tamiscamingue.

U.S. Consulate General
615 Macleod Trail, SE
Calgary, Alberta
T2G 4T8
Telephone: (403) 266-8962
Emergency after hours: (403) 266-8962, then press ‘0’

Consular district includes Alberta, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and the Northwest Territories, excluding Nunavut.

U.S. Consulate General
Suite 904, Purdy’s Wharf Tower II
1969 Upper Water Street
Halifax, NS
B3J 3R7
Telephone: (902) 429-2480
Emergency after hours: (902) 429-2485

Consular district includes New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and the French islands of Saint Pierre and Miquelon.

Street Address
U.S. Consulate General
1155 St. Alexander Street
Montréal, Québec, H3B 1Z1

Mailing Address
U.S. Consulate General
P.O. Box 65, Station Desjardins
Montréal, QC H5B 1G1
Telephone: (514) 398-9695
Emergency after hours: (514) 981-5059

Consular district includes southwestern Québec with the exception of the six counties served by the U.S. Embassy in Ottawa.

U.S. Consulate
2 Place Terrasse Dufferin,
Québec, Que., G1R 4T9
Telephone: (418) 692-2095
Emergency after hours: (418) 692-2096

Consular district includes the counties of Abitibi-West, Abitibi-East, St. Maurice, Trois-Rivières, Nicolet, Wolfe, Frontenac and all other counties to the north or east within the province of Québec and the Nunavut Territory.

U.S. Consulate General
360 University Avenue
Toronto, Ont., M5G 1S4
Telephone: (416) 595-1700
Emergency after hours: (416) 201-4100

Consular district includes the province of Ontario except the six counties served by the U.S. Embassy in Ottawa.


U.S. Consulate General
1075 West Pender Street,
Vancouver, BC, V6E 4E9
Telephone: (604) 685-4311

Consular district includes British Columbia and the Yukon Territory.



A U.S. passport is proof of both citizenship and identity. Persons who are dual nationals should enter the U.S. using U.S. documents only, as they could be fined under U.S. law for entering the U.S. on a foreign passport. U.S. citizens returning to the U.S. via air or bus who lack proof of citizenship should contact the U.S. Embassy or nearest U.S. consulate for assistance.

U.S. Customs

The duty-free exemption, also called the personal exemption, is the total value of merchandise you may bring back to the United States without having to pay duty. You may bring back more than your exemption, but you will have to pay duty on it. For Mexico, the personal exemption is $800, but there are some exceptions to this rule. There are limits on the amount of alcoholic beverages, cigarettes, cigars, and other tobacco products you may include in your duty-free personal exemption.

The duty-free exemptions apply if:

  • The items are for your personal or household use or intended to be given as bonafide gifts.
  • They are in your possession, that is, they accompany you when you return to the United States. Items to be sent later may not be included in your $800 duty-free exemption.
  • They are declared to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). If you do not declare something that should have been declared, you risk forfeiting it. If in doubt, declare it.
  • You are returning from an overseas stay of at least 48 hours. For example, if you leave the United States at 1:30 p.m. on June 1, you would complete the 48-hour period at 1:30 p.m. on June 3.
  • You have not used all of your exemption allowance, or used any part of it, in the past 30 days—for example, if you go to Canada and bring back $150 worth of items—you must wait another 30 days before you are allowed another $800 exemption.
  • The items are not prohibited or restricted.

Tobacco: Travelers may import previously exported tobacco products only in quantities not exceeding the amounts specified in exemptions for which the traveler qualifies. Any quantities of previously exported tobacco products not permitted by an exemption will be seized and destroyed. These items are typically purchased in duty-free stores, on carriers operating internationally, or in foreign stores. These items are usually marked “Tax Exempt. For Use Outside the United States,” or “U.S. Tax Exempt For Use Outside the United States.”

For example, a returning resident is eligible for the $800 exemption, which includes not more than 200 cigarettes and 100 cigars. If the resident declares 400 previously exported cigarettes, the resident would be permitted 200 cigarettes, tax-free under the exemption and the remaining 200 previously exported cigarettes would be confiscated. If the resident declares 400 cigarettes, of which 200 are previously exported and 200 not previously exported, the resident would be permitted to import the 200 previously exported cigarettes tax free under the exemption and the resident would be charged duty and tax on the remaining 200 foreign-made cigarettes. The tobacco exemption is available to each adult. Except for information and informational materials, no traveler (whether traveling legally under an Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) license or traveling illegally without an OFAC license) may import Cuban origin goods, including Cuban cigars, unless authorized to do so by a specific license issued by OFAC.

Alcoholic Beverages: One liter (33.8 fl. oz.) of alcoholic beverages may be included in your exemption if:

  • You are 21 years old.
  • It is for your own use or as a gift.
  • It does not violate the laws of the state in which you arrive.
  • Federal regulations allow you to bring back more than one liter of alcoholic beverage for personal use, but, as with extra tobacco, you will have to pay duty and Internal Revenue Service tax.

While Federal regulations do not specify a limit on the amount of alcohol you may bring back for personal use, unusual quantities are liable to raise suspicions that you are importing the alcohol for other purposes, such as for resale. CBP officers are authorized by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) to make onthe-spot determinations that an importation is for commercial purposes, and may require you to obtain a permit to import the alcohol before releasing it to you. If you intend to bring back a substantial quantity of alcohol for your personal use, you should contact the port through which you will be re-entering the country, and make prior arrangements for entering the alcohol into the United States.

Also, you should be aware that state laws might limit the amount of alcohol you can bring in without a license. If you arrive in a state that has limitations on the amount of alcohol you may bring in without a license, that state law will be enforced by CBP, even though it may be more restrictive than federal regulations. We recommend that you check with the state government before you go abroad about their limitations on quantities allowed for personal importation and additional state taxes that might apply.

In brief, for both alcohol and tobacco, the quantities listed as being eligible for duty-free treatment may be included in your $800 exemption, just as any other purchase would be. But unlike other kinds of merchandise, amounts beyond those discussed here as being duty-free are taxed, even if you have not exceeded, or even met, your personal exemption. For example, if your exemption is $800 and you bring back three liters of wine and nothing else, two of those liters will be dutiable. Federal law prohibits shipping alcoholic beverages by mail within the United States.

Money and Other Monetary Instruments: You may bring into or take out of the country, including by mail, as much money as you wish. However, if it is more than $10,000, you will need to report it to CBP. Ask the CBP officer for the Currency Reporting Form (FinCen 105). The penalties for non-compliance can be severe.

“Money” means monetary instruments and includes U.S. or foreign coins currently in circulation, currency, travelers’ checks in any form, money orders, and negotiable instruments or investment securities in bearer form.

Visit the U.S. Customs website at for specific, detailed information.

Importation of Food, Plant, and Animal Products Into the U.S.: The U.S. Department of Agriculture establishes criteria for the admissibility of plant, dairy and meat products returning with travelers and has the final say about what may be admitted into the U.S. Disease and pest outbreaks, which impact the admissibility status of fresh and packaged food items, occur all over the world at a moments notice. For the most current information, contact the USDA at 301-734-8896.

Failure to declare all food products can result in civil penalties.

Because CBP inspectors are stationed at ports of entry and along our land and sea borders, they are often called upon to enforce laws and requirements of other government agencies. Because of the complexities of regulations governing the importation of food, CBP officers may need to contact an expert for information about what is or is not admissible. If no expert is available, food may be detained in the interest of preventing possible food-borne diseases into the U.S. This is done to protect community health, preserve domestic plant and animals life, etc.

Bakery items, candy, chocolate, and cured cheese are generally admissible. Canned goods and goods in vacuum-packed jars (other than those containing meat or poultry products) are also generally admissible if being imported for personal use.

Dairy items such as milk, yogurt, butter are generally admissible, although this is subject to change, depending on disease outbreaks. Eggs may be admissible, although frequent outbreaks of Exotic Newcastles Disease and avian flu make it very likely that they will be denied entry. Hard cured cheese such as parmesan or cheddar are generally admissible, soft cheeses such as brie and soft curd cheese and cheese in water (ricotta, feta, etc.) are not.

Fish, if it is for your personal use, is generally admissible.

Condiments such as oil, vinegar, mustard, catsup, pickles, syrup, honey, jelly, jam, etc., are generally admissible.

Many fruits and vegetables are either prohibited from entering the United States or require an import permit (for commercial importers) or a phytosanitary certificate from the country of origin. Every fruit or vegetable must be declared to a CBP Officer and must be presented for inspection—no matter how free of pests it appears to be. Failure to declare food products can result in a $10,000 fine.

Fruits and vegetables grown in Canada are generally admissible, if they have labels identifying them as products of Canada. Fruits and vegetables merely purchased in Canada are not necessarily admissible, i.e., citrus or tropical fruits such as mangos, which clearly were not grown in Canada because it does not have a climate that supports those crops. (Potatoes from western regions of Canada are currently restricted because of a disease outbreak. While commercial imports are permitted under stringent guidelines, travelers from Canada should avoid bringing raw potatoes with them into the US).

Meats, livestock, poultry, and their products are either prohibited or restricted from entering the United States, depending on the animal disease condition in the country of origin.

Currently, NO RUMINANT PRODUCTS FROM CANADA MAY ENTER THE U.S. without a permit. This includes frozen, cooked, canned or otherwise processed beef, lamb, and veal. Hunter harvested game is admissible from Canada for the traveler’s personal use if accompanied with a permit. For more information on hunter-harvested game visit the USDA website at Poultry, pork, milk, butter and cured cheeses (Cheddar, etc.) and eggs are permitted entry. However, all such products must be in packages clearly marked with Canada (or the U.S.) as the country of origin. If there is any question as to the country of origin, the product will be denied entry. Pet food with meat byproducts is not admissible as traveler’s baggage.


Canadian Embassy

501 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20001
Telephone: 202-682-1740
Web site

Consulate of Canada
310 K Street, Suite 200
Anchorage, AK 99501
Telephone: 907-264-6734

The Consulate General of Canada
1175 Peachtree Street
100 Colony Square Suite 1700
Atlanta, GA 30361-6205
Telephone: 404-532-2000

The Consulate General of Canada
Three Copley Place, Suite 400
Boston, MA 02116
Telephone: 617-262-3760

Consulate General of Canada
HSBC Center, Suite 3000
Buffalo, NY 14203-2884
Telephone: 716-858-9500

The Consulate General of Canada
Two Prudential Plaza
180 North Stetson Avenue, Suite 2400
Chicago, IL 60601
Telephone: 312-616-1860

Consulate General of Canada
750 North St. Paul Street, Suite 1700
Dallas, TX 75201
Telephone: 214-922-9806

Consulate General of Canada
1625 Broadway, Suite 2600
Denver, CO 80202
Telephone: 303-626-0640

Consulate General of Canada
600 Renaissance Center, Suite 1100
Detroit, MI 482-43-1798
Telephone: 313-567-2340

Consulate of Canada
5847 San Felipe Street, Suite 1700
Houston, Texas 77057
Telephone: 713-821-1440

Consulate General of Canada
550 South Hope Street, 9th Floor
Los Angeles, CA 90071-2627
Telephone: 213-346-2700

Consulate General of Canada
Suite 1600, First Union Financial Center
200 South Biscayne Blvd.
Miami, FL 33131
Telephone: 305-579-1600

Consulate General of Canada
701 Fourth Avenue South, Suite 901
Minneapolis, MN 55415-1899
Telephone: 612-332-7486

Consulate General of Canada
1251 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10020-1175
Telephone: 212-596-1628

Consulate of Canada
1500 John F. Kennedy Blvd.
Suite 200, Two Penn Center
Philadelphia, PA 19102
Telephone: 215-854-6380

Consulate of Canada
2415 East Camelback Road Suite 740
Phoenix, AZ 85016
Telephone: 602-508-3572

Consulate of Canada
3737 Glenwood Avenue, Suite 100
Raleigh, North Carolina 27612
Telephone: 919-573-1808

Consulate of Canada
402 West Broadway, Suite 400
San Diego, California 92101
Telephone: 619-615-4286

Consulate General of Canada
580 California Street, 14th floor
San Francisco, CA 94104
Telephone: 415-834-3180

Consulate General of Canada
333 West San Carlos Street, Suite 945
San Jose, CA 95110
Telephone: 408-289-1157

Consulate General of Canada
412 Plaza 600 Building
Sixth Avenue and Stewart Street
Seattle, WA 98101-1286
Telephone: 206-443-1777

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Government Advice: Tips for Travelers to Canada

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Government Advice: Tips for Travelers to Canada