All international mail is subject to the Customs regulations and laws of both the country of origin and the country of destination. There are three different types of Customs requirements to be aware of:
Items shipped outside of Canada must have the proper customs documentation. The customs documentation that is required for an item shipped from Canada depends on the International service used, the content of the item and the destination. Customs and item content information must be written in English or French and can be translated into the language of the destination country. In the case of Priority™ Worldwide, forms must be completed in English or with an English translation.
Please note it is the customer’s responsibility to ensure that all customs documentation and item content information (including any applicable licenses, certificates, or invoices) for the goods being shipped are provided and are complete, accurate and legible. Failure to do so may result in the item being returned to sender at the customer's expense, or could result in delays, non-delivery, voided delivery guarantee, if applicable, fines and /or customs seizure in the international destination.
For information on restricted items, prohibited items and required documentation by destination, see the International Destination Listing.
Shipping documentation may be transmitted to or shared with domestic or international customs and postal administrations or designated postal operators. For more information about Canada Post's personal information practices; please go online to canadapost.ca/privacy.
All items must conform to the packaging requirements of Canada Post, and must not contain dangerous or prohibited materials. Please refer to Section 6 Dangerous Goods of Non-mailable Matter for additional information regarding Dangerous products.
In May of 2014, Canada Post introduced the requirement to collect and transmit electronic package content information, in advance of the physical item. This data is used by customs in the international destination to facilitate customs clearance and improve processing of the item.
Advanced electronic data is mandatory to select destinations for the following services: Xpresspost - USA, Expedited Parcel - USA, Xpresspost - International (excluding prepaid), International Parcel (air and surface) and Tracked Packet.
The term “postal import” applies to all merchandise that is mailed from outside Canada. In Canada, the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) administers customs regulations and other government regulations.
For additional information regarding dangerous items, refer to Non-Mailable Matter. Questions regarding prohibited items should be directed to the CBSA. Visit the CBSA website at cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/publications/dm-md/d9-eng.html for additional information.
Unclaimed items or items with unpaid customs or import duties will be returned to sender after 30 days and may carry a return charge. Mail marked “ABANDON” by the sender, if undeliverable, will not be returned but will be disposed of by Canada Post.
Any item mailed into Canada is potentially subject to duty and/or taxes with few exceptions. Visit the CBSA website at cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/import/postal-postale/menu-eng.html for more information on mail imports. The CBSA collects provincial sales taxes (PST) on most taxable imports valued at over $20CAD entering Quebec, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and British Columbia. The CBSA also collects Harmonized Sales Taxes (HST) on most taxable imports entering Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, and Ontario.
A handling fee of $9.95CAD per dutiable or taxable mail item is applied. This fee is in line with the government’s efforts to help recover costs from those who benefit from services, and is similar to arrangements in the United States and other countries.
Mail items containing merchandise enter Canada through CBSA screening centres, are inspected by CBSA Officers and assessed for applicable customs duties, taxes and charges. If duties and/or taxes are owed, items will be delivered along with the E14 Customs Invoice indicating the amount that the addressee must pay before the package can be released to them. Canada Post collects the fees on behalf of the CBSA and accepts the following methods of payment:
The CBSA does not assess duty or tax on mail items valued at $20CAD or less. However, this general rule does not apply to certain products including intoxicating beverages, cigars, cigarettes, manufactured tobacco, and publications where the supplier is required to register under the Excise Tax Act. Also, this may not be combined with other exemptions.
Gifts from friends and relatives, valued at $60CAD or less, are duty and tax exempt. In cases where the gift is valued at more than $60CAD, the CBSA will assess duties and taxes on the excess amount. The gift must be sent to the recipient personally and include a card or other notice indicating that it is a gift. Items that do not qualify as gifts include:
Customs duty may not apply to certain products or products manufactured in certain countries. For example, there are generally no customs duties applicable to products that qualify under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). However, in most cases the Goods and Services Tax (GST) is still applied to these products.
It should be noted that if option 1 above is used, the item will not be released for delivery until the CBSA has completed its review. Therefore, you may wish to consider option 2 because you will receive the item while the appeal is processed. Visit the CBSA website at http://cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/publications/dm-md/d5/d5-1-1-eng.pdf for additional information regarding appeals/adjustments.
Unlike prohibited items, controlled products may enter Canada but are subject to special requirements which often include the requirement for an import permit. If these requirements are not met, the product may not be allowed to enter Canada. Controlled products include tobacco, prescription drugs, certain foods, plants, seeds, animal parts, currency and goods listed in the Import Control List.
Before you import goods into Canada by mail, you should check to make sure they're not prohibited or controlled. It is the customers’ responsibility to be aware of any specific requirements or documentation required. Customers requiring specific information on products can contact the relevant department directly:
With respect to the Tobacco Act, there are specific requirements for the sale of tobacco products in Canada depending on the type of tobacco product being imported for sale. It is recommended that you contact Health Canada Tobacco Control Program for additional details should you be considering the importation of tobacco products for sale in Canada.
CANADIAN BORDER SERVICES AGENCY
For information regarding the importing or mailing of intoxicating beverages, refer to the federal Importation of Intoxicating Liquors Act and contact the provincial liquor board. The Importation of Intoxicating Liquors Act can be found on the Department of Justice website. Importers can also refer to the CBSA website at www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/publications/dm-md/d3/d3-1-3-eng.pdf for information on importing intoxicating beverages through the mail.
Foreign currency and monetary instruments with a value of $10,000CAD or more mailed into Canada must include form E667 (Cross-Border Currency or Monetary Instruments Report-General) and have a Customs Declaration CN23 affixed to the item.
Visit cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/travel-voyage/ttd-vdd-eng.html for more information.
The importation of drugs is strictly regulated. Narcotics, controlled and restricted drugs may only be imported or exported by a pharmaceutical manufacturer or distributor or other person licensed by the Minister of National Health and Welfare. The importer/owner or exporter must possess a valid permit, issued by the Health Canada, for the shipment concerned.
Many food products require an import permit and/or other documentation in order to enter Canada. To determine if there are special requirements for specific foods, consult http://inspection.gc.ca/english/fssa/impe.shtml or contact the CBSA at 1-800-461-9999.
The documentation required to import these products depends upon the specific product and the country or State that it is arriving from. In most cases a permit of some type is required. For specific information, please visit http://cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/publications/dm-md/d19/d19-1-1-eng.pdf or http://inspection.gc.ca/english/imp/airse.shtml or contact the CBSA. There are also requirements to comply with policies regarding wood packaging materials. Most wood packaging material must be accompanied by a Phytosanitary Certificate. However, wood packaging material from China is no longer allowed into Canada unless an IPPC mark is clearly denoted to indicate treatment certification. For more information on requirements with regards to wood packaging material, please visit http://inspection.gc.ca/english/plaveg/protect/dir/d-98-08e.shtml.
The CBSA Border Information Service (BIS) line responds to public enquiries related to food, plant and animal import requirements. You can access BIS free of charge throughout Canada by calling 1-800-461-9999. If you are calling from outside Canada, you can access BIS by calling 1-204-983-3500 or 1-506-636-5064 (long-distance charges will apply).
Rough diamond imports must be accompanied by a Kimberley Process Certificate validated by the government of the country of export. The certificate must also accompany rough diamonds in transit across Canada to another country. Each shipment requires a distinct certificate. A shipment may consist of several containers. Importers must present the Kimberley Process Certificate to a CBSA Officer at the point of entry in Canada. For more information, visit http://www.nrcan.gc.ca/mining-materials/kimberley-process/8222?destination=node/4146 or contact the:
1-613-225-2342 / 1-800-442-2342
Certain medical/biological materials are permitted provided that they are properly packaged, identified and are not infectious, poisonous or otherwise prohibited under the Transportation of Dangerous Goods Act, Food and Drugs Act or any other applicable law.
All mail containing merchandise must have a Customs Declaration form completed when sending the item to the U.S.A. or an international destination (see Section 1.1 Customs declaration requirements). The Customs Declaration forms part of the Canada Post shipping label and also includes the addressee and sender names and addresses.
It is customer’s responsibility to ensure that all customs documentation and item content information and certificates for the goods being shipped are provided and are complete, accurate and legible. Failure to do so may result in the item being returned to sender at the customer's expense, or could result in delays, non-delivery, voided guarantee, if applicable, fines and /or customs seizure in the international destination.
If in doubt as to whether an item requires an export permit, contact the appropriate government department listed in Section 2.3.1 Import permits and other documentation. For products on the Export Control List, please refer to http://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/regulations/SOR-89-202/FullText.html to determine if an export permit is required.
Certain products may also require a permit or other documentation in order to be imported into the country of destination. See International Destination Listing for specific information.
Certain dangerous products are prohibited from the mail whether being imported, destined to other countries or sent domestically. Please refer to Section 6 Dangerous Goods of Non-mailable Matter for additional information regarding dangerous products. Also, some items may be prohibited from entering the country of destination. See International Destination Listing for specific information by destination.
To determine if the valuable items are acceptable in the destination country, see International Destination Listing.
An Export Declaration B13A should not be confused with the Customs Declaration form referred to in Section 1.1 Customs declaration requirements. A Customs Declaration form must be completed for any mail containing merchandise that is sent to a destination outside Canada.
Foreign currency and monetary instruments with a value of $10,000CAD or more mailed out of the country must include form E667 (Cross-Border Currency or Monetary Instruments Report-General). The customer must submit or forward a copy of form E667 to the nearest Canada Border Services Agency office, at the same time as or in advance of mailing the item.
Visit cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/travel-voyage/ttd-vdd-eng.html to access the online CBSA Customs form.
Exporters must present a Canadian Kimberley Process Certificate at the time of export. Each shipment of rough diamonds requires a distinct Canadian Kimberley Process Certificate. A shipment may consist of several containers. The CBSA will stamp an Export Declaration attached to the certificate. Exporters must then forward the declaration to the Kimberley Process Office within seven days of the date of export, at the following address:
Visit http://www.nrcan.gc.ca/node/8224 for more information.
Some of the items that have special requirements or which cannot be shipped to the U.S.A are listed below. For more detailed information regarding which items are prohibited or restricted into the U.S.A., refer to http://www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/publications/dm-md/d9-eng.html on the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) website.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires Prior Notice of all shipments to the U.S.A. that contain commercially-prepared food. This includes, but is not limited to, items that contain food for human or animal consumption, vitamins, dietary supplements, herbal remedies and food additives or colour. Food items that have been prepared by an individual in his or her own residence and sent to another individual as a non-commercial gift are exempt from the requirement for a Prior Notice. The sender must request the Prior Notice number electronically through the FDA Prior Notice System Interface www.access.fda.gov and include the number on the Customs documentation prior to shipping.
The FDA and U.S. Customs Border and Protection will use their own discretion and may consider not taking any regulatory action when there is a Prior Notice violation and the commercially-prepared food is being sent from one individual to another individual for non-commercial purposes. Customers are cautioned to ship these types of items at their own risk.
Notwithstanding any product specification regarding liability coverage to the contrary, Canada Post shall have no liability whatsoever for loss, delay or damage of cross-border shipments containing food. Likewise, notwithstanding any provision in the Postal Guide to the contrary, no liability coverage may be purchased from Canada Post for cross-border shipments containing food.
Customers can visit http://www.fda.gov/food/guidanceregulation/guidancedocumentsregulatoryinformation/fooddefense/ucm267673.htm for more information.
The mailing of alcohol or intoxicating beverages into the U.S.A. is prohibited by mail and when discovered by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will be seized. The USPS will no longer accept packages with cigarettes; roll-your-own tobacco and smokeless tobacco in any quantity. Non-mailable cigarettes and smokeless tobacco are subject to seizure and forfeiture, and senders of non-mailable cigarettes or smokeless tobacco are subject to criminal penalties.
Senders and recipients must be aware it is completely at the discretion of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) whether or not to allow entry of drugs into the U.S.A. For this reason, Canada Post shall have no liability for loss, delay or damage of cross-border shipments containing prescription drugs or any other U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), controlled or regulated products (i.e. cosmetics). Customers can visit http://www.fda.gov/ForIndustry/ImportProgram/default.htm for more information.
The position of CBP is that in virtually all instances, individual citizens are prohibited from importing prescription drugs into the United States. When personal shipments of drugs and devices that appear violative are brought to the FDA’s attention by CBP, FDA personnel will use their discretion to decide on a case by case basis whether to detain, refuse, or allow entry of the product. FDA may allow an individual entering the United States to import a three-month supply of an unopened drug if all of the following conditions are met:
Notwithstanding any product specification regarding liability coverage to the contrary, Canada Post shall have no liability whatsoever for loss, delay or damage of cross-border shipments containing drugs. Likewise, notwithstanding any provision in the Postal Guide to the contrary, no liability coverage may be purchased from Canada Post for cross-border shipments containing drugs.
The United States, among many countries, have begun the enforcement of the international phytosanitary standard for regulated wood packaging material (WPM) (e.g. crates, boxes, and pieces of wood used as supports or bracing). Most WPM must be either heat treated or fumigated with methyl bromide in accordance with the Guidelines and stamped with an approved international mark certifying that treatment. Visit the International Standards for Phytosanitary Measures website at http://www.ispm15.com/start.htm for complete details.
Parcels containing used wearing apparel (e.g. used clothing, footwear, linen, etc.) may be required to enclose a certificate of disinfection issued by recognized disinfection establishments or in their absence, by private concerns including dry cleaning firms. The wrapper must be endorsed “CERTIFICATE OF DISINFECTION ENCLOSED”.
Parcels that arrive at their destination without the required certificate are returned to origin at the expense of the mailer. International Destination Listing provides information on which countries require these certificates.
Customers can request information on tariffs, taxes, requirements for Certificates of origin and other import charges on mail sent to the United States and international destinations. Requests should be addressed to the:
All postal items entering foreign countries are subject to customs inspection. In some cases the items may be exempt from customs duties (e.g. gifts up to a certain value). See International Destination Listing for specific information respecting the country of destination. It should be noted that if customs duties or fees are applicable in the country of destination, the addressee will be responsible for the payment of any duties or fees.
In some cases Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada has authorized the use of general export permits. Exporters should ensure that they are entitled to use the specific general export permit prior to mailing the item. Exporters qualifying for individual permit exemptions must mark each parcel or package with the following: