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Info for Returning Former Residents of Canada

Are you a returning former resident of Canada? If so, this post is to help with the customs process in bringing your stuff back to Canada.

Tariff 9804 provides an exemption for returning former residents of Canada to import goods duty and tax free up to a value of $10,000 CAD per item so long as they fall under certain criteria:

1. They are former residents that were absent at least 1 year or were resident of another country for at least 1 year.
2. They have owned, possessed and used the goods for at least 6 months. (the only exception for this rule is for former residents who have been away at least 5 years, goods should still be used though)

For any new goods your are entitled to the same exemptions as if you had been out of Canada for at least 7 days. $750 CAD worth of goods duty and tax free, with limitations on Alcohol and tobacco that I wont repeat as many people cover this topic…but for those of you that don’t know here is a link to CBSA’s website post on the subject.

*Please note to qualify for this exemption you do have to prove your former resident status in Canada with Canadian Passport or Permanent Resident Card or landing papers and you have to prove that you were out of the Country for over a year or were a resident of another country.

Some examples of acceptable proof is for residency abroad are a letter from your employer, employment contract, utility bills showing dates, lease/rental agreement, bank statements for the period etc.

Your passport or residence visa or driving licence in another country is not prima facia evidence of residency abroad as passports are not always stamped and some people have more than one,  and visas and driver’s licences can be issued and the person leave that country.

High value goods – Goods over $10,000 CAD will be charged duties applicable and taxes over the $10,000 threshold. I.e. if you bring back a $15,000 CAD vehicle from the US, you will have to pay on $5000 CAD. Jewellery and other high value items should be carefully documented with details, accompanying invoices/receipts if available, gemologist appraisal/certification, serial numbers and photos if possible. Declaring “1 gold watch” is not acceptable, rather 1 rolex submariner watch, 14k gold, serial #6875213, mens value $15000 CAD” is fine.

The first step a returning resident should complete Form B4 linked here in pdf format, if you run out of lines listing your goods you can continue on Form B4a linked here. If not completed in advance, this should then be completed at the time of declaration or arrival back in Canada. The important thing is that a list of goods returning be submitted to customs upon return to be validated (stamped). This indicates that you have delcared these goods. Once you have these lists stamped you can make the actual declaration later on if you wish when the goods actually arrive. Once your declaration has been fully processed, Customs will document this on Form B15 and give you a copy.
Very Important! Do not lose any documents or copies of paperwork Customs gives you! This is your proof that you declared and are entitled to the exemption. People that are not prepared to make this declaration upon arrival back in Canada should report to the nearest Customs office inland that offers commercial services to make their declaration.

Once your goods arrive, by air cargo, courier, sea container, the shipper/warehouse or courier will notify you that your goods have arrived and that you need to clear customs and send you all the documents. The documents need to include 2 copies of the Cargo Control Document. This is the document that Customs stamps to release your goods. Bring these with your B4 and B4a and B15 (if you have one already) and ID and your proof of being away for at least 1 year to the customs office. If all is well your papers will be stamped and you are free to pick up your stuff. Please note that your shipment can be selected for an examination at anytime and there is no time limit as to how long it can take. I would advise that your declaration be truthful and accurate at all times to avoid penalties both civil or criminal.

Customs Brokers cannot do this for you as they are not allowed to clear personal effects. Some freight forwarding services will help you through the process and even accompany you to the Customs office – this service is usually included with the more reputable companies.

If you’re bringing back any animals, plants or food items there may be additional requirements and you will need to check with CFIA Canadian Food Inspection Agency. i.e some dairy products are not admissible. Here is a link to CFIA’s import polices and here is one for food.

Pet dogs and Cats other than the US will have to be inspected by a CFIA vet to certify health and there is a service charge associated. Make sure you have a record of your pets vaccinations. Here is a link to CFIA’s website for importing pets.

FYI. There are other items that are inadmissble such at used mattresses due to health concerns.

If you have any further questions please feel free to post.

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80 Responses to Info for Returning Former Residents of Canada

  • Anonymous says:

    Hi your blog is very useful. But I have some more specific questions. I moved back to Canada in Jan. 2010, but i didn't declare anything because my husband was still living abroad. Now he will be returning to Canada and all our stuff will follow him. So is it okay that my goods go under his list as well? (btw, i'll be flying with him)
    In addition, the list of of goods with us, how detailed does it have to be? i understand the more expensive stuff should be listed with model and serial #, but how about clothes and stuff?

    Any info would be great.

    THANX

  • Customs info says:

    Hi thanks for reading my blog and for your kind words.
    Yes your husband can include all the items on his declaration at Customs when he arrives back in Canada. Yes prepare the list of goods in advance with all the corresponding values in CAD. Anything of high value should be detailed. Clothes can be listed just as clothes. Unless you have some haute couture clothing worth a lot of money lol. With Jewellery of high value I would recommend taking pictures and having them stamped by customs too. Electronics are fine with model number.
    If you have any further questions feel free to ask.

  • Anonymous says:

    Good morning.

    First – thank you for being able to provide valuable information to help people in navigating the process – it is so very difficult to understand sometimes what exactly is needed and how the pieces all fit together! I want to make sure we do exactly what is needed and I am preparing a binder of documents that I think we will need (car registrations,copies of licenses, household inventory, etc) .

    I have been wanting to move home for so long and can't wait to be back on Canadian soil !

    1. the B4 form that you mention in one of your blogs- in the description section of this form – can I reference the inventory list that I made for the furniture and boxes or am I required to note each box or piece of furniture reference on this form? What I did, in hopes of making it clear and easy for the border agent is that I made an inventory list (several pages) of what the movers will have on the truck, with a cross reference to the Box or Item # (IE: Box #1 contains my dishes and I put a sticker on that box that says #1). The reason I ask is that my inventory list for the move is several pages long..

    2. How will declaring our household goods work since I am a Canadian, returning to Canada and my husband is a US citizen. Am I to claim 1/2 of our goods and he claims 1/2? I am really confused about that, because of course we own everything jointly. Is there another form that we need to complete?

    3. We own both of our cars and have the titles to both of them. I put the title and registration documents in a binder which we will bring with us. One car is in both of our names and the other car is owned by just me (Canadian) – do we need to complete an RIV form for each car? When I called the RIV information number last week, he seemed to indicate that because my husband was going there to work that he did not need to complete the form – is that correct?

    If we have to complete the RIV forms – there was some information on the RIV site that was unclear regarding recall information for the cars – do I need to contact Honda and Toyota to get a letter saying that there are no recalls on either of our cars?

    How can I know what I will have to pay in fees for the cars? Would it be something like several hundred or a $1000 or more? (if it helps, the Toyota Solara Camry is a 2004 and my Honda Accord is a 2007. I just want to be prepared for the border – and my next question on that is : is the amount due as soon as we cross and do I pay by credit card or do we pay later by cheque?

    4. the B15 form – is that something that we are given by the border agents or is it something I can print and complete prior to getting to the border?

    5. You mentioned used mattresses in a blog. Does this mean that we should not bring our mattresses that we are using in the household? (they were planned to be on the moving truck but if I should not bring them, I want to be able to remove them from the movers list now) .

  • Anonymous says:

    Thank you for being so willing to assist the public!

    1. the B4 form that you mention in a blog- in the description section of this form – can I reference the inventory list that I made for the furniture and boxes or am I required to note each box or piece of furniture reference on this form? What I did, in hopes of making it clear and easy for the border agent is that I made an inventory list (several pages) of what the movers will have on the truck, with a cross reference to the Box or Item # (IE: Box #1 contains my dishes and I put a sticker on that box that says #1). The reason I ask is that my inventory list for the move is several pages long..

    2. How will declaring our household goods work since I am a Canadian, returning to Canada and my husband is a US citizen. Am I to claim 1/2 of our goods and he claims 1/2? I am really confused about that, because of course we own everything jointly. Is there another form that we need to complete?

  • Anonymous says:

    I am sorry for having to make a few posts – my original was too long and would not be accepted for posting.

    3. We own both of our cars and have the titles to both of them. I put the title and registration documents in a binder which we will bring with us. One car is in both of our names and the other car is owned by just me (Canadian) – do we need to complete an RIV form for each car? When I called the RIV information number last week, he seemed to indicate that because my husband was going there to work that he did not need to complete the form – is that correct?

    If we have to complete the RIV forms – there was some information on the RIV site that was unclear regarding recall information for the cars – do I need to contact Honda and Toyota to get a letter saying that there are no recalls on either of our cars?

    How can I know what I will have to pay in fees for the cars? Would it be something like several hundred or a $1000 or more? (if it helps, the Toyota Solara Camry is a 2004 and my Honda Accord is a 2007. I just want to be prepared for the border – and my next question on that is : is the amount due as soon as we cross and do I pay by credit card or do we pay later by cheque?

  • Anonymous says:

    For the B15 form – is that something that we are given by the border agents or is it something I can print and complete prior to getting to the border?

    You mentioned used mattresses in a blog. Does this mean that we should not bring our mattresses that we are using in the household? (they were planned to be on the moving truck but if I should not bring them, I want to be able to remove them from the movers list now) .

    Our plan is to drive to the border with our cars and the movers will not arrive for another 14 – 21 days – do we have to go back to the actual border crossing to meet the truck or is there a clearinghouse or office in Mississauga where we would meet them (it is Mississauga that we are moving to).

    What we would like to do is stay in Canada permanently so that means that as soon as we are able, we will be applying for Permanent Resident status for my husband. Of course, in future, if he were no longer employed by his company and we needed to move we would – When we are asked at the border how long we intend to stay, is that the correct answer. It is the truth but I don't know how detailed and hypothetical the border officials want us to be – I don't want to get into an emotionally hypothetical future detailing how I want to stay living closer to my family, etc. as I am sure the agent has no interest in that.

    Thank you again for your help. We want to provide as much information as we can when we are crossing over – I cannot wait to be living in Canada again -the best country in the world.

  • Anonymous says:

    I have a question regarding one of my pet dogs – she is quite elderly (17 years old) – and to be very honest, to most people she appears to be near the end of her life – she can't hear, has trouble walking, and some of her fur is falling out. I know she looks not so great but I cannot ethically decide to put her down – she is my friend!
    She is due for her rabies shot whic I will be getting in the next week or so.

    Should I get a detailed health certificate for her so she is not quarantined or something?

  • Customs info says:

    1. Form B4 is available online or they will provide you one at Customs when you make your declaration upon your return. Yes you can just fill out the tombstone data…name, address etc…on the B4 then write see attached list. Customs will date stamp your list thereby validating it. Just be sure to include the values for your items in CAD. Number your boxes and itemizing whats inside is great…especially if it has to be examined by customs…It saves both the importer and us a lot of headaches trying to find items.

    2. Hmmm…yes you both own the goods but technically your husband is coming on a work permit. So I would say it depends on how long the permit is for. If it exceeds 36 months then he qualifies for the settlers effects exemption tariff 9807 and brings all personal effects duty and tax free. That would be the best case. Otherwise he would only be entitled to bring in personal goods tax free under tariff 9803 temporary importation of personal baggage and conveyances with disposal restrictions on all the goods. You on the other hand qualify for 9805 for returning residents with any household item imported duty and tax free up to 10k per item. Probably the cars are the only concern then.
    Ultimately, its up to you. Either person can make the declaration. Like I stated earlier if your husband's permit is over 36 months then I would let him make the declaration so you pay nothing under 9807. If you do just let the officer know that he qualifies. Some newer officers do not always realize this. Otherwise I would put everything under your exemption.

  • Customs info says:

    3. The Cars. Yes you will have to do 2 RIV forms as they both need to plated according to ontario law after 30 days of becoming a resident. You will have to import the one vehicle in your name and the other one is your choice. …hmmm what I would do is if your husband does get permit for over 36 months then I would sign the ownership over to your husband so he can import it for free. If not then I would import everything including the cars under your exemptions. you will probably owe nothing on the 2004 as I'm 99% sure its worth less than 10k and on the honda you may owe a few bucks. If its made in north america you will owe gst on the value over 10k and then pst at the ministry of transportation later on. If your VIN starts with a 1 or a 2 its made here and if its a J then its made in Japan and you will owe duty as well…around 6% of the value over 10k….so probably not too much. There is also a RIV fee of 200 and change per car. If your husband chooses to import them temporarily under his 9803 exemptions then he will not have to pay the taxes or the RIV fees but then you will not be able to sell the vehicles in Canada. If he gets a permit to work for over 36 months then he can import them duty and tax free (if you sign the honda over to him) and pay just the RIV fees. All the fees are due at the time of importation except the RIV fees…you can choose to pay this yourself in person at a RIV office or online at home or even at the border at Customs. If you choose to pay the RIV fees at Customs you will need to use a credit card.
    As for exactly what you will pay I'm not sure off the top of my head. I'm not at work so I cannot look it up right now. We use the red book to value cars or invoices.

    Yes after you finish paying and making your declaration you will be issued the B15 as proof of your declaration and payment. Then when your goods are shipped up to you…you just bring this back with all the other paperwork…B4, list of goods,ID and shipping docs and you can request customs to release your goods.

    Yes used mattresses are prohibited unless you are a new settler. So as before if your husband qualifies then he can import them.

    You should not have to drive back to the border when your goods arrive. They should be shipped in bond up to mississauga. Ask your moving company. They should be a bonded freight forwarder. The goods should be moved inbond to a warehouse in mississauga and cleared there or at the local customs office depending on route. It all depends on which warehouse your freight forwarder works with or owns. They will instruct you at this point that your goods are here and send you the docs to clear customs. You will have to come in person and bring those docs and all the other paperwork and have them stamp released by customs before you can pick up your goods or have them delivered to your house.

    As per what to say to customs…tell them the truth…you are a canadian and enter by right…your husband is coming on a work permit and he plans to apply for permanent residency. This is completely normal.
    I hope this helps…if you need any clarification please feel free to ask.

    Cheers
    CI

  • Customs info says:

    Yes with any animals…you should alway have vet papers or the vaccine records for them.

  • Anonymous says:

    Hi – I think that the work permit will only be for 24 months for my husband. So, am I understanding your correctly that I can still bring in our household goods under my exemption as a returning Canadian (we do not owe anything that is worth anywhere near close to $10K per item, except for maybe the cars) – so I would not have to pay additional fees?

    Thank you for the information on checking the VIN numbers – I was not aware of how to determine the car's place of manufacture.

    So glad that you told me about the used mattress situation – neither Atlas or United (both big names) was aware of this restriction and now I can delete the cost of moving those items, since I can't bring them across the border.

    When you mention declaring the value of our items – how do I get what is considered to be an accurate value on things like clothes and our pictures? It is much easier for the TV's – I can just bring the receipts, but there would be a depreciation value on those, correct?

  • Customs info says:

    Yes you can bring in all the household effects under your exemption as a returning resident. Yes no duties and taxes on anything worth under 10k. The cars you may owe on the difference.
    For customs purposes there is no such thing as zero value so all I can suggest is using a value that you feel is fair. e.g. putting a TV down for $1 would be unreasonable. Some people use the insured value. Yes use the depreciated value. Just like insurance would not give you the $ for your 2007 car as if it was new if you were in an accident.
    There is no need for receipts except for high value items like a rolex watch. Don't forget that for goods to qualify you must have owned, used and possessed them for at least 6 months prior.
    Also, there is a possibility that your shipment may be examined so be prepared to have to wait around 2 business days if this happens to have your goods released once you present the papers when your goods finally arrive.

  • Anonymous says:

    If I have the inventory ready to present when we physically cross the border with our car, will this help abbreviate the process when the household goods arrive approximately 2 weeks later with the movers?
    I am thinking about the household items having to be inspected (or possibly inspected) which I am fine with, but paying the movers for two more days while we wait may be more expensive than I had planned originally.
    In the end, if that is the process, it is and I will know to be prepared. Thank you for the clarification.

  • Customs Info says:

    Yes you should do this and have it validated and a receipt issued via a form B15 to show
    that you have already accounted for the goods.

    Yes once the goods arrive and you present papers for release at an inland customs office there is a possibility that your goods maybe selected for examination. Usually warehouse give 5 days to free storage so report them as soon as the mover notify you the goods have arrived.

  • Anonymous says:

    Thank you for all the useful information.
    I am a canadian living in Portugal for some years. In the meantime, I got married and we plan to spend our honeymoon in my home town.
    I plan to claim that I am living abroad and just returning for a visit? Will there be any problems or questions for me and my husband? My canadian passport has my maiden name while all other portuguese documents are updated. Do I have to get a new canadian passport done here at the embassy or can I do that while I'm in Canada? I don't want any problems concerning the name difference since my plane ticket will have my new last name. I also plan to take my pet dog along with us. She has all vacines up to date, as stated in her booklet. Will she still be examined in Canada? Should I take any other certificates or information concerning my pet?
    I appreciate your attention. It is sometimes difficult to interpret the info they put up.

  • Customs Info says:

    There should be no issue with you spending your honeymoon here. If you are planning to use your Canadian passport and you do not have a portugese passport with a name that matches your plane tickets you may have a problem with teh airline. But you will have no problem entering Canada as you are a citizen. Your husband on the other hand may have to satisfy immigration that he is not planning to stay in Canada permanently.
    Bringing the dog will seem strange as most people don't bring their pets for a honeymoon. If you have all the vaccines up to date then you should be fine. you will have to clear the dog separately at customs and yes the dog will have to be inspected. A small inspection fee will have to be paid as well. Just bring all your vet papers.

  • Anonymous says:

    Thanks very much for this blog. Its very useful and well written. I have a quick question on the length of stay. Do the customs officials in Missisauga always ask to prove that you have been away for more than a year. I have been away for slightly less than a year and bought some cars in the US while we were there but then my job was eliminated. Is there any leeway or should i claim i was away for 1 year?

  • Customs info says:

    Thanks for the kind words. There's no grey area when it comes to the one year requirement. Having said that some officers will see depending on your situation that the time difference is possibly negligible and allow you to use the exemption. Keep in mind that you are required to provide proof of your absence and residence outside of Canada. The only option I see is to not declare you are returning permanently yet. Leave the car in the US. Put it in storage. Then declare you returning as a resident once the year is up by returning to the US and bringing your car back. Then you will qualify for the 10k exemption. But keep in mind this only makes sense if the math works. I.e. What kind of car? What year? Where is it made? What is the value? How much is storage and rental of another vehicle in the mean time etc.? Then you can see if it's worth it. Otherwise try your luck. I hope this helps.
    CI

  • Anonymous says:

    I am a Canadian citizen who married a US citizen in the US and lived there for 3 years. I am now returning to Canada (my wife is staying in the US until we get her PR papers done). We have a vehicle titled jointly to us in the US which I intend to drive and import to Canada (I realize it may be more beneficial for her to bring vehicles when landing, but even if I pay taxes/duty on it it'll still be financially preferable to have use of it for the trip / moving my personal stuff / use in Canada)

    1. Will importing a jointly titled vehicle (especially with the other owner having for now no status with Canada and not coming to Canada for the time being) be an issue? What papers would I need to be able to import the vehicle?

    2. I realize one solution would be for her to title it over to me, unfortunately I didn't realize this may be a problem sooner and I am about to leave for Canada (cannot delay the trip due to employment situation). Is there ANY way to import the vehicle?

    (I spoke to Can customs several times about this and I am getting very mixed messages as to what would satisfy them)

  • Anonymous says:

    Hi,

    Thank you for running this useful blog. I've been overseas for over 12 years now retired and planning to move back to Toronto. I want to start afresh, so I'm leaving everything behind except a couple of boxes of clothes and personal effects (e.g. photos, CDs etc) that I'll send through postal service. What is the procedure for clearing customs with parcels from the postal service?

  • Customs Info says:

    To the guy with car. So long as you have a signed letter from your wife and a copy of her passport stating that she gives you the authority to import and register the jointly owned vehicle in Canada then there should be no problem.

  • Customs Info says:

    To the person moving back after 12 years,

    Just make sure you make a declaration at the airport upon your return to Canada. Fill out form B4 at Customs declaraing all the goods and the value in Cad.
    On the parcels, make sure you declare the goods as personal effect for a returning resident under tariff 9805. If you are charged duties and taxes incorrectly by Canada Post you can apply for a refund. the info is on the back of the form e14 attached to your parcel.
    Use the form B4 completed upon your return as proof and you will get your money back if you are charged…so long as the goods qualify….remember no new stuff.

    CI

  • Anonymous says:

    Thank you for your valuable advice.

    Regards,
    Shirley
    (the person moving back after 12 years)

  • Customs info says:

    No problem Shirley, anytime…and welcome home.

    CI

  • Anonymous says:

    I am a Permanent Resident of Canada and returning to permanently live there aftr 3 yrs.I did not fill in the B4 form on my initial landing since I stayed there only for 3 weeks and returned to my country,moreover I wasn't sure what I would ship at the time of my returning to Canada.Am i still exempt from customs duty as a returning resident, when I return now

  • Customs Info says:

    Yes you are still entitled to the returning resident exemption. Just explain to Customs your situation and make sure you have supporting documentation to show that you were living outside of Canada for over 1 year.

  • Anonymous says:

    Hi CI,

    This is Shirley again. I'm not back yet because I still haven't sold my apartment. The market is not in my favor, I'll make a big loss if I sell in a rush (I don't intend to make any profit but at least I hope not too big a loss as it's my retirement savings). The property has been my principal residence for the past 12 years. I don't know how this would complicate the situation if I return to Canada while continue to sell the property – meaning I'll have money to send back to Canada after. I couldn't find any information on the Canadian government web site regarding the situation where a return resident having money to follow from the sale of a principal residence (not income earning) overseas. Obviously if the property is sold and I can send the money before I return to Canada there won't be any issue but if I cannot, will the money be subject to tax? There must be a proper way to handle this situation, just don't know where to find the information. Could you help please?
    1) Do I need to report this on the custom form (as there is no such space provided in B4)?
    2) What else do I need to do? e.g. do I need any documentation/proof?
    3) Is there any information sources regarding tax? Should I call Revenue Canada? If so, any particular department?

    Appreciate very much if you could advise me or point me to the right sources of information.

    Shirley

  • Customs info says:

    Hi Shirley,
    You only need to report monetary instruments over $10,000 cad if you carry it on your person. If the bank is wiring the money then they will make the report for you automatically.
    Canada does not tax monetary instruments. You can bring a million dollars if you like so long as it's reported. You do not have to list this in a b4 as that is for goods only. Not money. If you choose to bring it with you then you must report it to customs upon arrival. You will have to make a declaration on a prescribed form.

  • Anonymous says:

    Hi CI

    Again, thank you for your advice.

    Regards,
    Shirley

  • Anonymous says:

    Hi there,

    I am a Canadian citizen trying to return home. I moved to the US with my girlfriend 22 years ago and have been here continuously for the past 12 years so all of my Canadian ID has expired except for my birth certificate of course, which has no picture. My girlfriend came to work here with a visa, I however, did not. I simply helped within the home and with her kids and so I have no rental/utilities, employment, or banking records of any kind.
    I'm concerned about how I'm going to provide proof that I've lived abroad so I can take all of my personal belongings back home to Canada with me. I've contacted the Canadian Embassy to see if they can help to get me a new passport so I can travel but haven't heard back from them. That was weeks ago. If I manage to get a ride I don't expect to encounter problems at the border for not having a passport but I still don't know how to provide proof of being out of the country for as long as I have so I can bring my things without being penalized or even losing my possessions
    My family has suffered a loss and it's important for me to get back home ASAP. I hope you can please help. Thanks.

  • Customs Info says:

    Hi, This is a something I've never experienced. People will always have something to prove foreign residency. You will need to substantiate your claim in order to recieve the returning resident exemption. Do you have letter mail showing your name and the address in the US? Do you have a US driver's licence? What about credit card bills?
    The final option is to get some affidavits – letters from people you know in the US, preferably professionals, stating that they attest that they know you and that you have lived at such and such address for x amount of time and then sign it and print their name and position. If you can get these letters notarized it would be even better. These letter(s) and the expired ID should sufficiently prove your story.
    As for returning, yes the embassy can issue an emergency passport if necessary, but if you are driving…you could use your expired Canadian ID with Birth certificate as per the Law you enter by right so long as the officer is satisfied that you are Canadian.

    I hope this helps and good luck!
    Sorry for your loss.
    CI

  • Anonymous says:

    Wow, you are soooo incredibly helpful. I'm speechless…well almost. I have no current US drivers licence or credit card bills but I can dig up old mail (personal letters at least)with my name on them showing old dates and the different addresses I've lived at here. These past few years have been a bit rocky for me(the gal I moved here with originally are no longer together) and I've changed addresses a few times. Do you think signed affidavits would still be needed? Wouldn't hurt I'm guessing. Just that my friends here are more artist/musician types rather than "professionals" as such. Thanks again so much for responding. I still don't quite know how to get the Embassy to respond but at least feel now that there is some hope for me yet.

  • Anonymous says:

    Hello,

    I have a really simple question. I'm a former resident of Canada and have lived abroad for just one year. I was wondering if I had to make the detailed list of goods if I am just returning with souvenirs and clothes. The most valuable personal item I have is a laptop which I imported while abroad and is valued less than $10,000.

    If I do have to declare everything, how detailed does it have to be? Do I have to declare every pair of chopsticks and their value? Do I really need a receipt for every purchase?

    Sorry for the really stupid question, but I came across this declaration stuff while checking the amount of money I could carry on my person and was a little surprised to find all these requirements.

  • Customs info says:

    Hi,
    With your list of goods you can put group items together…i.e. men's clothing, kitchen utensils, etc.. make sure you separate any high value items or anything that could have implications for other governmental departments like the Canadian Food Inspection agency which deals with food, plant and animal products…
    You need receipts or proof of purchase for new items…technically, however, as long as you declare a reasonable amount and you can't find receipts it should be fine.

    CI

  • Anonymous says:

    Hi.My son is 23 & a resident of Winnipeg.In Jan 2010,he went back to the Philippines to marry his girlfriend. He went back to Canada on Feb 10, 2010. However, he did not pass thru Canadian customs instead just got all his baggages & checked in right away for his connecting flight from Vancouver to Winnipeg.That was the first time he traveled by himself thus he didn't know departure/arrival procedures. I learned about this only now as I was advising him on what to do once he & his family land in Vancouver on Mar 19,2011.Will the immigration question him about this upon arrival? Does this have an effect on his permanent residency status for purposes of Canadian citizenship? What should he do? I hope you can advise us regarding this matter.

  • Customs info says:

    Hi,
    I'm not sure exactly what your concern is. Your son would have passed through customs when he returned on Feb 10 at Vancouver before he could change flights to Winnipeg. All passengers from international flights have to pass through customs before making a connecting domestic flight.
    This should not have a bearing on his status so long as he has remained in Canada at least 2 years within the previous 5 years.

    let me know if I have understood your question or not.

    I hope this helps

    CI

  • Anonymous says:

    Hi There at the time of landing i didnt provide List of goods and possessions as i told the visa office that i am not sure what i will be bringing as i dont have currently any space to keep if i bring them hence i am not sure what will i bring and didnt provide. Now since i have a house in canada can i submit the List of goods and possessions now

  • Customs info says:

    Thats is fine. So long as you have not used your exemption and you have reasonable reason you will be allowed to make your declaration and present the list.

    CI

  • Anonymous says:

    Hi CL,

    This is Shirley again. I have a few questions regarding the on-line B4 form:

    1) Address: should this be my current Hong Kong address or my temporary Canadian address (I'll be staying with my daughter until I find my own place)

    2) What is Cargo Control Number?

    3) Is "Country of origin" and "country of export" the same, in my case Hong Kong?

    4) What is IMM 5292 number?

    5) I'm only bringing old clothes, handbags, shoes etc – things that I have no idea of their value, how can I fill in their value in CAD? Another example where I'll have difficulty in placing a $ value – photos and souvenirs

    6) I don't have any gold or diamonds or precious jewelries – the most precious would be a few Tiffiney's sterling silver items which I don't have a proof of value as I've bought them ages ago.

    7) Do I fill out two separate B4 forms – one for goods accompanying and another one for goods to follow?

    8) There is a line on the B4 – "Additional List of Goods"

    -what is B4A? and

    - what is B15 number?

    Much obliged for your further advice.

    Shirley

  • Customs info says:

    Hi Shirley,

    Address is your Canadian one…temporary is fine.

    Dont wory about Cargo Control Number, its on the cargo manifests your shipper should have given you to have stamp released by customs once your goods arrive.

    Country of Origin and Export would be Hong Kong in your case.

    Dont worry about the IMM number that is for new immigrant

    As for value, just be reasonable and put down what they are worth to someone else or what they would cost to replace or your would insure them for.

    As long as nothing appears new or of high value don't worry about proof of value.

    yes you need to have to separate lists for goods accompanying you and goods to follow. The B4A is for more lines. So if you need more lines than on the B4 use a B4A, and a separate B4A for the goods to follow.

    B15 number will be completed by Customs. If you have a B15 from the Airport bring it with you. If not then one will be created for you at that time.

    I hope this helps

    CI

  • Anonymous says:

    Dear CI,

    You just have no idea how much you have helped me overcoming my nervousness about this whole customs' process (on top of my nervousness of going to an unfamiliar environment – Toronto. I used to live in Vancouver but now that my children and their families are in Toronto I've no choice). You've changed my view about the customs authority – stern face and heartless people. You ARE making a difference!

    Thanks a million again.

    Shirley

  • Customs info says:

    Shirley, Thank you so much for the kind words. It means a lot. It's very self gratifying to help people like yourself. I'm trying to make a difference as much as I can.
    Toronto is a great city. Different from Vancouver for sure but I think you will like it. Home is where your family is so I'm sure Toronto will become like home very quickly.

    CI

  • Anonymous says:

    Thank you for this great site!!
    I think I can now understand the different forms to fill out.

    I plan to ship my personal goods from Japan home.I have been away for 2 years.
    If you could help me with a few questions, I`d be very appreciative!

    Some of the boxes may arrive before I do (I want to ship some by air as they contain fragile items like pottery I have used here). What do I do in this case? Who do I address the box to if I won`t be in the country yet. Will they be returned to Japan if I am not in the country?

    Can I address them to my mom instead of me, but write "personal effects" on the forms?

    Thanks!!

  • Customs info says:

    Wow japan…my heart goes out to the people who have had their lives devastated…
    We are so lucky here in Canada.

    Yes you can address your boxes to your mom's house but consigned in your name.

    You should complete Form B4 linked here http://cbsa.gc.ca/publications/forms-formulaires/b4-eng.pdf and supply two lists of goods. One that is being sent now and one for goods to follow.
    then send a copy to your mom by fax or scan it to email as you will have to sign it. Also send a copy of your passport with picture and signature page, a letter stating that you give authority to your mom to clear your shipment on your behalf.
    You will also need to provide proof of your being away from Canada for over 1 year to claim the exemption and send copies of that to your mom too. She will need to show them at Customs.
    Make sure she keeps your copy of the B15 casual goods accounting document that she will get from Customs as your receipt and proof that you have made your declaration. Then when you return you can use this to claim your second shipment.

    I hope this helps. Have a safe trip home.

    CI

    P.s. please "like me" on facebook if you can… :)

  • Anonymous says:

    Sorry, one more thing.
    It`s Jess, anonymous from above. One more thing,

    I plan to simply use regular post mail, so no special shipping companies. Some parcels will go by sea, some by air.

    What should I fill out on the parcel labels (Is a simple "Personal effects for a returning resident" enough, or should I fill out details like clothes, kitchen utensils, popcorn machine).

    And, seeing as how I will have multiple unaccompanied parcels, should I make a separate B4 form for each parcel, declaring the contents of each box?

    Thanks again!

  • Anonymous says:

    Wow, didn`t see that you just replied.
    I just wanted to say that I cannot say enough thanks. My brain has been in a whirlwhind, and the actual CBSA site is really confusing. YOU should run the website, seriously :)

    In reply to your response, I think I can understand what to do with sending it to my mom instead. But how exactly do I write on the parcel? Her address, but my name?

    And I guess I have another question:
    I scan in for her a B4 form stating goods sent now (arriving before me), then another one with goods to follow. Some of the goods to follow will be accompanied, and some won`t. Should I make 2 forms of goods to follow, one accompanied and one not? And when I get home in the summer, should I provide a B4 form again for the goods with me?

    Sorry, I think i`m being really confusing…any help is appreciated!
    –Jess

  • Anonymous says:

    CI,

    Thanks so much for your help. It is great! You should run the CBSA website, seriously! :)
    And what a fast reply. I am feeling better about sending my boxes from Japan now, but I need to clear up a few more things.

    First, I guess, is the general question I posted above. When filling out B4 forms, do you need to make one per parcel? Or do you just fill out one form that could include contents from 4 or 5 different parcels, which could potentially arrive at different times (not sure if they will all come on the same day with regular post).

    And last, about your reply for sending the boxes ahead of me:If I send a B4 for goods shipped now, and another B4 for goods to come (both to my mom), then what to I do when I arrive in the summer with accompanied goods. Should I fill out a new B4 at that time at the airport? Or, will they be covered already because I sent in 2 forms now, one stating goods to follow.

    And last question, if my mom will cosign for me, to go to customs, do I also need to put her name on the B4 form as well as on the package?

    Thanks times a billion, seriously!

  • Customs info says:

    Hi Jess,
    Thanks for the kind words. If you're mailing it thats even better. Yes, label it personal effects for returning resident and then give a breakdown of the contents and the value (depreciated). Don't bother with the B4 now as it can't be validated by customs through mail…just keep a list of the goods and submit it to customs upon your return. Or like I said before have your mom do it.
    You only need 1 B4 and you should have it validated at the airport when you arrive. what you need is separate lists of goods for goods arriving at different times. All lists need to be stamp validated to qualify.
    And if you end up getting charged by Canada Post on behalf of customs you can apply for a refund by submitting a validated B4 later. Just keep a copy of all the items you mail and claim your exemption when you return. Just remember that your exemption does not apply to new things…you must have owned them for 6 months to qualify…so if you're package is inspected and customs suspects that something is new you will be charged on it. Then you will have to provide proof that they are used and at least 6 months old.
    And no it is your name on the B4 as it is your exemption.

    So were you teaching english? lol

    CI

  • Anonymous says:

    Hey CI,

    Once again, thanks for the response.
    Yep, I am teaching English over here, not that you'd gather that from my hectic/frantic probably grammatically incorrect posts, lol :)

    Anyways, you really know your stuff, and it has made my life much easier. I am directing any Canadians I know to your site. Thanks again!
    ~~Jess

  • Anonymous says:

    Hi CI,

    It's Shirley, sorry to bother you again. About sending my belongings through postal service –
    1) what happen when the parcels arrive?
    2) how do they clear custom?
    3) Do I go and collect them from the Custom office or from the Post Office?
    4) Unlike the freight company, parcels through post office may not arrive in the same batch, how can I make it easy for customs e.g. should I number the boxes, state on the B4A the content in each box with corresponding number?
    5) Can I broadly list clothes, shoes, handbags etc. on the postal form? or do I need to describe them in detail as advised on Canada post website (e.g. 10 cotton t-shirt) http://www.canadapost.ca/tools/pg/manual/PGcustoms-e.asp#1382681?

    Thks again.

    Shirley

  • Customs info says:

    No bother Shirley,
    There is Customs at Canada Post that process international mail. They will release your goods or apply duty and taxes depending on the situation. Canada Post would then leave you a notification in your mailbox that to pick up your parcels at the local post office. There you may be charged duties/tax and a handling fee for Canada Post. If the charges are incorrect you can pay and then request a refund. all the info is on the back of the E14 that you will get from Canada Post.
    Yes you can broadly list items unless they are high value. Yes you can number the boxes…just be sure to indicate somewhere that they are personal effects for a returning resident.

    CI

  • Anonymous says:

    Dear CI,

    Words are inadequate to express my appreciation for what you're doing on this blog. I did try to click like to your page but discovered that it means exposing my facebook to a lot of people I don't know so I unclicked it. Hope you would forgive me for my paranoid!! But my appreciation is heartfelt.

    Shirley

  • Anonymous says:

    Hello
    I'm moving back to Canada after over 2 years in the Philippines.
    1- Before I moved from Canada I was working in Washington State and living down there on my boat and I still have some items there in storage. The one I'm worried about is a vintage Harley I was building, it is all in pieces and never been registered and no serial on the engine as the old engine cases were sold without serials so you could stamp your number on them from your old broken engine cases. I don't have a compleate list of the items I have in the boxes but the bike is about 85-90% compleate.
    What do I do?
    We are doing the forms for all our items being sent from the Philippines in my name and not sure if I should put my wifes name on also, she is entering under a new permanent resident visa?

    Thank you

  • Anonymous says:

    Hello
    By the way the value on my vintage Harley is about 5-6K.

  • Customs info says:

    Hi
    I'm assuming the bike is over 15 years old as you said it was vintage. Here is my concern…according to the Registrar of Imported Vehicles Harley Davidson "does not issue a confirmation of no outstanding recalls for vehicles that were once declared "salvaged" in the U.S. Failure to produce this confirmation will result in a failed inspection; therefore rendering the vehicle inadmissible. Please contact your manufacturer in all cases to ensure that this confirmation can be issued." So if your bike was ever considered salvaged then you will not be able to get a recall clearance letter. If its not salvage then you should be fine as there is not restrictions on Harleys. Keep in mind that modifications to Canadian specification have to be done by an authorized Harley Davidson dealer in Canada…or so Harley has informed Transport Canada….this is in regards to rear tail lamp assemblies.
    So I'm not sure if you will be able to licence this bike in Canada. It depends on a few factors. I would contact Harley as they would know from all the bikes they deal with. Maybe call a dealer and ask. http://www.harleycanada.com also check out http://importation.deeley.com/hdImport/index.php
    If the bike is ok you can list it on form B4 under conveyances and it is fine that all the goods are under your name. I wish I could be more help.
    Good luck and welcome home soon.

    CI

  • Anonymous says:

    I'm returning to Canada after being in the US for 16 years. I'll be returning initially to start working, line up a place to stay etc and my wife & family will follow in a few months. Should I declare (the B4 I believe) when I first enter Canada to work, or later when my wife & family move into Canada?

  • Customs Info says:

    you should claim your exemption when you return to work when you arrive and complete form B4 and have it stamp validated by customs. Your wife and the rest of the family are also entitled to an exemption when they move.

    CI

  • Anonymous says:

    Thanks very much for the response. I guess the challenge will be I don't have much time to do a complete inventory as I'll be coming up in a few days. Should I do a B4 for the things I'm bringing with me and put the rest on a B4 when my wife comes up?

  • CustomsInfo says:

    Yes I that would probably make the most sense.

    CI

  • Anonymous says:

    Thanks very much for the valuable info.

    My wife is a Canadian citizen and a former resident. Im a Greek Citizen and I'm just about to submit my application for permanent residence based on Spousal Sponsorship. We have been living permanently in Greece for almost 6 years. Our daughter 5 yrs old is also a Canadian Citizen but has never resided in Canada. Our Container with our Personal and Household effects will arrive in Vancouver 8 days before we arrive. Im entering as a visitor with the intention to remain in the country until my application is aproved and then proceed with the landing procedure.

    My questions are :

    Does my 5 yrs old have to fill out a separate B4 ? or we are listing her items with the mother or the father ? if she does her own, is she coming in as a settler ?

    Is there a problem that our container (goods to follow) arrives shortly before us ? My father in law will try to clear our container having in hand our B4s, Bill of lading, copies of our passports and an authorization letter from us as well as the proof of payment and submission of my application.

    What should I have in hand when i arrive in YVR in order to satisfy the CBSA officer who will admit me in the country ?

    thank you once again and sorry for the lengthy post

  • Customs Info says:

    Hi,
    Your wife can claim the returning resident exemption and your daughter can claim the settler's exemption as she has never resided in Canada and has the intention to stay obviously. You can list all the goods on the B4 but I would organize the goods according to who they belong to just in case.
    No you cannot claim your exemption before you arrive. If you send your father in law he will have to pay the duties and taxes on the goods and then you will have to apply for a refund after you arrive and claim your exemption at Customs. I would not advise this. But keep in mind that storage charges on containers are quite high so I would arrange for the container to be moved to a bonded warehouse to be destuffed and stored until you can clear it yourself. There will be still storage charges just not as expensive. Unfortunately submission of your application does not guarantee approval…but technically you should be afforded the settler's exemption as well so long as the officer is satisfied that you have the intent to set up a residence in Canada for more than 12 months.
    As a Greek citizen you must apply for permanent residency outside of Canada….which I believe you are doing. You can definitely show CBSA immigration your proof of submission this should help…as well as proof of sufficient funds to support yourself while awaiting a work permit or your acceptance as permanent resident. Good luck.

    CI

  • Anonymous says:

    Thank so much….

    All info is very valuable. As you said the container will go probably in a bonded warehouse and stay there until I clear it. That's what I thought as well.

    I'm still in Greece and I'm applying through a lawyer in Canada. My application is just about to be sent to Rome which is the Processing Visa Office for applicants from Greece.

    Thanks again.

  • Anonymous says:

    Hello Super Kind Customs Officer!

    Before I begin, thank you for writing such a helpful, well-written blog! So useful! Hopefully, you are getting promoted often! :)

    I was wondering if you'd be so kind as to answer some questions I had. I am a Canadian citizen who has lived abroad for several years. I've married a wonderful Korean lady and we'll be applying for her Permanent Residence just before we return to Canada permanently. I have noticed the b4 form to fill out but I wanted to ask you a few questions if I could.

    I visited Canada for a week earlier this year…do I still count as being abroad for over a year? I'm sure I'm still considered a non-resident but I was wondering if that applies to me. I would still need to fill out the form right?

    My wife might come a few weeks after I do. We don't plan on shipping anything back that is big (just a few boxes of clothes and small stuff by mail). Since I'm bringing just clothes back, should my wife declare the stuff we are sending y mail when she arrives? Would she fill out the b4 form or a different form for foreigners? As it's just clothes mostly, is there any way customs could just open up the boxes and then send them on their way via regular mail? They boxes will be sent to my parents place…but I'll be far from there later on.

    Any help you could provide would be most welcome. Thank you again for your kind blog!

  • Customs info says:

    Hi Thanks for the kind words,
    Yes it doesnt matter that you visited Canada so long as you set up a principal residence outside Canada for at least 1 year to qualify for tariff 9805 for returning residents. And yes you need to complete form B4. Your wife should also complete form B4. But on hers she will check off "settler" and on your "returning resident". You can send stuff by mail but I would indicate clearly on the declaration that you are a "returning resident" "used personal clothing". If you still get charged and taxes you can apply for a refund by sending in a copy of the B4 validated by customs and Form B15 that customs will issue as a receipt.

    Cheers
    CI

  • Anonymous says:

    Thank you kindly for your quick and informative reply. I will definitely fill out the b4 form then. For simplicity (and to make it easier on my wife) I will list all the stuff on my form as forthcoming. I have one last (and probably silly question). I will be remitting all the money I earned here from the bank here to my bank account back in Canada. Do I still need to fill out the e677 form? I'm guessing not, but just wanted to be sure.

    Thank you again VERY MUCH for all your help! :)

  • Customs Info says:

    You need to complete the E677 if you are bringing monetary instruments equal to or greater than 10k CAD. If you are wiring the money then there is no need as the Bank will notify FINTRAC on your behalf.
    and you are very welcome.

    CI

  • Anonymous says:

    Once again, thank you kindly. All the best to you!

  • Robbie says:

    Hi!! I am returning resident. I have Canadian PR and will be returning to Canada 15 days before the 1095 days stay limit outside Canada.I have a set of queries:

    1. I will be sending stuff such as new shoes, clothes, curtains, souvenirs etc and old stuff such as photo frames, decoration items etc VIA CARGO. Am I allowed to claim upto 10000 $ of goods?

    2. If i am taxed for an amount in excess of the stipulated limits, how is the tax amount calculated?

    3. I have old goods which have been maintained properly and look like they have been purchased yeaterday. How can i convince customs that those are old since I have no receipts?

  • Customs info says:

    If you have established a residence outside Canada for at least 1 year then yes you will be entitled to the returning resident exemption of up to 10k per item so long as you have owned, used, and possessed them for at least 6 months.
    Anything in excess of the 10k will be charged duty if applicable and then GST/HST/PST on top of the value plus any duty.
    As far as convincing customs goods are old, unless there is proof that the goods are not old you should be ok.

    I hope this helps
    CI

  • Robbie says:

    Thanks a lot. Ur website is indeed a blessing for returning residents. Best wishes from my end.

  • Anonymous says:

    Dear Customs Officer,

    First I would like to say a big "THANK YOU" for your site!…It has helped me a great deal.
    My question is:
    I'm a Canadian citizen returning home after being gone 5 years. I'm using a moving company to bring my belongings from Greece to Vancouver. It's a shipment from "door to port". Meaning that they pack my household items and I pick them up at Canada Customs port. This way I cut down on paying in "euros" which is expensive. My concern is that they now told me that the shipment might be sent just a few days before I return to Vancouver and should take about approximately 45 days.

    Once I have everything stamped at customs upon my return via airport (B4 form and declarations forms). Will still need the original "Bill of Lading" to complete the pick-up after things have cleared?
    The moving company said that I don't need the "original" and a copy of it stating "express release" will be enough. The copy will be sent to my email account where I can print it up and present it with all the other required forms. Will this be enough?

    My belongings are the same as when I moved to Greece, so just bringing back the same household items back.

    Plus what will be my next step after I return?
    Do I have to get a "Customs Agent" to have things cleared by them? I have read and heard different things and just want to have the heads-up on the procedure and hidden costs.

    Thanks again for all your help…
    sincerely … "Coming Home"

  • Customs info says:

    Hi,
    Looks like you have everything in order. No you don't need a customs agent. With personal effects the declaration must be made by you.
    When your goods arrive in Canada the shipping company should notify you that your goods have arrived and send you manifest documents to present to customs for clearance.
    Upon your arrival in Canada you should make your declaration for the former resident exemption at the airport and have your B4 stamped and a B15 issued to you. Then when you get notification from the shipping company that your container has arrived you can go to customs and have them stamp release your shipment. You will of course have to present your B4 and B15 at this time. Then just send the stamped documents to your moving company.
    The only hidden cost is the possibility of storage charges and examination charges which can be quite expensive and vary from company to company…

    CI

  • Anonymous says:

    thanks for your help !…

    I don't plan on using a moving company to deliver my belongings, but instead I'll be renting a truck and have my brother help me load it up…not a lot of items , just the basics…
    PS: I forgot to mention that I will be bringing back my dog as well, I have all her papers, passport, vaccinations, micro-chip, and certificates ready. The concern I have is once we land in YVR how long will the process take to complete my paperwork and have her cleared as well. Will it be a long wait for her in her kennel ?…

    you are an amazing helpful voice to all returning Canadians…

    …"Coming home"

  • Anonymous says:

    hi

    i am a canadian citizen and moving back to canada after living in germany for 1 year. i am moving with my 3 yr old daugther and m a single mom. i sm getting my shippment sent through a company, i wanted to know if i could send sealed lentils, spices, and indian snacks also in it.

    could you also please specifically tell me what all i should not pacck in this shipment.

    regards
    rashi

  • Customs info says:

    Hi "coming home",
    at YVR they tend to tell you to come back after making an appointment. But because you have a dog I would call them to figure out how to do this. Call the border info line at 1-800-461-9999 and press "0" to speak to an agent. Tell them that you would like to speak to Customs at Vancouver International Airport located at 113-5000 Miller Road,Richmond, BC.
    Obviously, you cannot make an appointment to come back to do the paperwork with a live dog. They should be able to explain the process.

    Cheers,
    CI

  • Customs info says:

    Hi rashi,
    Lentils, spices are fine, and the snacks should be ok so long as they are not made with any meat products. Basically no plants, dairy products or meat products are allowed with a few exceptions but to be on the safe side I wouldn't send any. Also anything flammable should not be packed like perfume.

    I hope this helps and all the best to you and your daughter.

    CI

  • Anonymous says:

    hello again,
    just called them, seems I pick my dog first, then the luggage, then go through customs and pet inspections…time span was not given due to unknown flight arrivals (number of passengers)of the day….
    Either way I'll just be happy to be home….

    THANKS AGAIN for this very helpful site…

    best regards, "coming home"

  • Customs info says:

    No problem. I'm glad to have been of service.

    CI

  • Anonymous says:

    Hi, thank you for your amazing advice! I'm a Canadian citizen but moved to U.S. when i was only a 2 month old baby. Now, I'm returning to Canada after 30 years. Am I considered a returning resident?

    My second question is I am not bringing my coin/banknote collection on my initial move. I don't know the exact value but it is less than $10000. Can I declare that as a good to follow and give a rough estimate of $5000? Also, is there a time limit when I must import it?

    Thanks so much!

    Seth

  • Customs Info says:

    Hi Seth,

    Yes I believe you would considered a returning resident. Yes you can declare goods to follow for your collection. Valuation would depend on whether your coins/banknotes are still legal tender or just collectors items. If they are legal tender than the value would be the face value naturally. If they are not and only collectables than you should have itemized list and appraised for the value to avoid any issues of whether they are worth more than 10k or not. Even a print out of other similar coins for sale online would be better than nothing.
    There is no time limit for goods to follow so long as they are listed on the B4.

    Cheers

    CI

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