Customs Allowances

How much can I take across the border?

Canadians and Americans are allowed to bring as much as they like when they cross the border. However, only a portion of what is brought into the U.S. is considered free of taxes and duties. The portion that is tax and duty free is called a customs allowance.

To find out your customs allowance, please select one of the following options:

On June 1st, 2012 the Canadian Duty Free allowances were increased. The updated amounts have been reflected in the chart below.

Duration of stay in the U.S. Travelers entering the U.S. *
per person
Travelers returning to Canada *
per person
Anytime exemption for “personal consumption”Please check with the regulations of the State you are arriving in; they may have more restrictive limits. Tobacco:

  • 200 cigarettes;
  • 100 cigars (non Cuban); or
  • 2 kilograms of fine cut tobacco.

Alcohol:

  • 1.0 litre of wine, liquor or beer, or ale.
Gifts:
  • $100 CAD to be left in the USA
Between 24 and 48 hours
  • $200.00 CAD worth of goods, tax and duty free, per person
  • This does not include purchases of alcohol or tobacco – these are subject to duties and taxes
Over 48 hours Up to $800.00 CAD worth of goods, tax and duty free, per person. Purchases may include:Tobacco:

  • 200 cigarettes (1 carton);
  • 50 cigars (non Cuban); or cigarillos;
  • 200 tobacco sticks; and
  • 200 grams of manufactured tobacco.

Alcohol:

  • 1.5 litres of wine; or
  • 1.14 litres of liquor; or
  • 24 – 355 ml cans/bottles (8.5 litres) of beer or ale.
Duration of stay in Canada Customs Allowance for travelers entering the U.S.
per person
Between 24 and 48 hours $200.00 USD per person, this includes 50 cigarettes and 10 cigars (non Cuban) and 150 milliliters (5 fl. oz.) of alcoholic beverages or 150 milliliters
After 48 hours $800.00 USD per person. This is a monthly exemption. Family members can combine their $800 per person monthly import privileges. You can import 1 Litre (33.8 fl. oz.) of alcoholic beverages or 1 case of beer (24 bottles). You are also allowed to include up to 200 cigarettes and 100 cigars (non Cuban) in your exemption.

What is an anytime personal exemption?

Canadians can bring 1L of alcohol (1L of spirits, wine and beer) and some tobacco into the U.S. regardless of the duration of the stay in the U.S., so long as the alcohol and tobacco is for personal use.

How much tax and duty will I be charged if I go over my customs allowance?

You may have to pay taxes and duties on purchases over and above the customs allowance. This will be calculated by a Customs official after you declare.

If you exceed your duty free allowance and exemptions entering the U.S., the following approximate U.S. duty and tax rates apply:

  • US $2 – $3 per bottle of liquor, on average
  • US $1.90 per case of beer, on average
  • US $10.07 per carton of cigarettes, on average

*US duty rates on purchases exceeding 1 litre of alcohol are assessed according to alcohol content

Products other than alcohol and tobacco may also require a duty payment.

If you are Canadian, when you return to Canada you may be asked to pay the regular taxes and duties on the value of items over your customs allowance. Be aware that many items qualify for reduced or zero duty.