Customs, Taxes & Border Information

Canada Border Services Agency

Canada has one of the most advanced customs organizations in the world, and our borders and the processes we have in place to manage them are absolutely critical to our ability to provide Canadians and visitors to Canada with the security and peace of mind they expect.

Visitors entering Canada must clear Canada Customs border security upon entry. For visitors traveling by road, Toronto’s nearest Canada-U.S. border crossings are at Niagara Falls, Fort Erie-Buffalo and Windsor-Detroit.

For more information about the border as it relates to planning your event, see these Canada Border Information videos prepared by the Canadian Tourism Commission and the Canadian Border Services Agency.

Returning to the United States

Every 30 days, U.S. citizens returning to the United States are allowed to bring back $400 (retail value) in merchandise duty-free, provided they have been out of the U.S. for 48 hours. This amount can include:

  • one carton of cigarettes
  • 100 cigars (not Cuban)
  • two kilograms of smoking tobacco
  • one litre of liquor, provided the buyer is 21 years of age

If the length of the stay is less than 48 hours, $200 in merchandise may be taken back to the U.S. duty-free. This amount can include:

  • 50 cigarettes
  • Up to five ounces of alcohol, provided the buyer is 21 years of age

The following items are not permitted into the U.S.:

  • Cuban or Iranian products
  • fruits and vegetables
  • uncooked grains

Goods bought in Canada but manufactured in the U.S. are duty-free and not included in the basic exemption. Original handmade crafts and works of art are also exempt; however, a receipt of purchase may be required.

For further information on U.S. customs regulations, please call (905) 676-2606 or visit www.CBP.gov.

Returning to other countries

Before leaving home, visitors from other countries should check the customs regulations of their country by contacting the appropriate government department.

Taxes

The Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) is a 13% tax that is applied on most purchases of taxable supplies of goods and services in Ontario.

Tax Rebates for Foreign-Based Convention Organizers

If the attendance at your convention is at least 75% non-Canadian, you may be able to claim a rebate for 100% of the HST paid on convention facilities and related convention supplies including convention materials, business equipment rental, audiovisual equipment and 50% if the HST tax paid on food & beverage and catering. Contact Tourism Toronto and Canada Customs & Revenue Agency well in advance to determine whether you qualify and what steps you’ll need to take.

For more details and forms, visit the Canada Revenue Agency website.

Meeting and Convention Attendees

When you enter Canada, a CBSA officer may ask to see your passport (and a valid visa, if one is necessary). If you are a citizen of the United States, you do not need a passport to enter Canada. However, you should carry proof of your citizenship, such as a birth certificate, certificate of citizenship or naturalization, as well as photo identification. If you are a permanent resident of Canada or the U.S, you should bring your Permanent Resident Card with you.

You may be asked for proof that you are attending a meeting or convention and may be useful to have a copy of the meeting agenda and/or registration on hand. This may also be useful when returning to the US should a similar question be asked.

There is no requirement within the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act or Regulations making it mandatory for persons seeking entry for work or business purposes to provide a letter on company letterhead stating the purpose for their visit, duration of stay and a Canadian contact name, address, and phone number. This can certainly facilitate the process, as this includes a lot of the information that a Border Services Officer would need to make an appropriate assessment on the application for work in Canada as to whether or not all requirements are met for entry, including whether or not a work permit is required.

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