Online shopping has become a household norm. In fact, there has been a 117% increase over the last three years in low value shipments ($3,300 or less) alone, which are coming into Canada via approved courier companies registered with the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA).

There are things to keep in mind when foreign goods are coming across our border and into our country.

The CBSA has an important job to do, which is to screen all goods coming into Canada, keeping the safety of Canadians in mind. We’re looking to ensure the goods entering our country do not cause harm. If we suspect they could, we will examine these packages more closely.

It’s also important to recognize that there are certain items that are restricted or prohibited from coming into Canada. When these types of items are discovered, we will take the appropriate action.

Finally, there’s no avoiding paying duties, taxes and brokerage fees when a purchase is delivered by mail or courier from outside Canada. Many items over $20CAD are subject to duty fees and due to trade agreements, various duties are applied to some products, but not to others.

  1. Order early to allow for processing


All international mail shipments coming into Canada are screened by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), so make sure to give plenty of time for processing when ordering gifts online. Don’t assume that an online purchase from a retailer with a web address ending in “.ca” means that the goods are located within Canada. Purchases from online retailers may require the seller to ship the goods from another country.


  1. Get informed on shipping restrictions and prohibited goods


Some items are restricted and prohibited goods. If prohibited goods are discovered, the CBSA will take appropriate enforcement action. The CBSA will hold prohibited goods and inform you by mail that you need the proper import documents before the Agency can release them.

To avoid the possibility of penalties, including seizure or prosecution, make sure you have the information you require before purchasing items online that will need to be imported into Canada. Remember, there are specific rules for things coming across the border and into our country. For example, receiving or sending cannabis in any form into or out of Canada by mail or courier is also illegal. Unauthorized purchases from outside Canada (online or other) will be confiscated at the border. You could be arrested and prosecuted.

  1. Be ready to pay duties and taxes for shipments

When a consumer orders goods that are imported into the country by mail, there may be duties and/or taxes to consider. Here is specific information for consumers to keep in mind:

o   $20CAD and under: duty and tax free when imported from any country

o   Above $20CAD: duties and taxes may apply when imported from any country, including the US and Mexico

o   Gifts worth $60CAD or less must be personally sent by a friend or relative outside Canada and must include a card or other notice indicating that it is a gift to be eligible for free importation.

o   Country of origin determines the duty rate, not the country of export

Goods imported by courier to Canada from countries other than the Unites States and Mexico continue to have a duty and tax remission threshold value of up to $20CAD.


The following table can be used as a guide to determine the eligibility for the remission of duties and/or taxes depending on country from which the goods are imported:



Canada’s De Minimis Structure
Goods imported from any country (other than the US and Mexico) Goods imported from the US and Mexico
·   Up to $20: duty and tax free ·   Up to $40: duty and tax free
·   Above $20: duties and taxes apply, excluding the US and Mexico ·   Above $40 to $150: duty free, but taxes still apply
  ·   Above $150: duties and taxes apply



Some online retailers use courier companies, who may take care of the customs details for you. Verify the shipping and handling fees that may apply prior to completing your purchase. Alternatively, as a consumer, you can chose to self-account for your goods.

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