Crossing the border: documents you need

Prepare your documents with care

If you wish to enter Canada, there are documents you must have in order to cross the border. Without these documents, you will not be allowed into Canada.

You may also need many of the other documents listed below. You may wish to have your important documents translated into English or French before arriving to make it easier for people in Canada to understand them.

Essential documents

To enter Canada, you will need to present the following:

  • A Canadian immigrant visa (if applicable) and Confirmation of Permanent Residence for each family member traveling with you
  • A valid passport or other travel document for each family member traveling with you
  • Two (2) copies of a detailed list of all the personal or household items you are bringing with you
  • Two (2) copies of a list of items that are arriving later and their money value

Do not pack these documents in your luggage. Keep them with you at all times.

Before you arrive, you should prepare two copies of a list (preferably typed) of all the goods you intend to bring into Canada as settler’s effects, showing the value, make, model and serial number, if the item has one. Divide the list into two sections: the goods you are bringing with you and the goods to follow.

Present this list to the border services officer on your first point of arrival in Canada, even if you are not bringing in any goods at that time.

You can make the process easier by completing a BSF186 form in advance and presenting it to the officer when you arrive. Visit the Canada Border Services Agency website to download a copy of the Form BSF186, Personal Effects Accounting Documents.

Disclosure of funds

If you are carrying more than CAN $10,000, tell a Canadian official when you arrive in Canada. If you do not, you may be fined, and your funds could be seized. These funds could be in the form of:

  • cash,
  • securities that belong to you (for example, stocks, bonds, debentures, treasury bills), or
  • bankers’ drafts, cheques, travelers’ cheques or money orders.

Find out more about your responsibilities to disclose funds either before you leave or once you arrive in Canada.

Health documentation

Children in Canada are vaccinated—also called immunized—beginning when they are newborns. Vaccinations help to prevent serious infections or diseases.

When you travel to Canada, bring official documents that state what vaccinations you and your family have already had. If you or your child has not been vaccinated, call your doctor or local public health clinic right away.

In Canada, immunization or vaccination records are required for children to enroll in school.

Other documents you may need:

  • Birth certificates or baptismal certificates
  • Marriage certificates
  • Adoption, separation or divorce papers
  • School records, diplomas or degrees for each family member traveling with you
  • Trade or professional certificates and licences
  • Letters of reference from former employers
  • A list of your educational and professional qualifications and job experience (for your résumé)
  • Driver’s licence, including an International Driver’s Permit and a reference from your auto insurance company
  • Photocopies of all essential and important documents, in case the originals get lost (be sure to keep the photocopies in a separate place from the originals)
  • Car registration documents (if you are importing a motor vehicle into Canada)

Customs declaration card

Before you arrive in Canada, you may be asked to complete a Customs Declaration Card. You must complete this card before you meet with customs and immigration officials, even if you are not a Canadian citizen. If you are traveling by air, it is a good idea to complete the card before you leave the airplane.

What to declare

Use the Customs Declaration Card to declare the following:

  • Any items that you must pay duty on, including alcohol, tobacco and gifts that you are bringing in to Canada
  • Any business goods, plants, food, animals, firearms or other weapons that you are bringing into Canada
  • Any amount of money more than CDN $10,000 that you are bringing into Canada

Do not use this form to list the personal and household goods that you are bringing with you or are following you to Canada. You will show your lists of those items separately to a customs officer.

Declare all items

If you do not tell an official that you are carrying items that should be declared, you may be fined or put in prison. The money you declare can be in the form of cash, securities in bearer form (for example, stocks, bonds, debentures or treasury bills) or negotiable instruments in bearer form (for example, bank drafts, cheques, travellers cheques or money orders).

For more information, contact the Canada Border Services Agency.

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