Canada Border Services Agency
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Working or Studying in Canada

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Table of Contents


The information provided was accurate when it was published; however, legislative provisions and requirements can change at any time. The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) makes every effort to provide timely updates to this publication and its Web site.

If you have information about suspicious cross-border activity, please call the CBSA Border Watch toll-free line at 1-888-502-9060.

You will find this publication helpful if you are a temporary resident about to enter Canada to study, or work for a period of no more than 36 months. For more information, consult the publication called Visitors to Canada and Other Temporary Residents on the CBSA Web site.

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Identification documents required

When you enter Canada, a border services officer may ask to see your passport and a valid visa (if you are arriving from a country for which one is required). If you are a U.S. citizen, you do not need a passport to enter Canada; however, you should carry proof of your citizenship such as a birth certificate, a certificate of citizenship or naturalization, or a certificate of Indian Status, as well as a photo ID. If you are a permanent resident of the U.S., you must bring your permanent resident card with you. For more information, consult the publication called Visitors to Canada and Other Temporary Residents on the CBSA Web site.

All travellers, including U.S. citizens, are encouraged to visit the U.S. Customs and Border Protection's Web site at www.cbp.gov for information on the U.S. Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative and its traveller requirements to enter or return to the United States.

It is advisable to contact a Canadian embassy or consulate to be sure you have all the proper documentation before you arrive in Canada to study or work. More information is available on the Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) Web site at www.cic.gc.ca.

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Public Health

If you are suffering from a communicable disease upon your arrival in Canada, or if you have been in close contact with someone with a communicable disease, you are obligated to inform a border services officer or a quarantine officer, who can determine if you require further assessment. If you become ill after your arrival in Canada, consult a Canadian doctor and inform the doctor where you were and what, if any, treatment or medical care you have received (e.g., medications, blood transfusions, injections, dental care or surgery).

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Personal and household effects

When you enter Canada to study or work, you can temporarily import your personal and household goods (i.e., furniture, tableware, silverware, appliances and motor vehicles) as long as the following conditions are met:

  • The goods cannot be used by a resident of Canada;
  • You are not permitted to sell or otherwise dispose of the goods in Canada; and
  • You must take all non-consumable items with you when you leave the country at the end of your temporary residence.
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Preparing to enter Canada

Prior to arrival in Canada, temporary residents are advised to prepare two copies of a list (preferably typewritten) of all items to be imported temporarily, indicating the approximate values make, model and serial numbers ,where applicable.

Since jewellery is difficult to describe accurately, it is best to use the wording from your insurance policy or jeweller's appraisal and to include photographs that have been dated and signed by the jeweller or a gemologist. This information makes it easier to identify the jewellery when you first enter Canada, and later if you return from a trip abroad with this jewellery.

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Declaring your goods

When you arrive in Canada, you should give your list of goods to the border services officer at the first point of arrival in Canada. The officer may issue a Form E29B, Temporary Admission Permit, for the goods you are importing and give you a completed copy of the form as a receipt. In certain circumstances, a refundable security deposit may be required for some of the goods you imported.

On arrival, you are required to provide adequate Identification and proof of your status in Canada (i.e., documentation issued by CBSA/CIC, such as your work permit or study permit). If you are entering Canada to work, you should provide a letter of introduction from your employer.

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Alcohol and tobacco

Upon your initial arrival, you may import, free of duty and taxes, the following amounts of alcoholic beverages* and tobacco products, as long as these items are in your possession when you arrive in Canada.

Alcoholic beverage limits

  • 1.5 litres of wine; or
  • a total of 1.14 litres of alcoholic beverages; or
  • up to 8.5 litres of beer or ale.

*Alcoholic beverages are products that exceed 0.5% alcohol by volume. Minimum ages for the importation of alcoholic beverages, as prescribed by provincial or territorial authorities, are 18 years for the provinces of Alberta, Manitoba and Quebec and 19 years for the remaining provinces and territories.

You may import additional quantities of alcohol above your personal entitlement, as long as they are within the limits set by the province or territory where you enter Canada.

Tobacco product limits

  • 200 cigarettes;
  • 50 cigars;
  • 200 grams of manufactured tobacco; and
  • 200 tobacco sticks.

You are allowed to bring in all of the above mentioned amounts of tobacco into Canada, free of duty and taxes within your personal exemption.

In addition, the Excise Act 2001 limits the amount of tobacco products that can be imported (or possessed) by an individual for personal use if the product is not packaged and stamped “CANADA DUTY PAID ● DROIT ACQUITTÉ.” The limit is currently five units of tobacco products. One unit of tobacco products consists of one of the following: 200 cigarettes, 50 cigars, 200 grams of manufactured tobacco or 200 tobacco sticks.

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Currency and monetary instruments

If you are importing or exporting monetary instruments equal to or greater than CAN$10,000 (or the equivalent in a foreign currency), you must report this to the CBSA when you arrive in Canada or before you leave. This applies to either cash or other monetary instruments. For more information, please refer to the publication called Crossing the border with $10,000 or more?

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Restrictions/prohibited goods

Before importing restricted or prohibited items, consult the publication called Visitors to Canada and Other Temporary Residents to ensure that the items which you plan to import are admissible to Canada.

Examples are firearms and weapons, explosives, fireworks and ammunition, goods subject to import controls (such as, clothing, handbags and textiles), food, plant, and animal products, consumer products (such as, baby walkers and jequirity beans) endangered species, used or second hand mattresses, obscene material, child pornography, hate propaganda, health products (prescription drugs) and certain antiquities.

As long as you are a temporary resident, your motor vehicle does not have to meet Transport Canada's safety and emission standards. However, a provincial or territorial safety test may be required if the vehicle registration has to be changed to the province or territory of residence.

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While you are in Canada

Personal exemptions

After the initial arrival to take up residence in Canada, temporary residents may not claim free importation of alcoholic beverages, tobacco products or other consumable items under the temporary resident entitlement. Such commodities may, however, be imported under personal exemption entitlements as described in the publication called Travelling Outside Canada available on the CBSA Web site or by calling the Border Information Service at one of the telephone numbers listed in the section “Additional information.”

Renewing your temporary admission permit (goods)

Temporary residents are reminded to pay attention to the date when the temporary admission permit for their goods is due to expire. A few days before it expires, visit your local CBSA office and arrange for a renewal. The border services officer will want to know if you still have in your possession all the non-consumable goods you brought with you to Canada and whether you have changed your address and telephone number.

Should you change your immigration status with CIC after arriving in Canada, or decide to work for a period longer than 36 months, it is important that you notify the CBSA immediately since this may affect your residential status.

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Leaving Canada

Once you have completed your work or studies in Canada and you are about to return to your permanent place of residence, advise the nearest CBSA office when and how your personal effects will be exported from Canada. The border services officer will tell you what steps you should take. Be sure to leave a forwarding address. Any refunds you are entitled to will be mailed to the address you provide.

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Additional information

For more information within Canada, call the Border Information Service at 1-800-461-9999. From outside Canada, call 204-983-3500 or 506-636-5064 (long distance charges will apply). Agents are available Monday to Friday (08:00-16:00 local time/except holidays). TTY is also available within Canada at 1-866-335-3237.

You may obtain further information by consulting the publications (Guides and Brochures) available on the CBSA Web site at www.cbsa.gc.ca.