Dear Ms Powell,
Thank you for the good work you are doing. We appreciate the information you are sharing with us. I just have a small question. I am planning my first visit to Canada for the Christmas holidays. Everyone seems to want lots of Jamaican stuff like food, rum and coffee. I don't want to disappoint them, but I hear that Canada is very strict about what you can take and that there is a limit on items. I do not want to be charged for extra things or to have any hassle at the airport in Toronto, so can you tell me what I can bring?
When you are visiting Canada, the airline usually gives you a declaration card to complete before landing. If you do not get one on the plane, ensure that you pick up one when you land in Toronto. On this form, you will be asked to declare the items that you are taking into and leaving in Canada.
The acceptable items are:
1. Gifts valued at C$60 or less (does not include alcoholic beverages, tobacco products or business-related materials);
2. Alcohol/wine should not exceeding 1.5 litres. When buying rum, pay attention to the size that you are buying. They come in one-litre bottle and 750ml. Ensure that you do not exceed the limit or you could be asked to pay duty on the excess bottles;
3. Patties, cakes and cooked meals are generally permitted. Just package carefully and label;
4. Currency or monetary instruments less than C$10,000.
Do not bring:
1. Uncooked meat or dairy products;
3. Mace, pepper spray, switch blade, machete;
4. Drugs or marijuana;
5. Currency or monetary instruments over C$10,000.
If you are planning to take any of the above items into Canada, you will need to declare them and show cause for doing so. Excluding the drugs, of course! To avoid "hassle" and delay at customs, I would strongly recommend that you do not take any of the items listed immediately above. Don't attempt to hide items in your suitcase with the hope that you will not be searched. Your suitcases may be scanned and subject to individual search, and do not forget that they do have dogs that are trained to 'sniff out' items. Failure to properly declare goods and money could result in criminal prosecution. A simple guideline is, when in doubt, leave it out of your suitcases.
You are coming for a short vacation, so do not stress about not being able to bring gifts for everyone. Many of the Jamaican rums and food items can be found here in Canada. You may have to pay a little bit more but, I'm sure your family members would not want you to run an unnecessary risk and spoil the Christmas celebration. Best of luck to you and your family.
Deidre S. Powell is a lawyer, mediator, and notary public who is a member of the Jamaican and Ontario, Canada bars, with main office located in Ottawa, Ontario. Her areas of practice are in immigration, real estate, personal injury, family and administration of estates. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Subject line: Immigration or Tel: 613-695-8777.