The CBSA wishes you happy holidays and gives tips for smoother travel this season

News release

December 13, 2023               

Ottawa, Ontario

The holiday season is a busy time at the border. The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) has a few tips for smoother travel, which you should know before you go.

Everyday, the CBSA works hard to protect Canadians, support the economy, and ensure the safe and efficient movement of people and goods across our borders. Our 2023 Year in Review highlights our accomplishments, including that between January 1 and October 31, 2023, we welcomed nearly 73.7 million travellers, an increase of 46% from 2022. We also made over 35,600 drug seizures compared to 23,000 in 2022, an increase of 55%.

The CBSA invests significant effort planning and preparing for peak periods, including holidays. We monitor traveller volumes and work hard to minimize border wait times at ports of entry, including international airports, without compromising safety and security.

Help us by coming prepared! Follow these tips for a smoother trip:  

Save time with Advance Declaration. If you are flying into the Toronto, Vancouver, Montréal, Winnipeg, Halifax, Québec City, Ottawa, Billy Bishop, Calgary and Edmonton international airports, you can make your customs and immigration declaration up to 72 hours in advance of your arrival. Using Advance Declaration gives you access to express lanes to get to an airport kiosk or eGate faster.

Plan ahead and check our border wait times web page. Travellers crossing the border by land are encouraged to cross during non-peak hours such as early morning. The Monday of holiday long weekends tends to be the busiest – pick another day to cross the border if you can. Also, it’s always best to check the official CBSA Directory of Offices and Services for a port of entry’s hours of operation.

Know your exemption limits. Returning residents who make purchases or pick up online purchases outside of Canada should be aware of their personal exemption limits. Use the CBSA duty and taxes estimator to help calculate your monies owed.

Have your travel documents handy. Whether travelling by land, air or water, you can help speed things up by coming prepared with your travel documents.

Be prepared to declare. All travellers must declare their goods upon entry into Canada. For returning residents, have your receipts readily available for goods purchased or received while outside of Canada. You are encouraged not to travel with firearms, but if you choose to do so, be sure to check the CBSA website for the rules on importing firearms and other restricted and prohibited goods.

Leave gifts unwrapped. If travelling with gifts, make sure they are unwrapped or in gift bags in case border services officers need to inspect the contents.

Declare any foods, plants, or animals. Consult the Automated Import Reference System (AIRS) on the Canadian Food Inspection Agency website before bringing any food, plant, and animal products into Canada.

Bringing turkey across the border? Poultry products must be retail packaged, for human consumption, and labelled as a "Product of the USA". Homemade food or leftovers containing poultry cannot be brought into Canada. Check the latest Information for travellers: Restrictions on poultry and birds from the United States before bringing these products across the border.

When travelling with children, it is recommended that the accompanying adult have a consent letter authorizing them to travel with the child if they share custody or are not the parent or legal guardian. Border services officers are always watching for missing children, and in the absence of the letter, officers may ask additional questions.

Cannabis: Don’t bring it in. Don’t take it out. Bringing cannabis across the border in any form, including oils containing tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) or cannabidiol (CBD), without a permit or exemption authorized by Health Canada is a serious criminal offence subject to arrest and prosecution, despite the legalization of cannabis in Canada. A medical prescription from a doctor does not count as Health Canada authorization.

If you are travelling with a pet or planning to import an animal into Canada, you will need the right paperwork at the border to meet Canada's import requirements.

Not sure? Ask a border services officer. The best thing you can do to save time is to be open and honest with the CBSA officer. If you are not sure about what to declare, don't hesitate to ask. Our officers are here to help! 

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For more information about CBSA programs, services and initiatives, please visit the CBSA website or contact:

Border Information Services
Contact us online
Live agents are available Monday to Friday from 7 am to 7 pm Eastern Time

For more information or to schedule a media interview with a CBSA representative, please contact:

Media Relations
Canada Border Services Agency

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