Annex I – Returning to Canada

Information for your return to Canada

This document explains the procedure of your return to Canada. It contains valuable information taken from federal departments such as the Canadian Border Services Agency as well as Transport Canada. This information should help you plan the return of your household goods and effects, your personal vehicle as well as your alcoholic drinks and your pets, back to Canada.

Moving back to Canada – Step-by-step

  1. These procedures only pertain to the Traffic Section’s involvement in the move of Furniture and Effects (F&E) and Private Motor Vehicles (PMVs) back to Canada. The following are the steps taken for the move back to Canada.
    1. You receive your posting message.
    2. Contact Brookfield and plan your house hunting trip (HHT).
    3. Start your inventory listing for your F&E, your food items and any alcohol (you are shipping this separately) you are taking back to Canada.
    4. Proceed on your HHT. Please ensure that all the furniture you take back to Canada will fit into the new house/accommodations. DND is not responsible for any furniture that does not fit to another location.
    5. Contact Brookfield and plan the date of your move and the removal of your vehicle(s). Ensure you have your vehicle registration(s) certificates and passports (military member and spouse only) available during the interview. If you intend on moving a motorcycle or trailer, the registration certificates are also required. For a trailer, the registration is only required if the trailer has a vehicle identification number (VIN). Be prepared to provide Brookfield with the weight and the exact dimension of your vehicle and your motorcycle. Once the CF483 and PMV request are completed, we will get them either from you in person or from your Brookfield advisor if you are in a remote location.
    6. Finalize your inventory of your F&E, including allowable food (consult CBSA web site) and alcohol (you are responsible for making your own arrangements for shipping this including any customs fees and duty). Although not mandatory, it is suggested to forward us by email an electronic copy of your inventory of F&E in case the moving company looses their own copy. You will require at least 3 printed copies of the inventory listings as follows: one copy for the moving company; one copy for Canada Customs and one copy to be retained by you, the member.
    7. Clean both inside and outside of your vehicle(s) no more than 24 hrs before dropping off the vehicle to the transporter. The transporter will clean the undercarriage of the vehicle before shipping. For overseas moves remove BOTH licence plates from the vehicle. Remove wheel hub caps and place them in the trunk of the vehicle. Leave the spare tire and the tools to change the spare in the trunk.
    8. The contractor will perform the load of your F&E and the removal of your PMV(s) on the requested date, chosen during your Brookfield interview. If you encounter any problems call the Traffic Section immediately. DO NOT WAIT until the inventory is totally packed and loaded to raise your concerns. Sign all the documents pertaining to the move and keep a copy of these signed documents from the movers.
    9. Return to Canada. At your FIRST point of entry into Canada, on the Canada Customs form E311, declare that you have GOODS TO FOLLOW and provide a copy of your inventory listing to the Customs Agent. These will ONLY PRE-CLEAR your shipment; the final customs clearance will be officially completed on the day before or the day of the actual delivery at your residence.
    10. On the next business day following your arrival in Canada, contact the Base Traffic Section at destination and leave a telephone number where you can be reached at any time as your shipment may make it back to Canada faster than your think. Follow the directives of the Base Traffic Section as this will alleviate any extra costs that DND might pay for a late delivery.
    11. Base Traffic at destination will inform you of the procedures that are required to be completed before taking possession of your F&E; each location is different so ensure you receive a brief by the destination base so you are informed of the latest information.

Ownership, possession and use requirements (Also known as the 6 month rule)

  1. To qualify for duty and tax-free importation on your furniture’s and effects, you must have owned, possessed and used the goods for at least six months prior to your return to live in Canada. The six-month stipulation is waived if you have been away from Canada for five years or more.
  2. Replacement goods are also exempt from the six-month requirement. To qualify for the exemption, the goods must be replacements for goods that would have met the six-month ownership, possession and use requirements, except for the fact that they were lost or destroyed as the result of a fire, a theft, an accident or another unforeseen circumstance. In addition, replacement goods must be of a similar class and about the same value as the goods they are replacing.
  3. This 6 month rule only applies to the return of your furniture’s and effects. Alcohol and motor vehicle taxes are calculated in a different way.
  4. For further information, consult the publication called Immigrating or Returning to Live in Canada available on the CBSA Web site.

Inventory lists

  1. A complete inventory list of your Household Goods and Effects (HG&E), your food items must be completed by the member posted back to Canada. It is not to be confused with the load manifest created by the moving company. Your detailed inventory lists are used to clear your shipment through Canada Customs. It is mainly used to describe in details what you own at the time of your arrival back to Canada.

How detailed should the list be?

  1.  If your shipment was to get lost during transit, a fairly well detailed list to identify all items in the house, similar to what you would be submitting to your insurance company is required. There are no requirements to write the title of every single DVDs. Again, you will need inventory lists for your HG&E as well as for your food items.
  2. REMEMBER: No meat or meat by-products can be sent back to Canada, even if these items are originating from the USA or Canada. Food must be clearly identified by product name (Ex: FLOUR, SPICES, OLIVE OIL). Food identified by the word FOOD will be investigated by CBSA at your own cost. There is no requirement to write down the ingredients or to photocopy the labels.
  3. It is your responsibility to ensure a copy of your inventory lists are given to the moving company during the loading. If you wish to do so, you can send by email an electronic copy to the Traffic section as well.

Alcoholic beverages and wine cellars

  • Though as a flammable liquid, alcohol by definition is an inadmissible to ship, as a courtesy below is a list provincial liquor control boards, required to comply with any 3rd party importation of alcohol.
  • Remember; every province has a different way of issuing an importation license. Contact information can be found on the Canada Border Services Agency website.

Provincial and territorial liquor control authorities

Exporting vehicles from the United States

  1. You are now required to file export information in the Automated Export System (AES) when exporting a vehicle.
  2. The U.S. Census Bureau revised its regulations on March 14, 2013. One of the changes was that used self-propelled vehicles must be filed in the AES 72 hours prior to export, no matter the value or country of ultimate destination (including Canada). This change became enforceable October 3, 2014.

Note: U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) considers a vehicle to be “used” if the legal title of the vehicle is transferred by the manufacturer, distributor or dealership to the purchaser of the vehicle. Some examples are automobile, truck, tractor, bus, and motor home. CBP recommends that you contact the customs office where you plan to cross, directly, to verify the documentation required and their hours of operation.

  1. You do not need to file if you are temporarily visiting the U.S. or Canada with your vehicle.
  2. If you have questions regarding the new requirement, contact the Census Bureau’s Trade Regulations Branch: 1-800-549-0595, option #3, or by email.

Non-U.S. residents must:

  1. Select and authorize a U.S. agent (i.e. Freight Forwarder, Broker, etc.) to file export information to the AES on your behalf Ex: Pacific Customs Brokers Ltd, Livingston etc.
  2. Provide the U.S. agent with your foreign  passport number (instead of an EIN) along with other required data elementsObtain the ITN from the authorized agent:

Foreign persons visiting the U.S. cannot register to file through AES or AESDirect.

  1. To find a U.S. agent or freight forwarder, simply use an Internet search engine to locate one or visit the Web site.

Source: U.S. Customs and Border Protection – Exporting a Motor Vehicle

Importing a vehicle into Canada

  1.  If you are planning to import a vehicle into Canada, you should be aware that it has to comply with Canadian importation laws. The vehicle must meet the requirements of the CBSA, Transport Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency before it can be imported. All vehicles must be clean and free of soil, related matter and organic material (soil) prior to arriving in Canada. This requirement applies to all vehicles, regardless of origin.
  2. You cannot import a vehicle that was manufactured to meet the safety standards of a country other than the United States or Canada unless the vehicle is 15 years old or older at the date of entry. A professional appraisal is required no earlier than 30 days prior to booking your vehicle’s move for every vehicle older than 15 years, regardless of where they were built. If you are sending a US specs vehicle, you may have to get a professional appraisal done as well if the vehicle has no equivalent in the Canadian Red Book.
  3. Not all vehicles that are manufactured for sale in the United States can be imported into Canada. As a general rule, if the vehicle you plan to import was manufactured for sale in the United States and is less than 15 years old, you need to find out if it qualifies for importation under Transport Canada's Registrar of Imported Vehicles (RIV) program. The RIV program ensures that qualifying vehicles imported into Canada are modified, inspected and certified to meet Canadian safety standards.
  4. You will have to pay import assessments that may include duty, excise tax and GST / HST. Provincial / territorial sales taxes may apply when you license your vehicle.

Canada Border Services Agency – Importation of Venicles

Vehicles taxes and licensing

  1. If you are taking back to Canada the same vehicle you brought over, you will not be paying any taxes. If you are buying a car overseas, regardless of the origin, you will be subject to taxes. CBSA will help you at finding how much you will pay based on numerous factors like the car value, age of the vehicle, optional equipment, etc.
  2. If you lived abroad for more than one year and have owned a vehicle for more than 6 months prior to your return date, you may be entitled to a rebate on how the taxes will be calculated as long as you keep the car for a 12 month period after you return to Canada. Again, CBSA can help at answering any questions you may have in regards to your own situation.
  3.  Licensing your vehicle back in Canada might be a bit challenging. If your car was never registered in Canada before your return, you will have to register the vehicle with the Registrar of Import Vehicles (RIV) and there is a fee for it. Your car may require a federal inspection prior to being registered. Additionally, your provincial licensing authority may also require a safety inspection prior to issuing permanent license plates.
  4. Canadians returning home must contact their local military licensing offices to verify if they can legally drive with their foreign plates in Canada for a short period of time and how and when they should return the plates. If they cannot drive in Canada with foreign plates or if the plates must be returned before leaving (Ex: Belgian diplomatic plates) they should contact in advance the destination provincial authority for instruction on how to proceed.

Importing a pet to Canada

  1. If you are taking back to Canada the same vehicle you brought over, you will not be paying any taxes. If you are buying a car overseas, regardless of the origin, you will be subject to taxes. CBSA will help you at finding how much you will pay based on numerous factors like the car value, age of the vehicle, optional equipment, etc.
  2. If you lived abroad for more than one year and have owned a vehicle for more than 6 months prior to your return date, you may be entitled to a rebate on how the taxes will be calculated as long as you keep the car for a 12 month period after you return to Canada. Again, CBSA can help at answering any questions you may have in regards to your own situation.
  3.  Licensing your vehicle back in Canada might be a bit challenging. If your car was never registered in Canada before your return, you will have to register the vehicle with the Registrar of Import Vehicles (RIV) and there is a fee for it. Your car may require a federal inspection prior to being registered. Additionally, your provincial licensing authority may also require a safety inspection prior to issuing permanent license plates.
  4. Canadians returning home must contact their local military licensing offices to verify if they can legally drive with their foreign plates in Canada for a short period of time and how and when they should return the plates. If they cannot drive in Canada with foreign plates or if the plates must be returned before leaving (Ex: Belgian diplomatic plates) they should contact in advance the destination provincial authority for instruction on how to proceed.

Important phone numbers

F&E Sections

  • Bagotville (418) 677-4000 (7827)
  • Borden (705) 424-1200 (7959, 2193)
  • Cold Lake (780) 840-8000 (8537)
  • Comox (250) 339-8211 (8278)
  • Edmonton (780) 973-4011 (4657)
  • Esquimalt (250) 363-2000 (4104, 4107)
  • Gagetown (506) 422-2000 (2779, 2217)
  • Gander (709) 256-1703 (1143)
  • Greenwood (902) 765-1494 (5503, 5193)
  • Halifax (902) 427-0550 (8535)
  • Kingston (613) 541-5010 (5605, 5014)
  • London (519) 660-5275 (5724, 5729)
  • North Bay (705) 494-2011 (2521, 2522)
  • Ottawa (Local) (613) 992-8771 (613) 995-1018
  • Ottawa (Moves to USA) (613) 995-5034
  • Ottawa (Overseas destinations) (613) 996-5416
  • Petawawa (613) 687-5511 (5274, 5698)
  • Shilo (204) 765-3000 (3029)
  • Montreal / St-Jean (450) 358-7099 (7415)
  • St-John’s (709) 570-4917
  • Toronto (416) 633-6200 (3762, 3764)
  • Trenton (613) 392-2811 (2245, 2535)
  • Valcartier (418) 844-5000 (5482, 6703)
  • Wainwright (780) 842-1363 (1683, 1687)
  • Winnipeg (204) 833-2500 (5026, 5061)
  • Yellowknife (867) 873-0700 (6888, 6932)
  • Colorado Springs (719) 556-8249
  • London (UK) 011-44-1895-613023 / 613024
  • CDLS Washington (202) 448-6247
  • Geilenkirchen 011-49-2451-717119 / 717136

The following publications were used to prepare this information booklet

  • CBSA BSF5087 Rev 10: Moving back to Canada
  • CBSA BSF5048 Rev 10: Importing a vehicle to Canada
  • CBSA BSF5113 E: Immigrating or Returning to Live in Canada
  • CBSA Memorandum D2-3-2: Formers residents of Canada – Tariff Item 9805.00.00

Electronic copies of these documents are available on both the CBSA website and the CFSU (E) Traffic section web page.

Last revised: October 2014

Report a problem or mistake on this page
Please select all that apply:

Thank you for your help!

You will not receive a reply. For enquiries, contact us.

Date modified: