Crossing the border: documents you need

Prepare your documents with care

There are documents you must have to cross the border into Canada. Without these documents, we won’t allow you into the country.

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

Essential documents

To enter Canada, you’ll need:

  • a Canadian immigrant visa (if this applies)
  • 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 copies each of:
    • a detailed list of all the personal or household items you’re bringing with you
    • a list of items that are arriving later and their money value

Don’t pack these documents in your luggage. Keep them with you at all times.

Settler’s effects list

Before you arrive, you should prepare two copies of a list (preferably typed) of all the goods you plan to bring into Canada as. The list should:

  • show each item’s value, make, model and serial number (if it has one)
  • be divided into two sections:
    • the goods you’re bringing with you
    • items that are arriving later and their money value

Give this list to the border services officer when you first get to Canada, even if you aren’t bringing in any goods at that time.

You can make the process easier by filling out a BSF186, Personal Effects Accounting Documents form before you travel and giving it to the officer when you arrive.

Disclosure of funds

Tell a Canadian official when you arrive in Canada if you’re carrying more than CAN $10,000. If you don’t, you may be fined, and your funds could be seized.

These funds could be in the form of:

  • cash
  • cheques
  • bankers’ drafts
  • travelers’ cheques or money orders
  • securities that belong to you, such as:
    • stocks
    • bonds
    • debentures
    • treasury bills

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

Health documentation

Children in Canada are vaccinated (immunized) starting 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 hasn’t been vaccinated, call your doctor or local public health clinic right away.

In Canada, your children need immunization or vaccination records to enrol in school.

Other documents

Other documents you may need include:

  • marriage certificates
  • driver’s licence, including:
    • an International Driver’s Permit
    • a reference from your auto insurance company
  • adoption, separation or divorce papers
  • birth certificates or baptismal certificates
  • letters of reference from former employers
  • trade or professional certificates and licences
  • car registration documents (if you’re importing a motor vehicle into Canada)
  • school records, diplomas or degrees for each family member traveling with you
  • a list of your educational and professional qualifications and job experience for your résumé

Make photocopies of all these types of documents, in case the originals get lost. Be sure to keep the photocopies in a separate place from the originals.

Customs declaration card

Before you arrive in Canada, you may be asked to complete a Customs Declaration Card. Complete this card before meeting with customs and immigration officials, even if you aren’t a Canadian citizen.

If you’re traveling by air, it’s a good idea to complete the card before you leave the airplane.

What to declare

Use the Customs Declaration Card to declare what you’re bringing into Canada, including any:

  • items you must pay duty on, such as:
    • gifts
    • alcohol
    • tobacco
  • amount of money more than CDN $10,000
  • business goods, plants, food, animals, firearms or other weapons

Don’t use this form to list personal and household goods you’re bringing with you or are following you to Canada. You’ll show your lists of those items separately to a customs officer.

Declare all items

If you don’t tell an official that you’re carrying items or money that should be declared, you may be fined or put in prison.

For more information, contact the Canada Border Services Agency.

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