3 hacks to get through Canadian customs with ease

by | Jun 22, 2023 | Travel and Leisure

Returning home from a trip to face long lines at customs can feel like a real drag. Here are a few ideas that may help speed up the process.

Stay organized
Avoid wasting time or holding up the line at customs checkpoints by knowing exactly where you placed your travel documents while you were on the move. You’ll need to show your passport or Permanent Resident card at customs.

A small bag, sometimes called a belt bag or fanny pack, worn across your chest can be a convenient way to keep these items protected and within close reach. A purse, briefcase or interior backpack pocket also work – just avoid sticking this important identification in the pockets of your clothes since it could fall out.

If possible, declare early
When you arrive in Canada you must declare goods you’re bringing from outside of the country, including food and souvenirs. If you are flying into certain international airports in Canada, you can use a feature on the official ArriveCan app or website to fill out your customs and immigration declaration forms up to 72 hours before arriving. This optional service is offered by Canada Border Services Agency as a quicker way to get through customs. You can update the forms when you land, if needed.

Pack smart
Even if you’re only bringing items for personal use, it’s still important to declare them. While you might expect some items to be prohibited, such as cannabis products from another country, others might be more surprising and could slow you down at the border. It’s a good idea to double check.

Some food products could contain possible hazards for Canada. For example, pork products could potentially bring a disease called African swine fever into the country. Though it does not infect humans, the disease is deadly for pigs. And an outbreak could spread through contaminated items, which can include pork from a country with the disease such as Germany, Poland, Ukraine, China, Vietnam and the Philippines, to name a few. An outbreak here would hurt Canadian pork farmers.

To avoid delays due to problematic items in your luggage, double check what you can and cannot bring. When in doubt, always declare. If there’s a problem with something that is a food, or is a plant- or animal-based product and you didn’t declare, you could face a penalty of more than $1,000.

Find more information on African swine fever at inspection.canada.ca/protect-pigs

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