Contributing Lawyers


Cyndee Todgham Cherniak

United States

Susan Kohn Ross


Andrew Hudson

Visitors to the Vancouver 2010 Olympics Need to Comply with Canada's Customs/Import Laws

The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) has not yet released a policy statement or guidance for the many visitors to Canada, who specifically plan to attend the Vancouver 2010 Olympics. Canada is looking forward to receiving the world in beautiful British Columbia. Trade Lawyers Blog would like visitors to have a great time in Canada from the moment of arrival. This is the first of a number of blog postings to provide guidance to travellers about Canada's import laws. Please consider the following so that you avoid difficulties at the border.

1) Visitors will need to report to the CBSA at the time of arrival at Canada Customs if they are bringing into Canada currency or other monetary instruments in excess of $CDN 10,000. If the visitor does not report the currency or monetary instruments, it may be confiscated. Please go to the following link to see the process when cash and/or monetary instruments are confiscated -

2) Visitors should be mindful that certain foods cannot be imported into Canada - Please go to the following website to use the Automated Import Reference System, which allows you to input a word or HS code and learn about restrictions - - also see

3) Visitors must meet minimum age requiremetns to be entitled to import alcohol and tobacco sticks (including cigarettes). If you meet the minimum age requirements of the province or territory where you enter Canada, you can include limited quantities of alcoholic beverages in your personal entitlement. These items must accompany you on your arrival. The minimum age for British Columbia is 19 years. However, if you clear customs in another province, the minimum age requirements in that province may be applied.

Minimum ages for the importation of alcoholic beverages, as prescribed by provincial or territorial authority, are as follows:

  • 18 years for Alberta, Manitoba and Quebec; and
  • 19 years for Yukon, the Northwest Territories, Nunavut, British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Ontario, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador.

A visitor is allowed to import only one of the following amounts of alcohol free of duty and taxes:

  • 1.5 litres (53 imperial ounces) of wine;
  • 1.14 litres (40 ounces) of liquor;
  • a total of 1.14 litres (40 ounces) of wine and liquor; or
  • 24 x 355 millilitre (12 ounces) cans or bottles (maximum of 8.5 litres) of beer or ale.

A visitor is allowed to bring in all of the following amounts of tobacco free of duty and taxes:

  • 200 cigarettes;
  • 50 cigars or cigarillos;
  • 200 grams (7 ounces) of manufactured tobacco; and
  • 200 tobacco sticks.

A visitor may bring in additional quantities but you will have to pay full duty and taxes on the excess amount.

4) The importation of many drugs and health products is prohibited. Please consider what medications you are taking and whether there is a prohibition, restriction or requirement for a doctor's note. Please go to the following link for more information - Illegal drugs are prohibited and you may be subject to criminal prosecution if you import illegal drugs into Canada. If a visitor is prosecuted criminally, his/her stay in Canada may be extended until the legal issues are resolved.

5) Visitors should leave their firearms and prohibited weapons at home. Please go to the following link to see what is prohibited -

6) Visitors should leave obscene materials at home -

Note: The Canada Border Services Agency may search laptops, PDAs, iPods and other electronics at the border (in addition to your luggage).

More information is available on the CBSA web-site at the following link -

If you require more information, please contact Cyndee Todgham Cherniak at 416-307-4168 or cyndee(at) Lang Michener LLP has offices in Vancouver and Toronto and Ottawa.

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