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Things You Can't Bring to Canada

Updated: July 14th, 2021

As a newcomer in Canada. You want to make sure that you know all you can before the big move. A very important factor is what you’re packing to bring along with you, or more so the things you can’t bring into Canada. The reason for its importance is that you could end up paying rather hefty fees as a penalty which wouldn’t be a great start to arriving in a new country.

It’s good to double-check everything that you pack against the list of prohibited items, sometimes it’s just a matter of a few kilograms that make the difference between being allowed or paying a fee.

Items You Can’t Bring Into Canada

infographic of things you can’t bring into Canada | Things You Can't Bring to Canada

Firearms and Weapons

The reason for the strict laws on firearms is to help make Canada a safer place for its residents and visitors.

Visitors to Canada or residents of Canada can’t bring in prohibited weapons or devices.

List of Common Names for Prohibited Weapons

  • nunchaku sticks
  • finger rings with blades or other sharp objects projecting from the surface
  • mace or pepper spray designed for use on humans
  • automatic knives such as switchblades
  • blowguns
  • brass knuckles
  • stun guns
  • crossbows 500 mm or shorter
  • centrifugal knives such as flick knives or butterfly knives
  • manrikigusari or kusari (fighting chains)

List of Common Names for Prohibited Devices

  • silencers/suppressors or devices designed to muffle or stop the sound of a firearm
  • bullpup stocks
  • replica firearms
  • devices prohibited by regulations
  • certain cartridge magazines above a given capacity. Generally, cartridge magazines are limited to 5 rounds for centre-fire, semi-automatic rifles or shotguns and 10 rounds for semi-automatic handguns, with exemptions for certain magazines

Please note this is not the full comprehensive list.

You need to declare all firearms and weapons to the Canada Border Agency (CBSA). If you don’t they will be seized and you could face criminal charges. You’ll also need documents to prove that you are allowed to possess a firearm in Canada.

Food, Plant and Animal Inspections

Canada is very strict when it comes to bringing food, plants or animal products into the country. It could be harmful to the ecosystem by causing harm to Canada’s crops, livestock and environment. Various food, plant and animal products are restricted or prohibited entry because they can harbour invasive species, foreign animal diseases and plant pests.

Things that can be a threat include:

  • food, such as raw or cooked meats, fruit/vegetables, milk
  • soiled hiking boots
  • homemade articles, such as items made from plants or wood
  • plant cuttings, seeds, bulbs
  • houseplants
  • live animals, including pets
  • firewood

Restrictions on things that you can bring into Canada will vary depending on the product, your country of origin and the province you are entering Canada from. To be on the safer side, always verify the import requirements for any food, plant and animal products that you plan to bring into Canada. Restrictions can change at any time so make sure to keep yourself updated on the things you can’t bring to Canada.

Many Travellers Fail To Declare Items Such As:

  • processed or canned foods
  • fruits and vegetables
  • homemade food
  • milk products, such as butter, yogurt, kefir
  • handmade crafts, such as wooden items
  • plants used for homeopathic or medicinal purposes
  • cooked or cured meats
  • soil

The CSBA will issue warnings or penalties to any traveller violating the Canadian Food Inspection Agency's Agri-Food legislation. When issued a warning or penalty by the CBSA, you’ll also receive a notice describing the offence and penalty owed. There are three classifications, they are:

  1. Minor violation: $500 per violation;
  2. Serious violation: $800 per violation
  3. Very serious violation: $1,300 per violation.


If you are entering Canada and you have any form of cannabis with you, it’s vital that you declare it to the Canada Border Services Agency. If you don’t it could lead to you being arrested and prosecuted. The prohibition applies regardless of:

  • Whether you are travelling from an area with legalized or decriminalized cannabis.
  • Whether you hold a medical document authorizing the use of cannabis for medical purposes.
  • The amount of cannabis you have with you.

The above includes any oils that may contain THC or cannabidiol (CBD), including edible cannabis and cannabis extracts.

Please note that even though cannabis is legal in Canada, it remains illegal to cross the border with it. The rule is as simple as, don’t bring it in Canada and don’t take it out of Canada.

Explosives, Fireworks and Ammunition

Things You Can't Bring to Canada

Natural Resources Canada’s (NRCan) Explosives Regulatory Division (ERD) controls the type and quantity of explosives that may be brought into Canada. You must have written authorization and permits to bring explosives, fireworks and certain types of ammunition into Canada. There are personal exemptions for some explosive items.

The two types of permits are:

  1. Annual Import, Export, In-Transit Permit - valid for unlimited shipments during a 12-month period.
  2. Single Use Import, Export, In-Transit Permit - valid for a single import, export, or shipment in-transit during a 12-month period.

Personal Exemptions

  • the explosive is imported, exported, or transported in transit for personal use and not for commercial purposes;
  • the explosive enters or leaves Canada with the person importing or exporting it—or, if transported in transit, it remains with the person transporting it at all times;
  • in the case of small arms cartridges, the cartridges do not include a tracer, incendiary or similar military component or device; and
  • the quantity of the explosive being imported, exported and transported in transit is not more than the quantity set out in the table.

See table for types and quantities of explosive that are allowed within certain conditions.

Health Products and Prescription Drugs

Residents and visitors are allowed to bring a 90-day supply or single course of treatments of an over-the-counter (OTC) medication, NHP, VHP or a medical device for personal use without requiring a specific licence. There aren’t any restrictions for medical devices but you must be able to use the device without the assistance or supervising of a professional.

Health products may be regulated differently in Canada than in other countries. For example, a product might need a prescription in Canada and not in another country.

Health products brought into Canada for personal use must:

  • have the original label attached to it. The label must clearly say what the health product is and what it contains.
  • be in the original retail package, or
  • be in the package dispensed by the hospital or pharmacy

If you run out of your medication and it’s not available in Canada, you’re still able to get it through a Canadian doctor using the Special Access Program (SAP).

Cultural Property

Things You Can't Bring to Canada

Certain antiques or cultural items that have historical significance to their country of origin aren’t allowed to be brought into Canada. If you are bringing an object of this value then you need to have the appropriate permit.

Tobacco Products

If you’re 18 years of age or older, you are allowed to bring tobacco into Canada but only the following amount:

  1. 200 cigarettes
  2. 50 cigars
  3. 200 grams of manufactured tobacco
  4. 200 tobacco sticks

It’s important to note that if you include cigarettes, tobacco sticks or manufactured tobacco in your personal exemption, you may receive only a partial exemption. You will have to pay a special duty on these products unless they have been bought from duty-free. All duty-free products will be marked “duty paid Canada droit acquitté”.

Arriving With Money

There isn’t any restriction on the amount of money that you can bring into Canada. However, you must report any amount of currency that is greater than CAN $10,000 or equivalent in another currency.

There are several other restrictions in place. To ensure a smooth experience at the border, make sure that you go through the entire list.

Is Canada Good For Foreigners ?

Canada is very welcoming to foreigners, more than most countries. Its growing economy depends on immigrants coming over to work and live in Canada. This is because of its ageing population and low birth rate. There are plenty of job opportunities, along with other beneficial factors including free healthcare, worldly recognized education and overall safety./p>

Click on the link below to see if you’re eligible for one of the over 100 Canadian immigration pathways.

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