Before you can visit Vancouver, BC, you have to pack your bags. This Guide provides a quick overview of what you can and can't bring into Canada from another country (including the U.S.). These are regulations from Canadian customs. For more information, see the Canada Border Service Agency website.
You should also make sure that you have the correct travel documents (e.g., a valid passport). Just because something is legal both sides of the border, doesn't mean that you can travel with it through customs. To avoid travel delays, or even serious fines, it's best to check the border services websites before you leave so you know what you can bring into Canada on your vacation, and also what you can take home to the United States as holiday mementos.
Check your bags before you travel! It's easy to forget about a banana in your backpack or something like that but if you don't declare it, and you catch a border official on a bad day, then it could be an expensive end to your vacation. It's not all bad news though, read on to find out more about the things that you can safely travel with across the Canada/US border.
You CAN Bring These Items Into Canada
All of these items must be declared at Canadian customs (i.e., you must tell the Canadian customs officials that you have these items with you.) If a certain food item is declared unsafe, it will be confiscated.
- Food: Dried and packaged food (basically, anything packaged or canned from a grocery store), cooked food (e.g., bread, cookies, sandwich).
- Alcohol: 1.5 liters of wine (two 750ml bottles of wine) OR 8.5 liters (approximately 24 cans or bottles) OR 40 oz of liquor (one large standard bottle of liquor).
- Tobacco: 200 cigarettes OR 50 cigars. Note: You may bring Cuban cigars to Canada. (Cuban cigars are not banned in Canada as they are in the U.S.)
- Pets: To bring your dog or cat to Canada, you must have a signed, dated certificate from your veterinarian stating that your pet has been vaccinated against rabies within the last three years. If your dog or cat is less than three months old, you do not need a certificate of rabies vaccination.
You CAN NOT Bring These Items Into Canada
- Food: Fresh fruits and vegetables, animal and fish products. Since you will declare these items at Canadian customs (i.e., you will tell Canadian customs that you have these items), customs agents will determine what is safe to bring in and what is not. Generally, no fresh fruits, vegetables, or fresh/uncooked animal products (meat, fish) will be allowed in.
- Live bait (e.g., for fishing) such as minnows, leeches, or smelts, leeches. Night crawlers are permitted but must be contained with artificial tissue bedding (no soil is allowed).
- Weapons: Guns and firearms, ammunition, fireworks, and mace and pepper spray are not allowed. If you are bringing a firearm into Canada for an official hunting or sporting event then you must report your firearms to customs at the border. You'll have to complete a non-resident firearms declaration form and speak to a border official. The best advice is not to attempt to cross the border with any kind of weapon.
- Cannabis: Even if you have a prescription for medical cannabis (either in the U.S. or Canada or another country), you cannot bring marijuana into Canada. And even though marijuana is legal in Washington State (across the U.S. / Canada border from Vancouver) and across all of Canada (since October 17, 2018), you cannot bring cannabis from Washington into Canada. In simple terms: you can't cross into or out of Canada with cannabis or any products containing cannabis.
- Illegal drugs: It should go without saying but you absolutely cannot bring any illegal drugs across the border into Canada.
Visiting (or returning) to the U.S. after Vancouver? Don't bring Kinder eggs across the border. Yes, it is ridiculous, but Kinder eggs are banned in the U.S. and people "caught" bringing them into the U.S. from another country (including Canada) can face fines.