Emigrating, Immigrating or Returning to Live in Canada

You may find this helpful if you are:

  • Moving to Canada and planning on living there for more than one year
  • Emigrating to Canada for temporary employment for or more than three years
  • Coming back to Canada to resume your residence after at least one year of leaving, or after being a resident in another country for at least a year.

One year is considered to be a calendar year from your departure date to the CBSA.  So if you were to leave on February 5, 2013 and return February 5, 2014, you will be considered to have been on emigration for a whole year.  In these cases, you may be qualified for duty-free and tax-free importation for your belongings, if you meet the conditions, rules, procedures and other Canadian immigration requirements..

Who would be considered emigrant / immigrant?

An emigrant from the UK is any person who enters Canada with intentions of becoming a Canadian resident for a period of no less than twelve months for a first time, at least under the customs legislation.  Just remember that a status of a person for custom purposes is not always the same as it is for immigration to Canada purposes.


  • People that emigrate to Canada for employment purposes for a period of over 36 months (other than the United States Preclearance personnel) are first considered to be emigrants to Canada, even if they are considered Temporary Residents for immigration purposes.
  • People moving to Canada from UK to become permanent residents without intending to reside immediately in Canada are not considered Settlers since they don't have the intention to remain in Canada at the time, and will be moving from Canada back to the UK for an unknown amount of time. This means that under customs legislation, these people are considered visitors to Canada, even if they are permanent residents for immigration purposes.

Who are former Canadian residents?

Former residents of Canada are people who move to Canada to resume residence there after they have emigrated from Canada to another country like England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales for no less than a year.  People who become residents in the UK for at least a year can make return visits back without putting their former Canadian residence at stake. 

People who do not become residents of another country during their absence, like people on extended vacations, are only eligible for the former resident title if there were no visits back to Canada within at least a year.  If they have made return moving to Canada, they will be entitled to a personal exemption, which is called ‘I Declare'.

Before move to Canada from UK

Before you emigrate to Canada from UK, you should have two copies of a list of all the goods you plan on moving into Canada.  The list should have the value, make, model and serial number (if any) of all the goods you plan on bringing with you. 

When you want to move to Canada and you are planning on bringing jewellery with you, you should describe each item on your list.  Since it may be hard to describe jewellery at times, it is best to use the wording from your insurance policy or jeweller's appraisal, also include pictures that have been signed and dated by the jeweller or a gemmologist in there as well.

Divide your list in two sections.  List the goods you are moving to Canada with you in the first section, and in the second, list all the goods being forwarded later on.  The goods that will be arriving later will only qualify for duty- and tax- free import under your entitlement as a former resident or new immigrant if they are located on your original list.

Duty and tax free allowance when emigrating to Canada

Former residents and people emigrating to Canada can include the following items in their duty and tax free entitlement:

Emigrating to Canada from the UK
  • Clothing
  • Linen
  • Furniture
  • Furnishings
  • Appliances
  • Silverware
  • Tool sheds or garages that don't attach to or form a part of a dwelling
  • Private aircraft
  • Motor homes
  • Utility trailers
  • Jewellery
  • Family heirlooms
  • Antiques
  • Private collections
  • Personal computers
  • Books
  • Musical instruments
  • Personal vehicles
  • Mobile trailers that do not exceed 2.6 meters in width, that the owner is capable of moving on their own
  • Pleasure boats and the trailers to carry them (trailers subject to the requirements of Transport Canada)

Limitation on value

If you're a former resident of Canada and are moving from the UK any item that is worth more than CAN$10,000 on your import date, it is subject to taxes.

Additional personal exemption

If you're a former resident who is coming back to resume your residence in Canada, then you are entitled to claim a duty and tax free personal exemption with a maximum of CAN$800 for goods you brought back or gathered while in the UK.  You don't have to own, possess or use those goods before you move to Canada back to resume residence. 

Gifts from wedding

If you have gotten married within three months prior to your emigration to Canada, or if you plan on marrying no later than three months after arriving here, you can bring your wedding gifts free off taxes.  But, you must have owned and had the gifts with you before you emigrate to Canada.  Sea the page on moving to Montreal.

Emigration Requirements for ownership, possession and use

When you want to emigrate to Canada from United Kingdom and want to have goods moved duty and tax free, immigrants must have owned, possessed and used these goods before their arrival.  Former emigrants and residents must have owned, possessed and used the goods at least six months before they relocate to Canada to resume residence. 

It is important that you meet all three requirements for shipping to Canada:

  • if you have leased goods, they are subject to taxes because CBSA doesn't consider leasing as ownership. 
  • If you have bills of sale and registration documents, they will help prove that the emigration requirements are met (if they actually do meet the requirements). 
  • Even if the goods you have meet all requirements, they must also meet the government department's other Canadian Immigration requirements. 


If you are a former resident or immigrant, the stipulation for six months will be waived if you have been gone for five or more years.  That means that you will only have to own, possess and use your goods before you relocate back.


Immigrate to CanadaReplacements that are imported by former Canadian residents are also excluded from the six month requirement.  They are still required to own, possess and use them before moving to Canada back to resume their residence.  When you plan emigration to Canada and want to qualify for this, they must be replacements of goods that would have met the six month possession, ownership and use requirements, unless they were lost or destroyed in a result of fire, theft or any other unfortunate circumstances.  The replacements must also be of a similar class and value as the goods being replaced (you will also need to show proof off this).

Declaring goods when entering Canada

Even if you have no goods on you when you emigrate, you must give your list to the border services upon your first point of arrival.  Based on the list of goods you turn in, the officer will complete a Personal Effects Accounting Document, assign a file number to it and give you a copy of the completed form for a receipt. You will then need to show your copy to claim free importation of the unaccompanied goods you are moving in.

Disposal of goods imported tax free

Immigration requirements, procedures and rules when moving to Canada are very strict. If you import tax free goods and try to sell or give them away within the first year of being the immigrant in Canada, you will have to pay any taxes that are applicable to them immediately.  The same rule applies if the goods are being used for commercial use as well.


If you suffer from any communicable diseases upon relocating to Canada, or if you have been in contact with someone with one, you must inform a border services officer or a quarantine officer who will be able to do a further assessment.  If were ill during or after you have emigrated to Canada, consult a doctor and inform them that you have been travelling abroad, where you are coming from and any treatment or medical care that you have received, if any. 


Beverages that are considered alcoholic are products that exceed 0.5 percent alcohol by volume.  If you meet the minimum age requirement, you can include a limited quantity of alcoholic beverages in your personal Emigration entitlement.  The alcoholic beverages must be in your possession when you move to Canada.  The minimum age for importing alcoholic beverages are determined by provincial territorial authorities.  Minimum age requirement for Alberta, Manitoba and Quebec is 18 years, but everywhere else is at 19 years old.

Only one of the following amounts of alcohol is allowed to be free of taxes:

  • 1.5 litters of wine;
  • A total of 40 ounces of alcoholic beverages or
  • Up to 8.5 litters of beer or ale


‘Cooler' products are classified by the CBSA according to the alcoholic beverage that they contain.  Beverages that do not exceed 0.5 percent alcohol by volume are not considered to be an alcoholic beverage. 

The quantity of alcohol you bring with you must be within the limits that are set by the province or territory where you want to move to Canada from.  If the value of the alcohol is more than the free allowance, you will have to pay taxes as well as provincial or territorial assessments.  If you plan on taking alcoholic beverages to Canada, you will need to contact the appropriate provincial or territorial liquor control authority before, so you can pay the fees needed to beforehand.  To have your package released, you will have to provide a copy of the receipt and pay all the applicable federal assessments. For more advice and tips on how to move to Canada alcoholic beverages please contact our office.


Emigration requirementsWhen emigrating from the UK you are able to bring all of the following tobacco amounts into Canada free of taxes if these are in your possession when crossing the border:

  • 200 cigarettes;
  • 50 cigars;
  • 200 tobacco sticks; and
  •  7 ounces of manufactures tobacco


If you include tobacco sticks, manufactured tobacco or cigarettes in your personal exemption allowance for emigrating to Canada from UK, a partial allowance may apply to them.  For these products, you will have to pay a special duty on them unless they are marked “Canada Duty Paid”. 

Following the requirements when one immigrate to Canada is very important. If you bring in more than what is allowed in your personal allowance, you will have to pay regular assessments on the excess amount.  The regular assessments can include duty and taxes as well as provincial or territorial fees.

Monetary instruments and currency

If you import or export monetary instruments equal to or greater than CAN$10,000 (or anything equivalent in foreign currency), you must report it to the CBSA when you arrive to or leave Canada.  This also applies to either cash or any other monetary instruments. 

Emigrants and blocked currency

Some countries have a limit on the amount of money you are allowed to take out of the country, so it is best to check banker or financial advisor beforehand. Professionals will advice you what are the Emigration requirements to Canada. If you are limited on how much you can move out of the UK, you might be able to take advantage of a special provision that might let you claim free importation for certain goods.

To claim free importation or goods when immigrating to Canada under the provisions of the Settlers' Effects Acquired with Blocked Currencies Remission Order, you must provide proof that the country you are coming from actually does have restrictions on the transfer of capital.  Immigrants that come from countries that have currency restrictions have up to three years to import goods that are purchased with blocked funds on deposit prior to their arrival in Canada.  These good are without reference to ownership, possession and use requirements. 

Moving Restrictions

Importation of certain goods is restricted in Canada.  The following are examples of some restricted goods.  Make sure you have all the information that is needed before attempting to move to Canada some of these items.

Weapons and firearms

You must declare all of your weapons and firearms when you are moving to Canada from the UK.  If you do not, you can possibly face prosecution and the weapons and/ or firearms may be seized.

Fireworks, explosives and ammunition

It is required for you to have written authorization and permits in order to bring fireworks, explosives and some types of ammunition into Canada.


Vehicles include any pleasure vehicles such as passenger cars, pick-up trucks, camper trucks, vans, motorcycles, Jeeps, snowmobiles, chassis cabs, motor homes and snowmobiles, as long as they are being used for non-commercial purposes. 

A vehicle is defined as anything that is capable of being driven on roads, by any means other than by muscular power and anything designed to run on rails, at least according to Transport Canada.  Any equipment that is mounted on rims and tires such as wood chippers and generators are considered vehicles as well as trailers for boats, camping, horse and stock. Read more about shipping a car.

Temporary importing restrictions

Once you emigrate to Canada you are only allowed to bring in a temporary vehicle into Canada if you are using it to transport your belongings in or out.  If you are to buy, lease, borrow or rent a vehicle outside of Canada for temporary or personal use, it must meet all of Transport Canada requirements or you will not be allowed to bring it into Canada.  If the vehicle does meet all of the requirements, you will need to pay any taxes that apply to it.

Plants, animals, foods and any other related products

How to move?Any plants, food, animals and any other related products must be declared when moving to Canada.  Food, animals and animal products can carry diseases, and plants or plant products can possibly carry an invasive species that is alien to Canada. 

Due to the risks that are possible when importing these, Government of Canada regulates the import and export of certain foods, animals, plants and other related products. 

Due to the emerging threats, the requirements for importing food, animals, plants and other related products are subject to changes any day.  In addition to the import requirements made by the CFIA and CITES, International Trade Canada and Foreign Affairs set limits on the dollar value and/ or the quantity of food products that you are able to bring to Canada in your personal entitlement or duty- free

Prescription drugs

Health products can be differently regulated in Canada than they would be in other countries.  As an example, some drugs can be available over the counter in some countries, while in Canada you may need a prescription for that same drug. 

Imported for commercial use

If you were to import farm equipment, vehicles or other equipment that can be used in construction, manufacturing, contracting or other items that can be used in a trade, you will have to pay the goods and services tax and any other tax applicable for these goods. Check our advice on furniture removals to Edmonton.

How to move to Canada?

Moving to Canada is easy. You do not need any visa to visit Canada. However if you are thinking of obtaining a permanent residency and a work permit you will have to follow the Canadian Immigration Requirements and emigration plans. Luckily there are many programs that you could apply for. How to emigrate to Canada will depend on your age, profession, education level, work experience, nationality and a few other factors. You can use our online form and provide us with some information about yourself. We will analyse your situation and advice what's the best way to emigrate to Canada for you. Also we will be happy to email you our step by step guide on how to immigrate to Canada from the UK, including our free estimate of furniture removals to Calgary or other locations. oWe have helped many Britons to relocate. We posses contact details and information about British and Scottish emigration to Canada. You can also contact Canadian Embassy in London for more information on emigrating.


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