Every year at Easter, Canadians travel to the United States and abroad to visit family and friends for the holidays. Every year, the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) steps up enforcement at the border because there are more travelers. Every year, some travelers fail to declare some goods purchased or acquired outside Canada. Every year, some people make real mistakes, others make honest mistakes, and others are innocently accused of violations under the Customs Act.

Be aware that the CBSA is looking for under-declarations.  The best way to prevent a problem is to keep organized records.  When you buy goods outside Canada, put the receipt on an organized file folder or envelop.  Do not throw out the receipts or keep then in the bags (as you may forget about a receipt or two).  Take 10 minutes before returning to Canada to prepare a written list of the goods acquired or received outside Canada and their values.  If you purchased the good, record the price on the sales receipt including taxes and shipping and delivery (if applicable).  If the goods were a gift, ask the giver to provide you with the receipt or the value.  If the gift was not recently purchased, try to locate a fair market value. If the goods are something you bought years ago (e.g., property of a family member), then get an appraisal for expensive items and/or look for a fair market value.

When preparing the list and adding the values, remember to convert the values into Canadian dollars.