Canada, like most other countries of the world is tough on tackling importation of restricted and prohibited goods and other substances crossing its borders.
By this, certain concerns important to international travelers to Canada regarding prohibited goods and substances deemed as illegal and contraband in Canada must be given utmost attention as possession of these substances in an attempt to cross into Canada is deemed a criminal offence.
Without obtaining proper permission and authorization, you must not be found with these substances at any Canadian border.
Therefore, in this article we will be discussing six important substances which are illegal and prohibited from being brought into Canada for whatever reason, firstly, we will begin by establishing what illegal and prohibited substances are.
Table of Contents
- Difference between prohibited and restricted goods
- What are illegal substances?
- Firearms and weapons
- Procedures for individuals importing firearms
- Food, plants and animals
- Food, plant and animal inspections
- Bringing food, plant and animal products into Canada
- Explosives, fireworks and ammunition
- Restricted and prohibited goods – Vehicles
- Cannabis at the border
- Consumer products
- Consumer products and cosmetics
- Frequently Asked Question
Difference between prohibited and restricted goods
The main difference between prohibited and restricted is that prohibited means something is formally forbidden by law or authority whereas restricted means something is put under control or limits
Prohibitions goods for instance would mean the importation of the following goods: Narcotic and habit-forming drugs in any form. Fully automatic, military, and unnumbered weapons, explosives and fireworks. Poison and other toxic substances
- That a good is allowed, but only within a limited quantity.
- Or that a particular good can be sent by post, but only if it meets certain requirements
What are illegal substances?
Any substance termed as illegal is consider as one against a statutory law or that breaks the rules prohibiting it. Consequently, not only actions, which go against the law, such as robbing a bank or kidnapping are deemed as illegal.
However, there’s a wide range or long list of things which can be referred to as illegal, from small acts to bigger ones, nevertheless, it doesn’t matter the level of seriousness or weight, if it is against the law, it is illegal.
In addition, as it concerns travelling into Canada and in possession of certain substances, to avoid the possibility of penalties, including fines, seizure or prosecution, it is important that you ensure you have the necessary information before attempting to import items into Canada.
Therefore, in Canada the following substances are designated as illegal and thus not allowed to be brought into Canada during any of your travel either directly to Canada or in transit. These include:
- Firearms and weapons
- Explosives, fireworks and ammunitions
- Food, plant and animals
- Consumer products
Firearms and weapons
First on the list of restricted and prohibited goods in Canada is firearms and weapons. These are very critical items which are placed on a priority watch-list in Canadian borders, thus, as a traveler coming to Canada you are not expected to be in possession of any form of firearm or weapon as this is against the law.
If however, you are authorized to carry one or to be in possession of one as a security personnel, or you are in the firearms and weapons business, it is your duty to ensure you notify the appropriate authority when coming into Canada with a firearm or when importing one. It is therefore important that you get as much information as possible about what is non-restricted, what are restricted and prohibited and how to import and declare weapons at the Canadian border.
Procedures for individuals importing firearms
You are mandated by law to declare all firearms to a border service officer when you arrive at the border provide any documents required and answer all questions truthfully. The border services officer must be convinced and satisfied that you have a valid reason for bringing the firearm into Canada, in addition, may check to ensure that you have stored your firearm properly for transportation.
Also, note that the border services officer is also required to review your documents in order to verify that the firearm you have matches the one described on the documents.
However, if you have declared a firearm but cannot meet the import requirements, or you do not possess the proper and necessary documents, the border services officer, may at his or her discretion, allow you to export the firearm from Canada.
Alternatively, the border services officer can detain the firearm, issue you a receipt while giving you a reasonable amount of time to present the correct documents to the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA).
You must be truthful and honest in providing answers, reasons and document for importing firearm to Canada. If you are not truthful, or if the border officer believes that you should not bring the firearm into Canada, the CBSA will detain it. Note, if you do not declare the firearm, the CBSA will seize it, consequently, you may face criminal charges.
If you need information about importing a specific firearm or weapon, contact the Canadian Firearms Program or the Border Information Service.
Food, plants and animals
Second on the list of the top 6 restricted and prohibited goods in Canada is food, plants and animals. these are important items on the immigration watch-list prohibited from being imported into Canada without due authorization is food substance, life animals, plants and other related products. Therefore, you must ensure you declare all food, plants, animals and related products to the customs and border officers. This is important to prevent you from bringing diseases and invasive species to Canada.
Food, plant and animal inspections
The responsible bodies for making the rules and obligations as regards food, plants and animals importation to Canada is the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC), and Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO).
These establish the requirements for all food, plants, animals and related products entering or leaving Canada. Meanwhile, the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) is responsible for enforcing these requirements as they apply at the border as it applies to both the travelers and commercial streams in all situations.
Bringing food, plant and animal products into Canada
Importing a single piece of fruit or meat into Canada, this can be harmful and detrimental to the ecosystems within Canada. Thus, several foods, including fruits, plants and animals, and animal products are restricted or prohibited from entering Canada because they can harbor invasive species, foreign animal diseases and plant pests.
These things can cause irreparable harm to Canada’s crops, livestock, environment, and threaten Canada’s economy.
There are varieties of different kinds of items which can introduce foreign threats into Canada. These include things as diverse as:
- food, such as raw or cooked meats, fruit/vegetables, milk
- homemade articles, such as items made from plants or wood
- live animals, including pets
- bait for recreational fishing
- plant cuttings, seeds, bulbs
- soiled hiking boots
For more information on requirements regarding food and plants, please visit the link: Food, Plant and Animal Inspections – Bringing food, plant and animal products into Canada (cbsa-asfc.gc.ca)
Explosives, fireworks and ammunition
third in the rank of top 6 restricted and prohibited goods for travels in Canada are explosives, fireworks and ammunitions. All of these items are not to be carried with you or in your luggage while travelling to Canada. However, if you must import these items into Canada for whatever purpose. Ensure that it is made known to the border officer.
You are required to apply online for import, export and in-transit permits issued by NRCan. Without proper authorization and following due process for bringing such items into Canada, your action will be dimmed as illegal and consequently punishable by law.
Restricted and prohibited goods – Vehicles
Number four on the list of top 6 restricted and prohibited goods is vehicles and other vehicular products. These must pass through the appropriate authorities; obtain the appropriate authorizations before they are allowed into Canada. Otherwise, being in possession of such will be considered illegal import. To import vehicles and other motor products or parts into Canada duties and taxes which apply must be cleared. In addition, vehicles owned by Canadian residents with US-plated numbers must also go through the clearing process. Pay the duties and tax to prevent fines, or prosecution.
Restricted and prohibited goods – Cannabis
Fifth in the list of the top 6 restricted and prohibited goods is cannabis. Cannabis is a stimulating substance on the no-import watch-list. Therefore, transporting cannabis across the Canadian border in any form without an adequate permit is a serious criminal offense. Cannabis like most other plant base narcotics are illegal to be fared or smuggled into Canada. You should stay clear of trying to bring cannabis into Canada, this will lead to dire consequences when caught.
Cannabis at the border
The Cannabis Act, which legalizes and regulates cannabis creates a strict legal framework, this controls the production, distribution, sale and possession of cannabis in Canada.
Transporting cannabis across the border in any form, including any and all oils containing THC or cannabidiol (CBD) without a permit or exemption authorized by Health Canada remains a serious criminal offence liable to arrest and prosecution, notwithstanding the legalization of cannabis in Canada. The prohibition applies regardless of:
- The amount or quantity of cannabis you have with you.
- Even if you hold a medical document authorizing you the use of cannabis for medical purposes.
- Or whether you are travelling from an area with legalized or decriminalized cannabis.
The bottom line is you are prohibited from holding or being in possession of cannabis in any form or quantity.
Sixth on the list is consumer goods. You must obtain proper authorization to import certain consumer products into Canada as required by law. Every consumer products in Canada have standards that must be met, these includes; quality and safety requirements amongst others. Thus, ensure you are aware of the safety requirements and quality standards in Canada before you import products into Canada.
This is important because if these standards are not met, your products will be confiscated and destroyed. In addition, some imported goods may pose danger to the Canadian public, and this is not acceptable. Therefore, all measures will be taken so that such does not get to the public.
Consumer products and cosmetics
Restricted and prohibited goods information on incident reporting recalls and alerts, cosmetic information, product safety education and consumer product requirements can be found and studied at: Consumer product safety reports – Canada.ca
Nothing prohibited and illegal in Canada can be found with you during your travel to Canada. It is therefore, important that you get enough information about these substances before you make your journey to Canada. Ignorance of these will not be entertained. The Canadian Border Service Agency are always on the lookout for such substances.
For more information about Canada border rules please visit the link: Crucial Canada Border Information for Travellers
Frequently Asked Question
How do you know what food, plant or animal are restricted and prohibited to be brought into Canada?
A number of regulated commodities require necessary documents or registrations without which they will not be allowed into Canada. if you intend to cross the border with food, plant or animal products, make sure to use the Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s Automated Import Reference System (AIRS).