Here is the first part of our guide to customs for importing household effects into Canada. Please contact our International office for any further information on the process of moving to and from Canada. They will be happy to advise you on 01902 714555 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The owner of the household goods, or their spouses, are the only people who can clear customs in Canada. The owner of the goods is required to present themselves and all relevant paperwork in-person to customs. To avoid storage or demurrage charges, the owner is required to be present when the goods arrive.
Only diplomats may appoint an agent to clear on their behalf. Although this is not the case with all diplomatic shipments.
At the first point of arrival in Canada, the owner of the effects, must give their list of goods to the border services officer, even if the goods themselves have not arrived at the time of owner’s entry into the country.
B4 Personal Effects Accounting Document
Dependent on the list of goods submitted, the customs officer may require that the shipper complete a B4 ‘Personal Effects Accounting Document’. The officer will provide the shipper with a copy of the form as a receipt.
This in itself doesn’t constitute clearance. It acts as an alert to the Canadian customs of the goods being on their way. Once the household effect do actually arrive, the shipper will still have to present themselves and present the copy of the form to claim free importation of their unaccompanied goods.
If a B4 form is not received upon arrival in Canada, it will be completed when the shipment does arrive and the owner of the effects clears the items at the customs office.
Returning Canadian Citizens
For those Canadian citizens who are returning to Canada, customs will allow their household goods to be imported duty free as long as they have been out of the country for more than 12 months.
To clear customs, returning Canadian citizens will require original valid passports for each family member; a copy of the shipping manifest as provided by the appointed shipping company; a complete copy of the inventory; a B4 form and file number (if relevant); proof of the period of absence from Canada (eg a foreign work permit, rent receipts etc).