When you return to Canada, you may qualify for a personal exemption. Personal exemptions allow you to bring goods of a certain value into the country without paying duties. The term duties can include excise taxes, goods and services tax (GST), or harmonized sales tax (HST). It does not include provincial or territorial sales tax. However, we have working relationships with some provinces and territories that allow us to collect provincial and territorial taxes, levies, and fees for them.
The federal government has entered into agreements with certain provinces to collect HST effective April 1, 1997, at a rate of 15 per cent. If you reside in a participating province, and the value of the non-commercial goods you import exceeds your personal exemption, you will have to pay HST instead of GST regardless of where you enter Canada.
Except for restricted items, you can bring back any amount of goods, as long as you are willing to pay the duties and any provincial or territorial assessments that apply. This rule applies even if you do not qualify for any kind of personal exemption. To find out if the goods you are bringing back are worth more than your personal exemption, convert foreign-currency values to Canadian dollars at the appropriate rate of exchange.
Note: All amounts quoted are in Canadian dollars.