Goods To Follow-Canada

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[edit] Temporary Workers and Students

Technically, the rules are different for temporary work permit holders and students who will be in Canada for less than three years.

Rules pertaining to them are outlined on this Canada Border Services Agency's document entitled Entering Canada to Study or Work.

The document suggests that temporary work permit holders and students who are entering Canada up to three years have to lodge a detailed list of goods they are importing into Canada, just as new settlers (permanent residents) have to do.

However, reports on the British Expats forum indicate that the rules are applied differently by different customs officers at different ports of entry.

Some temporary work permit holders entering Canada have found that they have been asked to complete Form B4 E, Personal Effects Accounting Document at their ports of entry.

So, even if you will be coming to Canada on a temporary work permit or study permit, you may want to take the precaution of creating lists of the goods you will be importing and jotting down the values of those goods in Canadian dollars, as new settlers (permanent residents) should do.

Here is a link to the web page that provides instructions for temporary workers and students - Visitors to Canada and other Temporary Residents.

[edit] Returning Residents

A Canadian resident who leaves Canada is supposed to lodge with the Canadian government a list of the possessions that he/she is removing from Canada.

A returning resident is allowed to bring into Canada, duty free, the possessions that he/she registered with the Canadian government upon his/her departure from Canada.

However, a returning resident will be charged duty on the possessions that he/she acquired abroad or the goods that he/she is bringing back to Canada but which he/she did not register with the Canadian government before departing.

If a returning Canadian resident did not register with the Canadian government a list of goods that he/she removed from Canada, and if that former Canadian resident will be returning to Canada with a foreign spouse, it is in the couple's interests to list their possession's on the foreign spouse's Goods To Follow list. The reason is that the foreign spouse, as a new settler, will be entitled to bring his/her belongings into Canada duty free. (For more information about Goods To Follow lists, see the information for New Settlers, below.)

Customs officers at Canadian ports of entry sometimes don't care about Goods To Follow lists, and returning residents who don't follow proper procedures sometimes get away with it. However, if you want to be on the safe side, you cannot assume that customs officers never pay attention to these formalities.

[edit] New Settlers

Please note that the information in the rest of this article is for new settlers, that is, newly arriving permanent residents.

[edit] Quick clarification

Because of many misconceptions that have arisen in connection with importing personal possessions into Canada, please note the following:

  • You do not have to complete Form B4.
  • You do not have to type the information.
  • It is okay to write the lists by hand.
  • But, if you write the lists by hand, you need to print neatly and legibly.
  • You do not have to list your belongings in detail.
  • It is absolutely fine to list GROUPS of possessions, such as linen, clothes, books, kitchen utensils, etc.
  • To see how to write the lists, please see the section called Examples, below.

Because of the misconceptions continue, this information is being repeated in a different font colour in the hopes that you will notice it:

  • You do not have to complete Form B4.
  • You do not have to type the information.
  • It is okay to write the lists by hand.
  • But, if you write the lists by hand, you need to print neatly and legibly.
  • You do not have to list your belongings in detail.
  • It is absolutely fine to list GROUPS of possessions, such as linen, clothes, books, kitchen utensils, etc.
  • To see how to write the lists, please see the section called Examples, below.


[edit] What can I bring?

  • Here is the Canada Border Services Agency's web page that explains the goods that new settlers are allowed to bring to Canada with them and which goods can be brought in free of duty and taxes.
  • If you really want to study the rules in detail, read Memorandum D2-2-1 concerning Settlers' Effects - Tariff Item No. 9807.00.00.


[edit] Procedure

[edit] Before you land

  • Before you land in Canada, you should prepare two lists (preferably typewritten) of the possessions you intend to bring with you to Canada.
  • The lists should be:
    • a list of goods accompanying, that is, the goods that you will carry with you when you land
    • a list of the goods that will follow later
  • Please note that these need to be two separate lists.


[edit] When you land

  • It would be nice for the customs officer at your port of entry if you were to provide two copies of each list, but this is not essential. If you do not have a spare copy of each list, the customs officer will photocopy the lists.
  • At your port of entry you have to provide to the customs officer the list of the goods that you are bringing with you and your list of Goods To Follow. If you don't have any goods with you when you land, you still have to provide your list of Goods To Follow.
  • Yes, completing Form B4 E in advance will speed up your interactions with the customs official at your Canadian port of entry, but completing this form in advance is entirely optional.
  • If you have not already completed two copies of Form B4 E, the customs officer will prepare them on your behalf, based on the lists of goods you submit.
  • The officer will assign you a file number and give you a receipt.
  • The officer will stamp both copies of both of your lists of goods. He/she will keep one set of lists and return the other set of lists to you.

[edit] When you claim your goods

  • When your goods arrive in Canada, the moving company will notify you.
  • You will need to go to a customs depot with the Goods To Follow list that the customs officer had stamped when you landed at your port of entry.
  • The customs office will reconcile your copy of the Goods To Follow list with the one that they have on file, and they will release your goods free of duties and taxes.
  • Then, depending on the level of service for which you have paid, you can arrange for the moving company to deliver your goods to your residence, or you can go to the moving company's warehouse and take delivery of your goods yourself.
  • If you do not have the time to go to the customs depot yourself, you can hire a customs broker to handle this for you.


[edit] Which forms to use

  • In post #13 of this thread on the BE forum, "printer" attached fillable versions of Form B4 E, Personal Effects Accounting Document (commonly known as Goods To Follow form).
  • Please note that the empty version of Form B4 E, Personal Effects Account Document is the same, whether it's to be used for the goods that accompany you to Canada and for the goods that will follow later.
    • If you have both goods accompanying and goods to follow, you will need two copies of Form B4 E, Personal Effects Account Document.
    • About half way down Form B4 E, there are boxes that you check to indicate whether or not the goods will follow later.
    • For the form that will act as the cover sheet for your Goods To Follow list, you should tick the Yes box next to Goods To Follow.
    • For the form that will act as the cover sheet for your goods accompanying list (that is, for the goods that accompany you at your Canadian port of entry), you should tick the No box next to Goods To Follow.
  • Form B4 A is the continuation sheet.
  • You can use as many B4 A continuation sheets as you need.
  • However, you are not obliged to use Form B4 A when you list the goods that you’re importing to Canada.
  • Repeat, you are not obliged to use Form B4 A when you list the goods that you’re importing to Canada.
  • It is perfectly acceptable to use Excel or other software to type and print your list.
  • If you write your list by hand, use neat printing.
  • If you have not completed two copies of the cover form, Form B4 E, in advance, the customs officer at your port of entry will complete them, based on the information that is provided in your detailed lists.

[edit] How to complete forms

  • In the case of items that can be identified individually, e.g., electronic goods that have serial numbers, you are supposed to itemize brand name, model and serial number.
  • If you will be importing precious jewellery, provide detailed descriptions and preferably photographs.
  • Beyond that, you do not have to complete the Goods To Follow forms in great detail.
  • Let’s suppose you have six boxes of books. You do not have to itemize each book and give its value. All you need to do is type, "6 boxes of books," and state a value for all of the books, collectively. If you have a golf bag with golf clubs, there is no need to list the golf clubs individually. Just type, "golf bag and golf clubs," and provide a collective value. If you have a toolbox with a bunch of different tools in it, type, "toolbox with assorted tools," and again provide a collective value.
  • Please note that you do not have to list items in great detail. When you provide a collective value for clothes, you do not have to list your shirts, trousers, socks, underwear, etc. Similarly, if you provide a collective value for bed linen, you do not have to list pillow cases, single bed sheets, double bed sheets, etc. Again, in the case of bath linen, you do not have to list bath mats, bath towels, hand towels, and facecloths. In each of these cases, just provide a collective value for the category.
  • There are example lists in the Examples section of this article, below.
  • If you will be shipping only a few items of sentimental value (photographs and the like), don't stress yourself over the monetary values to quote. After all, who's to say what some photographs and a 20-year-old teddy bear are worth? Just suck some numbers out of the air.
  • However, keep in mind that a copy of your Goods To Follow list can serve as the manifest that you lodge with your insurance company if you insure your goods during their passage to Canada.
    • If you are using your Goods To Follow list for insurance purposes, you'll want to list replacement values rather than secondhand values. In the (admittedly unlikely) event that your shipment came to harm, you'd want your insurance company to compensate you for the replacement value of your belongings.
    • If you have rare books that would be difficult and expensive to replace, it would be much easier to prove that you had shipped such books if you had submitted a detailed, itemized list with the insurance company.
  • You must provide values in Canadian dollars. You can get the exchange rate between British pounds and Canadian dollars at the XE website.
  • It's a good idea to have a subtotal of the value of the goods at the bottom of each page and a grand total of the value of all of your goods on the last page.
  • If you bring your own list, or the inventory list your relocation company provided, it is a good idea to have your name on each page, number the pages as "page x of y," and leave some space for the customs stamp at the bottom of the page.
  • The form asks you to provide your Canadian address.
    • If you do not yet have an address in Canada, you can use your shipper's address.
    • If you are absolutely stumped for an address, you might consider using this one: 201 Fairview Rd, Barrie, Ontario L4N 0A1. It is the address of a McDonalds Restaurant that was obtained via a Google search.


[edit] What to include in list

  • Once your Goods To Follow list has been stamped by a customs officer in Canada, you cannot add anything to it.
  • This is true even if your personal and household effects are shipped to Canada many months after you've had your Goods To Follow list stamped at a Canadian port of entry.
  • So, if you are not sure if you will ship a certain item, say a bed, to Canada, it is prudent to include it in your Goods To Follow list -- just in case you end up shipping it.
  • Remember that recording something on your Goods To Follow list does not set up any sort of obligation. You don't have to ship to Canada everything that is on your Goods To Follow list.
  • But, if you do record an item on your Goods To Follow list, you reserve the right to ship it to Canada, duty-free, at any time in the future.
  • As long as your possessions have been recorded on your Goods To Follow list and that list has been stamped by Canada Border Services Agency at the time of your "landing" in Canada, you can ship those items to Canada duty-free in dribs and drabs. That is, you can split the possessions into different shipments, and you can stagger those shipments over as long a period of time as you choose.
  • Recent experience has shown that if you are bringing a pet then this should be included on the good-to-follow list.

[edit] Examples

Your Goods To Follow list may include items like the following:

6 boxes of books .............................................. $X,XXX
1 box of kitchen utensils .................................... $XXX
4 boxes of bath linen ........................................ $XXX
5 boxes of bed linen ......................................... $XXX
TOTAL GOODS TO FOLLOW ............................... $XX,XXX


Your Goods Accompanying list may include:

1 suitcase ...................................................... $XXX
1 shoulder bag ................................................ $XXX
clothes in suitcase .......................................... $X,XXX
1 laptop computer (brand, model, serial number) ... $X,XXX
1 camera (brand, model, serial number) ............... $XXX
TOTAL GOODS ACCOMPANYING .......................... $XX,XXX


Your actual lists probably will be longer. Your Goods To Follow list may run to several pages. The point of this example is just to demonstrate the level of detail that is required.


[edit] Time limit on Goods To Follow

  • There is no time limit on importing, free of duties and taxes, items that are on your Goods To Follow list.
  • As long as the items are listed on your Goods To Follow list, you can import them to Canada, free of duties and taxes, years or decades later.
  • You can import the goods into Canada in a single subsequent shipment or in multiple subsequent shipments spread out over time.


[edit] Preparing goods for shipment

  • Before your household effects are packed for shipment to Canada, you should scrub clean items that have been used outdoors and that could have soil on them.
  • This includes garden furniture, bicycles, barbecues, lawn mowers and garden tools.


[edit] Mattress fumigation

  • Although used and second hand mattresses that are imported to Canada have to be fumigated, used mattresses that are being imported by new settlers and returning residents are exempt from this requirement.
  • If you want more information about this, please see the Wiki article called Mattress Fumigation.


[edit] If goods arrive before you

  • Your goods are supposed to arrive in Canada at the same time as you arrive or after you arrive.
  • If your goods arrive in Canada before you do, they have to be kept in bonded storage.
  • Most moving companies offer this service.
  • The moving company may be willing to keep your goods in bonded storage for free if the bonded storage period lasts for just a few days, but even then they may charge extra for it.
  • Certainly the moving company will charge extra for bonded storage if it lasts for more than a week or two.
  • Canada Post does not provided a bonded warehousing service. If you use the postal service to ship your goods to Canada, you must time the shipment so that you arrive in Canada before your Goods To Follow arrive.

[edit] What does "land in Canada" mean?

  • For the purposes of submitting a Goods To Follow form, "landing in Canada" means arriving in Canada with the intention of establishing a permanent home. See the CBSP publication here
  • For example, someone may "land" in Canada in order to activate their permanent residence status. They may then return to the UK to sell their house and get their household goods packed and shipped to Canada.
  • Anecdotal evidence from posters on this site suggests that some Customs Officers are considering a new immigrant's intentions. If the purpose of their visit is to "land" in Canada in order to activate their permanent residence status, but not to take up actual residence, then they will not process the immigrant's Goods to Follow list. Instead, they direct the immigrant to submit their Goods to Follow list when they move to Canada to live.
  • If you are traveling to Canada only to land for immigration purposes it is suggested that you prepare a Goods to Follow list with your best estimates (and it is better to over estimate) of what goods you will bring when you eventually move. However, do not be surprised if a Customs Officer decides not to process the list at this time.
  • If you are coming to Canada on a TWP (duration of less than 3yrs) you do not need a Goods to Follow list, you are only importing your goods temporarily, no duty is liable. It is expected that you will remove your goods from Canada when your permit expires and you leave. If you become a PR whilst in Canada on a TWP, you would present your Goods to Follow list when you land.

[edit] Ping pong between UK and Canada

  • Some people land in Canada and activate their permanent resident status, return to the UK to finalize their affairs there, and then return to Canada to settle.
  • Some posters on the BE forum have asked how they handle the suitcase, clothes and hand luggage that they take with them on the plane when they initially land in Canada, but that they then remove from Canada and bring back to Canada later.
  • The goods that accompany you when you first land in Canada and activate your PR status have to be on your goods accompanying list at that time.
  • If you take them out of Canada and bring them back to Canada later, they don't have to be on any list at all.
  • These things already will have been listed on the goods accompanying form which will have been stamped at your port of entry, and which you should keep for future reference.
  • It will be the same when you're actually living in Canada and leave Canada on holiday. When you return to Canada from your holiday abroad, you don't have to declare the used clothes and other used items that you'd owned prior to the holiday and that you're bringing back into Canada.


[edit] Work tools

Please note that CBSA's website states:

However, houses, large trailers you use as residences, and any goods you use or will use commercially are not eligible as personal or household effects. These goods are subject to regular customs duties.

So, if you have carpentry tools or the like, you may want to give careful thought as to whether you own them for work or for DIY purposes.

[edit] Vehicles

  • Importing vehicles is much more complicated than importing most other personal and household possessions.
  • If you, as a new settler, have owned and used a vehicle abroad, you may import it into Canada without paying customs duties or federal GST. In some cases, however, you will have to pay provincial sales tax (PST).
  • Remember that vehicle registration documents will make it easy for Canadian authorities to determine how long you have owned the vehicle.
  • In addition to that, there are strict rules concerning compliance with Canada's motor vehicle safety standards. See Registrar of Imported Vehicles for more details.
  • If you buy a car in a country other than your homeland, en route to Canada, it is strongly recommended that you read Clause 14 in the section on Use, Possession and Ownership in Memorandum D2-2-1.

[edit] Money

  • You should not include money in the container of goods that you ship to Canada, whose contents are itemized on your Goods To Follow list.
  • You'll most likely have some money on your person when you land in Canada.
  • If you have $10,000 or more in cash (or the equivalent of cash) on your person when you land, you must declare it. You will not be taxed on it. You just need to declare it.
  • If you use a bank or foreign exchange specialist to transfer money from the UK to Canada, the institution in question will declare the transfer to the government on your behalf. Again, you will not be taxed on the transfer. The government merely wants to keep tabs on large transfers of money (to monitor money laundering activities, etc.).
  • If you applied for permanent residence via the skilled worker route, you will be asked for Proof of Funds when you land at a Canadian port of entry and ask to have your PR status activated.
  • However, that issue is separate from the Personal Effects Accounting Documents that are the subject of this article.

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