Moving to Canada - What should I take?

Old Jan 4th 2013, 4:11 pm
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Default Moving to Canada - What should I take?

When moving to Canada, Personal effects imported for your own use and owned by you do not attract duty or other taxes on arrival, providing you have owned and used them prior to departure. An exception however can be tools that you identify you will use commercially for your work which will not be eligible as household effects and therefore subject to customs duties.

As with moving anywhere in the world there are two schools of thought as to what items you take with you and what you leave behind.

The first is ‘don’t ship more than you have to’. One of the main elements of shipping costs is the volume, so the less boxes and furniture you ship the cheaper it will likely be. If you are shipping a full container then it makes sense to fill it as the main cost is the freight space, which won’t change, the only variable costs are insurance (usually a % value of your goods) and packing costs, but this aren’t significantly different for a few extra items. Groupage (shared container loads) on the other hand means paying for only the space you take up, so the more you use the more you pay, so here a few extra items can change costs a little more.

The second way of looking at it is based on cost of replacement at destination.


In Canada furniture can (Whilst often being of high quality) be expensive, Canadian houses are on average slightly bigger than in the UK so more space to fill up!

Tip - Try to have a look at furniture retailers (either during a scouting trip or online stores) and see what it would cost to replace items you’re thinking of leaving behind, and compare this with the cost of shipping them.

It’s very common for homes in Canada to have built in wardrobes (“closets” if we’re going to get the lingo right!) so it is probably not worth shipping wardrobes to Canada unless you can check first that your property doesn’t have them built in.

Appliances & Electrical Goods

There are some items you should probably not bother taking due to incompatibility of electrical voltage in Canada (the power source of Canada is 110v, the power source in the UK is 220v.) For example leave behind your major appliances like fridge/freezers. Smaller items that are dual voltage are ok but check first that their voltage range includes 110v. Some 220v appliances can be used in Canada but you’ll need additional transformers and adapters to plug them in and change the voltage.

Tip - White goods will often come as part of the sale when you buy or rent a house in Canada, so check this out beforehand. Small appliances like toasters, kettles etc are relatively cheap so not usually worth shipping as you’d have to use a voltage converter and adapter to operate anyway.

TVs can be used in Canada, with just a few things to check first. Make sure the power range covers 110v, you’ll be able to plug this in with a simple adapter, if it doesn’t cover 110v then you’ll have to get an additional transformer too. Signal and reception is the second thing to look at. Your TV will need to be multi-region to receive analogue TV in Canada as this uses the NTSC signal type vs. PAL in the UK. Freeview will not pick up digital TV in Canada as again the digital signal type is different. Cable TV can be hooked up to your UK TV using a set top box providing you have the right connections. DVD players will also need to be multi-region to play locally purchased DVD’s, Canada is Region 1 whereas UK is Region 2

Things to look out for when importing Household goods to Canada:

Canadian border services have cracked down on goods entering Canada that are contaminated with soil, so make sure to scrub clean any items that have been used outdoors or contain traces of soil to avoid costly and stressful procedures should your goods be inspected and found non-compliant. These goods will be refused entry and you’ll be responsible for the costs of return shipment / cleaning or ultimate disposal. Think about garden furniture, shoes, garden tools and equipment and bicycles/sporting equipment.


If you need to import a vehicle into Canada, be aware of the Canadian import laws. The vehicle must meet the requirements of the Canada Border Service Agency (CBSA), Transport Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) before it can be imported. For returning Canadian citizen/resident, a vehicle may be imported if it was originally manufactured for Canadian or U.S. (modifications may be needed) markets or if it’s older than 15 years. Vehicles not manufactured for Canadian or U.S. markets are not allowed to be imported.

For temporary residents, the above restrictions do not apply. They can import their vehicles as long as they are re-exported at the expiration of their work permits. Temporary import vehicles may not be sold or disposed of in Canada. These requirements apply to cars, trucks, vans motorcycles, snow mobiles, motor homes, trailers or any other equipment mounted on rims and tires.

A vehicle cannot be imported that was manufactured to meet the safety standards of a country other than the U.S. or Canada unless the vehicle is the following.
• 15 years or older (excluding buses)
• A bus manufactured before January 1, 1971
• Entering Canada temporarily

If your vehicle is less than 15 years or is bus manufactured on or after January 1, 1971, you must prove that your vehicle qualifies for one of the above exemptions. Vehicles must be completely clean of any type of dirt. A certificate of cleaning is recommended.
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