Straight from the website of Canada Customs. Note what is highlighted in red. I have added the link for reference.
Returning Residents of Canada who shop in the U.S.
A guide for residents of Canada returning to Canada
RC4044(E) Rev. 05
This pamphlet is an overview of the laws, restrictions, entitlements, rights, and obligations of Canadian residents returning from travel outside Canada. Legislation takes precedence and you should consult it for exact information. The information in this publication was accurate when it was published. However, legislative provisions and requirements can change at any time. We make every effort to provide timely updates.
If you have information about suspicious cross-border activity, please call the Canada Border Services Agency Border Watch toll-free line at
Serving residents of Canada
The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) operates at about 1,370 service points across Canada and nearly 40 locations abroad. It employs 10,000 public servants who serve some 170,000 commercial importers and more than 98 million travellers each year.
The CBSA’s role is to manage the nation’s borders by administering and enforcing about 90 domestic laws that govern trade and travel, as well as international agreements and conventions.
CBSA officers are at Canada’s entry points to help you when you return to Canada. We are committed to providing efficient, courteous service. At designated bilingual offices we will serve you in the official language of your choice. We want to make your return to the country as pleasant and problem-free as possible.
If you require more detailed information that is not provided in this brochure, please call the Automated Customs Information Service (ACIS) line. ACIS telephone numbers can be found on page 29 of this publication.
Is this pamphlet for you?
If you are a Canadian resident intending to travel outside Canada or are returning home after travelling to a foreign country for any period of time, you may find this pamphlet helpful. It provides detailed information that all residents of Canada should know before returning home.
Before you leave
To avoid problems and delays in clearing customs when you return, there are several things you can do before you leave.
Make sure you carry proper identification for yourself and any children travelling with you to assist in confirming your legal right to enter Canada upon your return. Proper identification includes a Canadian birth certificate, a Canadian passport, a permanent residence card, a citizenship card or a certificate of Indian status.
Parents who share custody of their children should carry copies of the legal custody documents. It is also recommended that they have a letter of authorization from the other custodial parent to take the child on a trip out of the country. Such a letter will confirm that the child is not being abducted or taken against his/her will. Included in the letter of authorization should be the parents’ full name, address and telephone number.
When travelling with a group of vehicles, parents or guardians should arrive at the border in the same vehicle as the children.
Adults who are not parents or guardians should have a written permission from the parents or guardians to supervise the children. The permission letter should include addresses and telephone numbers where the parents or guardian can be reached.
CBSA officers watch for missing children, and may ask detailed questions about the children who are travelling with you.
Protecting your valuables
Before travelling outside of Canada with valuable items, you may wish to take advantage of a free identification service that is available at any of our CBSA offices. This service is available for items that have serial numbers or other unique markings. For items that do not have such markings, the CBSA can apply a sticker to them so they can be identified for customs purposes as goods legally in Canada.
When you show your valuables to the CBSA officer and state that you acquired them in Canada or lawfully imported them, the officer will list your valuables and their serial numbers on a wallet-sized card called a Form Y38, Identification of Articles for Temporary Exportation. If you are questioned about your goods when you return to Canada, simply show your card to the CBSA officer. This will help identify the valuables that were in your possession before leaving the country.
Because jewelry often has significant value and can be difficult to identify, CBSA officers cannot list it on a Form Y38. It is recommended that you travel with as little jewellery as possible. Taking the following steps before you leave Canada will make it easier for you to re-enter the country with jewellery:
Obtain an appraisal report and signed and dated photograph of each piece of jewellery from a recognized Canadian gemologist, jeweller or your insurance agent.
Obtain written certification that the items or jewellery in the photographs are the ones described in the appraisal report.
Take the jewellery, appraisal reports, certification statements and photographs to a CBSA office to be validated.
If the jewellery was purchased in Canada, retain the sales receipt. If you imported the goods previously, make sure you have a copy of your customs receipt.
Carry the appraisal reports, the certifications and photographs when travelling outside Canada.
Modifying an item outside Canada
Under customs law, if you take any item outside Canada and change it in any way to enhance its condition or value, we do not consider it to be the same item when you bring it back into the country. You have to declare the full value of the new item.
You take an old diamond ring with you on a trip outside Canada. While outside of Canada you decide to have the diamond taken out of the old ring and placed in a new setting. When you return to Canada, the ring will be considered to be new and must be declared accordingly.
Even if part of the ring originated in Canada, the CBSA is required to treat the ring like any other piece of jewellery you may have purchased while outside the country. This rule applies unless you have previous authorization from us to have those repairs or alterations made outside of Canada.
Repairs or modifications to your vehicle
If you intend to have repairs or modifications made to your vehicle outside Canada, check with the CBSA before you leave. Under customs legislation, the CBSA can no longer consider your vehicle, vessel, or aircraft to be Canadian-made if you increase its value, improve its condition, or have it modified outside of Canada. As a result, you may have to pay duty and Goods and Services Tax (GST) or Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) on its entire value when you bring it back.
Repairs or alterations made to your vehicle/vessel/aircraft in the United States, Mexico, Chile, or Israel will be free of duty when it is re-imported into Canada. GST/HST will apply to the value of the repairs or alterations.
Incidental minor repairs can be made to your vehicle/vessel/aircraft, or parts replaced while you are travelling outside of Canada to maintain your vehicle/vessel/aircraft in proper operating condition. Although these minor repairs do not make the whole vehicle subject to assessment, you may still have to pay duty and GST/HST on the repair parts and labour.
If you must make repairs or get replacement parts due to an accident, repairs are allowed to ensure the safe return of your vehicle to Canada. CBSA officers may be able to apply a special provision in the regulations that waives any duty and GST/HST that may be payable. To be eligible for this special provision, however, be sure to declare the value of all repairs and replacement parts when you return to Canada with the vehicle.
Transport Canada also has requirements for vehicles that are extensively modified. For more information, contact them at 1-888-848-8240.