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Bringing Camera and Computer into Canada


Dec 9th, 2004, 03:48 AM
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Bringing Camera and Computer into Canada

I'm planning on bringing a high-end digital camera and lens, along with my laptop, into T.O. for an upcoming trip. (I'm a semi-pro photographer.)

Do I need to register them with customs before I enter Canada, or before I return to US? Can't I just verbally declare them?

It's been almost 20 years since I've been over the border and don't remember us ever registering items before crossing.

If I need to file a "Certificate of Registration," how long ahead do I need to do that? Where do I need to go? What's the process?

This "simple" 4-day trip is starting to seem like more trouble than it's worth. I'm starting to get discouraged because I really want to visit. Any and all advice is greatly appreaciated!

P.S. I'm a AAA member.

Thanks again!
BlueLapis is offline  
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Dec 9th, 2004, 06:50 AM
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Hello BlueLapis,

Here is "Customs Information for Visitors to Canada and Seasonal Residents" from the Canada Border Services Agency's website:


I see nothing on there that suggests you'll need to do anything special about your camera, lens, and laptop when you enter Canada.

Here's what the U.S. Customs and Border Protection's website has to say about registering possessions in order to be able to bring them back to the U.S. duty-free:

"If your laptop computer was made in Japan -- for instance -- you might have to pay duty on it each time you brought it back into the United States, unless you could prove that you owned it before you left on your trip. Documents that fully describe the item -- such as sales receipts, insurance policies, or jeweler's appraisals -- are acceptable forms of proof.

"To make things easier, you can register certain items with CBP [Customs and Border Protection] before you depart -- including watches, cameras, laptop computers, firearms, and CD players -- as long as they have serial numbers or other unique, permanent markings. Take the items to the nearest CBP office and request a Certificate of Registration (CBP Form 4457). It shows that you had the items with you before leaving the United States, and all items listed on it will be allowed duty-free entry. CBP officers must see the item you are registering in order to certify the certificate of registration. You can register items with CBP at the international airport from which youíre departing. Keep the certificate for future trips."

That came from this website:


It sounds like a nuisance to register your camera and laptop, but it also would be a good investment of time, in that the registration would be valid for all future returns to the U.S. from foreign trips, whether to Canada or to other countries.

Yes, Canada is a foreign country for you, and all foreign travel involves some hassles (you need more identity documents than you usually carry around on you, you need different money, etc.). Only you can decide if it's worth the bother.

I too do a quick and dirty cost / benefit analysis when I travel outside of Canada.
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
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Dec 9th, 2004, 07:12 AM
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I've just noticed that the United States' CBP website mentioned the registration of firearms so that they could be brought back into the U.S. duty-free.

Okay, that is a completely different can of worms. Canada does not permit handguns. Canada does permit most other kinds of firearms, but has a very strict process for registering them. The procedure is laid out on the Canada Border Services Agency's website mentioned in my previous post.

I'm not saying you intend to bring a firearm to Canada. I mention it just in case, and I also mention it because the United Sates' CBP website seems to treat the topic of firearms more casually than its Canadian counterpart does.
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Dec 9th, 2004, 10:50 AM
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Judy, you are a jewel!!! Great answers.

There's a brief handgun story I want to share... I was making a long drive from Oklahoma to Waterloo to pick up my son from college. (He is an international student at Waterloo.) I asked him to ask his friends if they wanted anything from the states. Their immediate answer was handguns! What a joke. I almost brought them a bunch of water guns to return the chuckle I had at their request.

I can safely say anytime I have done a border crossing into Canada by car, I am always asked the handgun/firearms question by the Canadian border patrol officers. I can't remember if this is asked on trips where I've flown in or not.

Our son is constantly toting his PC and back and forth. This is twice a year: beginning of fall term and end of winter term. He leaves the monitor in Canada with friends for convenience during the summer. He totes a digital camera as well... although his equipment is not high-end. This is his third year at Waterloo and the experience has been so wonderful for him. He has made such good friends and has stretched himself quite a bit intellectually.

In any case, my son has not had any trouble toting all his goodies back and forth. He's done border crossings through the airport at Toronto as well as going through Port Huron/Sarnia.

Have a wonderful trip! Everytime I have been to Canada I have left enchanted. That's probably one reason our son choose to attend university in Canada...he also loves that great country.

SharonNRayMc is offline  
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Dec 9th, 2004, 12:53 PM
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As far as I know there's no reason to register your camera and computer with any Canadian organization. Similarly, there's no need for Canadians to register anything with the USA.

The key is convincing the US authorities that you did not buy this stuff in Canada.

The only problem you might have would arise if the Candian customs and immigration officials thought you were coming to Canada to work professionally, taking work away from Canadian photographers. With the North America Free Trade Agreement, it is easier for pros to cross the border, but there are still occasional hassles.

If all you have is one body and one lens and perhaps an on-camera flash, you shouldn't have problems.

I've had US customs block me for carrying several bodies and lenses and flash guns, though.

Do not anticipate that when you return to the USA you will deal with intelligent decision makers at the border. You might, or you might meet absolute idiots unable to realize, for instance, that a computer with year old e-m,ails on it and files dating back to 2002 is not newly acquired in Canada. So, sales reciepts, or copies of dated warranty cards with serial numbers, or those US customs export/import cards, are not a bad idea.

Other advice: Toronto is full of used medium format film camera bargains, so if you need anything, plan ahead and check US prices for comparison before you leave home.

And the Canon 580EX flash may be less in Canada than in the US. Bodies and lenses are the same price either side of the border, or cheaper in the USA.


BAK is offline  
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Dec 9th, 2004, 01:21 PM
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Sharon, I'm so glad you enjoy Canada.
I live about an hour from Waterloo, and I love this area. It's great to hear that your son is happy going to school here.
( I hope he makes out ok with his phone plan)
kodi is offline  
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Dec 12th, 2004, 05:43 PM
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Thank you, kodi. The area around Waterloo is a beautiful area. I'll discuss phone plan ideas with our son when he gets home from school... I can't believe he'll be home this coming Thursday! (16 Dec).

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