Bringing back souvenirs and snacks from your travels is one of the highlights, but if you're not careful with what you pack, you might just run into issues when you reach customs at the airport.

Canada Border Services Agency has some pretty strict customs rules on the kinds of goods you're allowed to bring back to Canada with you from Europe. Not paying attention to these rules could end up costing you a chunk of change.

So if you want to avoid any issues when heading through Canadian airports, here's what you need to know about what you can and can't bring back with you to Canada from your European vacation.


If you're visiting Europe, you might be tempted to bring back some authentic food items like French Brie or Parmesan straight from Italy and the good news is that cheese is one of the few dairy products that is actually allowed. However, there are some rules you need to follow.

Guidelines from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency say that only certain dairy products are allowed to be brought into Canada for personal use and you need to make sure you declare them when heading through customs.

The only dairy products you are allowed to bring into Canada from Europe – or any country that isn't the United States –are cheese, ice cream, yogurt, and kashk (a dried yoghurt product).

There are also rules on just how much of these products you're allowed to bring with you. You can bring up to 20 kilograms if measured by weight and 20 litres if measured by volume so for most people, this should be more than enough.

While you might be tempted to skip declaring things like cheese to customs, failure to do so might actually mean your products will be seized, according to the Canada Border Services Agency website.

They could be permanently taken away from you, or you might have to pay a penalty of between 25% and 75% of the value of the seized goods to get them back, so declaring them is the best move.


If you are looking to bring meats back from your European adventure, things get quite tricky. Broadly, most meat products aren't allowed to be brought into Canada from Europe but there are some exceptions.

Fresh, dried, and cured meats such as hams and sausages are not permitted to be brought into Canada from countries outside the United States, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency said.

Some commercially prepared meat products are allowed to be brought into Canada, but only if they are cooked and shelf-stable and safe at room temperature, or if they're in a sealed container such as a glass jar, a can, a sealed pouch, or semi-rigid disposable serving dishes.

If the product contains beef, you are only allowed to bring it from countries with "negligible risk for Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy" otherwise known as mad cow disease. A full list of these countries is available on the Canadian Food Inspection Agency website.

Even if your meat products meet these guidelines, the packaging needs to clearly say what the product is and which country it originates from and you may need to have proof of the country of origin.

Any meat products will also need to be declared to avoid any penalties.


Tupungato | Dreamstime

A coffee shop in Amsterdam where some are legally able to sell cannabis

Despite the legalization of cannabis in Canada, don't even try and bring some back to Canada with you after travelling in Europe as it's not permitted and it's actually considered a serious criminal offence.

According to CBSA, bringing cannabis across the border in any form – including oils that contain THC or CBD – is considered a serious criminal offence which could lead to arrest and prosecution, unless you have a permit or exemption authorized by Health Canada.

The strict rules apply regardless of the amount of cannabis you have with you, whether you have a medical document authorizing the use of cannabis for medical purposes or whether you're travelling from an area with legalized or decriminalized cannabis such as Amsterdam.

If you do have cannabis with you with the correct permits or licences and you fail to declare it, you could face penalties of up to $2,000 at the Canadian border, CBSA added.


Bringing back alcohol is usually a big part of the duty free experience when travelling and you are able to bring alcohol into Canada from Europe, but there are some rules you need to follow.

CBSA rules state that if you've been out of Canada for 48 hours or more, you can import a certain amount of alcohol free of taxes and duty as a personal exemption.

For wine, you are allowed to bring up to 1.5 litres back or two 750 millilitre bottles and you can bring up to 8.5 litres of beer, which roughly equates to 24 33-millilitre cans or bottles.

For other alcoholic beverages, you can bring back up to 1.14 litres or the equivalent of one large standard bottle of liquor.

If you're bringing back booze, you'll also need to meet the minimum age or the province or territory where you enter Canada so you'll need to be 18 years old in Alberta, Manitoba or Quebec and 19 years old elsewhere in the country.

If the amount of alcohol you want to import exceeds that amount included in your personal exemption, you will be required to pay the duty and taxes as well as any provincial or territorial levies.


If you've been travelling around and spot a cute houseplant or a bunch of flowers that would look incredible in your place, it might seem like a great idea to pick them up as a souvenir. However, bringing plants into Canada from Europe is not a simple process and there are a few restrictions to watch out for.

While you can travel with plants and flowers within Canada, it's a lot more difficult to bring them back into the country from your travels.

According to the CBSA, things like plants, fruits and vegetables that are imported to could harmful to Canada's ecosystem, so their entry is restricted because they could harbour invasive species, animal diseases or plant pests.

So things you should avoid bringing back includes houseplants, plant cuttings, seeds, bulbs and homemade items that are made from plants or wood. You can use the Canadian Food Inspection Agency's Automated Import Reference System to get an idea of whether it will be allowed.

If you have brought something back and you are unsure on whether it's permitted, you should declare your items and ask a border officer.

Sweets and snacks

The good news is, if you're planning on bringing back any sweet treats or snacks from Europe, you're pretty much all clear to do so.

According to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, as long as the products don't contain meat, you're able to bring them into Canada as long as its below 20 kilograms or 20 litres.

However if you're bringing in dried fruit, nuts, grains or seeds, you'll need to check the agency's Automated Import Reference System to see whether they are allowed.

"Products may be restricted or prohibited from entry into Canada depending on the country of origin," the Canadian Food Inspection Agency said.

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