Moving to the United States from Canada is not as straightforward as moving between Canadian provinces. US Border Services (Customs) and Homeland Security are the gatekeepers to anyone wanting to enter the US. This applies not only to your personal entry but to the importation of your household goods and other possessions. As with all government agencies, completing the correct paperwork and abiding with all of the rules and regulations is imperative when moving to the United States from Canada. This is why having a knowledgeable moving company to help guide you through the process is essential. You don’t want to have the moving truck turned back at the border with all of your belongings because your paperwork was not in order.
You may be surprised to learn what types of items are either prohibited or that require special import permits in order to be allowed into the United States. It is important that you understand these restrictions, and not include any items on the prohibited list. For items that require special permits or other forms of permission, obtaining this documentation in advance is pivotal for ensuring that your shipment won’t be held up or turned back at the border.
Here is a list of either prohibited or restricted items, as well as information on items that require special import permits, for people who are moving to the United States from Canada:
- Absinthe, Rohypnol or other illegal drugs
- Meat and meat products (including bouillon cubes)
- Most fruit and vegetables
- Items made in Cuba, Iran, Burma (Myanmar) or Sudan
- Imitation designer items
- Any animal, fish or bird on the endangered species list
- Lottery tickets
Restricted Items or Items Requiring Special Permission
Alcoholic Beverages – Bringing in a large quantity of alcohol can be difficult as each state has its own regulations. These items are not considered part of your household goods and as such are not duty free. These items should not go on the moving van with your furniture, instead you should employ the services of a third party company who specializes in the importation of alcohol.
Motor Vehicles – All motor vehicles newer than 21 years must meet US – EPA fuel emission standards and US Transportation safety regulations. Most vehicles manufactured in countries outside of Canada, USA and Mexico require extensive modifications in order to comply. When moving to the United States from Canada, you must obtain a letter from the automobile manufacturer confirming that your motor vehicle is in compliance or only requires minor labelling modifications. You must submit this letter along with a completed EPA 3520 form and a HS7 form, your original ownership and proof of insurance to your moving company. The driver of the moving truck will present these documents to customs officials at the border. Once your car is delivered to you, you will need to go to the closest US customs location in order to complete the legal importation of your car. If you are driving your own vehicle then you will present this paperwork when you arrive at the border and they will complete the legal importation at that time.
Family Pets – All domestic animals being brought into the US must be in good health. Dogs must have proof of rabies vaccination and a letter from a veterinarian identifying the animal by breed, age and markings stating that the animal is free from disease. Rabies vaccine is not required for cats but a similar letter from a veterinarian is required. There are no regulations for hamsters, guinea pigs, rabbits and ferrets providing they appear to be in good health.
Firearms – You will be required to use a licensed firearms dealer to import your firearms when moving to the United States from Canada. A permit will have to be obtained from the Department of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. It takes a minimum of six weeks to get this permit so allow enough time for the dealer to handle for you.
Items Made From Endangered Species – The US strictly controls the importation of items made from endangered species including ivory from elephant tusks. This may mean that a piano with ivory keys cannot be shipped into the US. One exemption is for items considered antiques which means you must prove it is at least 100 years old.