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My fiancé proposed last week in Arizona (said yes!) and I now have the ring on my finger. The ring has a value of over the $800 personal exemption. Do I need to declare and pay Canadian taxes when returning home to Canada?

There seems to be a lot of anecdotal posts around the internet and I'm unsure of what to do when I return by air.

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    Did your fiancé purchase the ring in Canada, or in the US? Feb 12, 2022 at 15:32
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    Also, congratulations! Feb 12, 2022 at 15:32
  • Ah sorry for leaving that out, my fiancé bought the ring in the US and I'm returning home to Canada. He is American, I am Canadian.
    – rina
    Feb 12, 2022 at 16:26
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    If the ring's on your finger, customs aren't going to know whether you've had it for a week or your entire lifetime
    – Valorum
    Feb 13, 2022 at 0:13
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    @Valorum the question seems to be about the law, not whether it can be enforced. Feb 13, 2022 at 0:42

1 Answer 1

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Canadian law regarding importation of and duty due on articles acquired abroad by persons normally resident in Canada is described on this Canadian government webpage. If the ring was originally acquired by your fiancé in Canada, and your fiancé can so demonstrate upon your return to Canada, no duty will be due.

If the ring was obtained by your fiancé in the US, it is not possible to answer your question without knowing the duration of your stay outside Canada.

Different exempt amounts (and the method for their computation) apply depending upon the duration of your trip outside Canada. The above-cited page presents four duration categories: less than 24 hours outside Canada, 24 hours to 48 hours outside Canada, 48 hours to 7 days outside Canada, and more than 7 days outside Canada. Each duration category has different terms for computation of duty.

No matter the duration, you must declare the ring (and anything else you acquired while out of Canada) to the Canadian Border Services officer when you reenter Canada.

EDIT 2-13-22

In Comments, @mlc has pointed out that the cited Canada customs page also contains this:

Duty

Under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), no duty is payable on goods imported for personal use if the good is marked as made in Canada, the United States of America (USA) or Mexico, or if there is no marking or labelling indicating that it was made somewhere other than in Canada, the USA, or Mexico.

Thus, the original answer is incorrect if the goods imported for personal use are marked as made in Canada, the USA, or Mexico.

However, it is not known how Canada Border Services will choose regarding an item, like a ring, which is likely too small itself to contain a "marked as made" label or engraved text.

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  • Thanks for the reply! My fiancé bought the ring in the US and I'll be returning to Canada with it. I have been away for 2 weeks.
    – rina
    Feb 12, 2022 at 16:28
  • @rina I've amended the answer to reflect this information. Figuring the duty due will require knowing the length of your stay (this trip) outside Canada. Feb 12, 2022 at 17:01
  • If the ring was made in the US or Mexico it will be duty free, but duty isn't the only tax they collect. They also collect sales tax (both the federal GST and, often, provincial PST/HST) with the amount depending on where you live and where you enter the country. When I lived in Ontario the latter was the bulk of what I was charged, usually.
    – user38879
    Feb 13, 2022 at 2:19
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    @mlc Thanks for that additional information. I will delete my comment, and amend the Answer as well. Feb 13, 2022 at 15:36

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