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At the Canadian customs checkpoint at Terminal 3 of the Toronto Pearson International Airport, if a traveler needs to pay duty on an item, what payment methods are accepted? Specifically:

  • Will US Dollars (cash) be accepted?
  • Is "deferred payment" an option? (Leave item at airport temporarily, pay duty later to collect it)?

(The CBSA FAQ mentions a "cash" option but no mention of currencies. Also, it makes no mention of a "deferred" option, but I'm guessing this must exist in some form, since some travelers may not have the cash immediately available to pay the required duties. It would be great to get a confirmation of this somewhere though.)

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https://travel.gc.ca/returning/customs/what-you-can-bring-home-to-canada

You can pay by cash, travellers' cheque, Visa, American Express or MasterCard. The CBSA also accepts debit cards at most offices.

Only Canadian dollars are valid currency in Canada. There is no reason to expect customs to expect other money.

Deferred refers to the goods not accompanying you but arriving later.

Edit: as Eugene O brilliantly found at http://www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/publications/dm-md/d17/d17-1-5-eng.html#_a43 actually USD is accepted!

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    After some more digging, it appears that you're wrong on the USD issue. The "I Declare" pamphlet - cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/travel-voyage/declare-eng.html#_s16a - refers to this strange document when it talks about "methods of payment" - cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/publications/dm-md/d17/d17-1-5-eng.html#_a43 - and in that document, US currency seems to be specifically permitted. – Eugene O Oct 19 '16 at 5:09
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    It is actually not that unusual that customs offices accept foreign cash as payment. Especially at land borders, at least the currency of the neighbouring country is likely to be accepted, although probably at a very unfair exchange rate. Depending on the layout of the border crossing, you may not even have a reasonable chance to obtain currency from the land you are travelling to before you have passed customs. – Tor-Einar Jarnbjo Oct 19 '16 at 9:43
  • @Tor-EinarJarnbjo In the case of the CBSA and US dollars, I would not expect the exchange rate to be particularly unfair. Banks charge about 2-3% beyond the interbank rate, so it's probably not quite as good as that (I wouldn't expect them to take a loss). – Spehro Pefhany Oct 19 '16 at 12:27
  • Please see my answer - apparently deferred payment is ok too – Eugene O Oct 19 '16 at 15:14
  • Canada will definitely take US dollars, at a fair exchange rate (the same rate they use to convert US purchases to Canadian dollars for collecting taxes). If change is necessary, however, it will be given in Canadian currency as the Customs office likely won't have adequate change in US currency. VISA, MasterCard and American Express are also accepted. – Jim MacKenzie Oct 8 '17 at 14:06
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I called CBSA at Pearson today to get an authoritative answer - it was surprisingly easy to reach a real person (I reached someone in Terminal 1 but he assured me that the information applies equally to both terminals).

Here's what he told me:

  • They prefer not to accept US dollars, but will accept them if there's no other payment option
  • It is perfectly ok to leave the item at the airport and come back to pay the duty on it later
  • CBSA will take VISA/MC/Amex, so there is rarely a need to leave an item behind, but it's nice to know it's an option. – Jim MacKenzie Oct 8 '17 at 14:06

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