How to Import Alcohol into Canada

Posted by Cory ‣

How to Import Alcohol into Canada

Want to ship that wine or beer back to Canada?

Alcohol in Canada is one of the more difficult items to import since it is regulated heavily by both the federal and provincial governments. While the provincial liquor boards represent monopolies that control and approve all imports of alcohol into their regions, in most cases private imports are allowed. Border Bee has created a calculator specifically for this channel of imports, so you can see in advance how much that bourbon will cost before you ship it back home.

Note: travellers may import without a permit when arriving with alcohol in their luggage or car. The below requirements are for unaccompanied alcohol shipped to Canada.

Here are some general requirements:

  • No more than 45 L of beer, wine or alcohol can be imported per shipment
  • You can only import into your province of residence and must be of legal drinking age in your province
  • Authorization must be obtained from your provincial liquor board before customs release
    • although the goods can be shipped beforehand, we recommend contacting a broker to ensure the alcohol in question can be imported
  • Most provinces permit businesses and individuals to import as long as the goods are not re-sold (incl. at an event)
  • Each provinces has a mark up and requires specific details to approve your importation. In addition to the mark up, federal customs and excise taxes will apply (at a much lower rate than the mark up).
    • be sure to know the following details before shipping:
      • the year
      • the country of origin
      • the manufacturer
      • the alcohol content
      • the brand
    • you will also need proof of payment (we strongly recommend not paying in cash)
  • as an alternative to shipping your alcohol, you can also order directly through your liquor board, who will handle the shipping and clearance for you

Quebec/SAQ:

Quebec is the most advanced when it comes to private imports of alcohol, as they have even developed an online permit issuing system. Calculate your cost here.

Ontario/LCBO:

Ontario also allows imports of alcohol for private end uses. Before shipping, you will need to consign the shipment to the “LCBO c/o ” + “your name, address and contact.” Find out your cost here.

British Columbia/BCL:

The BCL is reviewing their current system, but as of 2016 both consumers and businesses can import into the province. The shipment must be consigned to “BC Liquor Distribution Branch C/O” + “your name, address and contact.” On arrival, you will need to contact the LCDB or hire a broker to obtain the release of your shipment before the courier can deliver it. Find out your cost here.

Alberta/AGLC:

In Alberta, individuals should contact the AGLC directly to import their purchases. Their customs team will release your shipment once your mark up invoice has been paid.

Border Bee has contacted the remaining Canadian provinces and is awaiting confirmation of their particular mark ups and requirements.

Got some mescal stuck in Customs? Need a quote to ship a crate of wine? info@borderbee.com

Manitoba/MBLL:

Imports of alcohol are permitted but must be made directly through the liquor board, who will clear and bill the order for you. Importers should contact the MBLL directly to ensure their shipments can be imported and cleared: 204-957-2500 ext. 5538