Whats req'd to take a kayak into Canada

We’re planning a trip to Gwaii Hanaas, BC, next summer and I’m wondering what the requirements are for crossing the US Canadian border with kayaks.

We’ll likely be transporting two kayaks, one belongs to the driver/vehicle owner. The other boats owner will be flying up. I’m assuming we’ll need the statement of origin for each boat, but I didn’t know if any additional documentation will be required, especially for the unaccompanied boat.

I plan to speak to the outfitter next week too. No luck with a web search so I thought I’d ask for advise and experience here too.



We have taken kayaks into Canada lots of times and never had a problem.


– Last Updated: Feb-02-13 3:20 PM EST –

Living in Detroit,MI - I've crossed into Ontario
numerous times with a kayak on my car.
Never been a problem with customs officials.
No paperwork, no bill of sale, no receipts.

Canadian Coast Guard might want some "items"
on your boat when you are paddling in their waters.
Check with local office for location you are going.
They might want VHF radio, flares, lights, tow rope,
waterproof box for passport, identification paperwork, etc.

I’ve never been questioned about my boat. They will ask you about guns and food. They will be about 100 times more polite and friendlier than the a-holes that work the US side of the border…don’t forget your passport

Same here
When we went to Aklaska we passed through Canada going and coming back and we were never questioned with two sea kayaks on the roof

Jack L

No worries.
Never had a single question asked. They did want to see firearms and I recall we had to have some forms filled out for that but it was quick.

My passport was out of date, but they
only commented that I should get it updated soon. Boats no problem.

Thanks All!
This is shping up to be yet another trip of a lifetime!!



I heard that
sea kayaks are no problem, but if you take a good canoe into Canada they will not let it leave the country :slight_smile:


You could avoid possible trouble by getting a statment going in that you brought the boat with you. Sometimes they suspect you bought the boat in Canada and want to be sure you payed all the huge taxes! This is more likely to happen if the boat is new looking.


Not quite
If you buy a kayak in Canada it’s only US customs you have to deal with, if you decide to declare it, and then you may be liable for duty. When you leave Canada, you have nothing to do with Canadian customs unless you want to stop and fill out a form to be reimbursed for sales (HST) tax you paid when you bought the boat.

A bit off the OP topic, but perhaps helpful to some others.

Have a great trip.

Randy you should have authorization
with the HIN indicated signed by the owner along with a phone number.

Otherwise Douanes Canada is going to look at your extra boat with a jaundiced eye as to whether it is for sale. The worst case is that they will assume it is and want to collect tax due the Province.

I cross to Canada probably six times a year with boats. And have each year since 1963. Any time there is a mismatch in number of boat seats with the number in the car there is apt to be questions.

Last time I brought a boat in for sale I was introduced to the possibility of jail as I did not have the bill of full sale nor a document authorizing me to have the the boat. I declared the boat at half the price the buyer paid. And anything less than half the price could buy one a visit to a barred motel room. Canada Douanes (customs) gave me a warning for a lack of an authorization letter.

Most crossings are routine…two people one boat…or one boat one person and get no notice, but with enough crossings one eventually gets different experiences.

Rare issue but it happens

– Last Updated: Feb-04-13 8:35 PM EST –

Ask customs agent to actually type a computer note
into the system to document what you brought in;
- then it can be compared to what you brought home.

Customs "can" be picky as hell, usually they aren't.
I went once on extended trip, very very heavily loaded,
multiple toolboxes, food, etc. and got the n'th degree.
Live and learn.

Carrying a bill-of-sale showing ownership is a good idea.
Any issue of whats-it-worth gets nipped in the butt

required gear


Thanks again to all!
Angstrom the links were helpful and easy to understand. The outfitter had mentioned having a tow belt or throw bag too.



HA !
not one post from a canuk !


or just go to transport canada for the regs . Simpl carry a signaling device-white light visible for a mile , yer whistle, a bailer or bilge pump , 15 meters or more of buoyant line , and 6 flares if the yak is over 8 meters other than smoke .

I cross over every spring , back in sept. Have never had a problem w/yaks , just the van ,lol . 9 out of 10 times hasseled coming back into the states , nothing paddling related , I’m native looking w/hair down in braids so they assume I’m smuggling cigs and dope . But I don’t get hasseled goin into can. just guilty by the way I look in amerikkka .

They’ve stopped hasseling americans without a vhf operators license . All my boats are beat up , but if they weren’t I’d make sure I had some kind of documentation stating they’re owned in the states , your insurance co. might do that for ya .

This is ONE of the reasons I stopped going to Canada to canoe. US costoms comming back is worse than Canadian going in.


Same here
The last time I crossed back in upper Michigan, the border guys gave me the third degree. I’m an older white guy, there’s a beat up kayak on the roof of my car and the guard asks me what I was doing in Canada :).

He spent around 20 minutes or more grilling me about my activities and it seemed to me that he was baiting me. Didn’t go for it and I eventually drove off.