Moving from Canada to the U.S.

Moving from the Great White North to the Land of Opportunities 

Any long-distance relocation is a big undertaking, and this is especially true when you’re setting up a home in a new country. While immigrating to the U.S. from Canada can be complicated, it doesn’t have to be stressful if you know the right steps to follow to keep the process running smoothly. 

United States flag flying over a blue sky.


Step 1: Make sure you have a valid passport

Since processing times can vary, be sure to request a passport well in advance of your moving date if you don’t already have one. This official identification is needed to get into the U.S. and to get all other travel documents.

Step 2: Apply for a U.S. visa 

Depending on your intentions for moving, you’ll need to apply for an immigrant or nonimmigrant visa. You’ll need the proper authorization in place before your move to be permitted entrance into the U.S.  

Immigrant visa 

Immigrant visa categories allow you to move to the U.S. permanently and gives you the ability to apply for a Social Security number and earn retirement. These types of visas are generally sponsored by families (for spouses or relatives of U.S. citizens) or an employer.  

There are similar forms — the I-130 for relatives or the I-140 for employers — required to start the visa process.  

Nonimmigrant visa 

People who wish to reside in the U.S. for temporary employment or as a student will need a nonimmigrant visa.  

Employers must file a petition (Form I-129) on your behalf, and it must be approved before you can apply for a temporary workers visa

Students and exchange visitors must be accepted by their schools or study program sponsors before applying for a student visa

Step 3: Choose a moving service 

To move your things into the U.S., you can hire full-service movers or opt for a DIY solution. Full-service moves from Canada can be pricey, so some people choose to cross the border in a rental truck. But driving yourself means handling everything, including clearing your belongings through U.S. Customs. 

Often the easiest and cheapest way to move from Canada to the U.S. is with a service like U-Pack®. With U-Pack, you do the packing and loading, then we drive the moving equipment across the border and clear the shipment through U.S. Customs for you (with the proper paperwork in place). This leaves you free to travel to the States however you’d like without having to worry about driving your stuff or breaking your budget. 

Note: U-Pack does not service intra-Canada moves. 

Requirements for moving from Canada with U-Pack 

To complete a successful cross-border move with U-Pack, make sure that: 

  • The name on your Bill of Lading and U-Pack Move Plan match the name on all documentation. 
  • You’ve paid the customs administration fee of $42.50 required for all moves from Canada. 
  • You’re NOT moving any of the following with U-Pack
    • Vehicles. This includes anything with a VIN (boats, trucks, cars, ATVs, jet skis, motorcycles, etc.). If you need to ship a vehicle, contact Mr. Car Shipper® at 877-528-9627.  
    • Items from our Do Not Ship list. This includes commercial goods, illegal, poisonous, flammable, corrosive and perishable items. 


Step 4: Complete customs paperwork 

You must have the proper paperwork to clear your things through U.S. Customs.  

U-Pack requires these documents to clear the shipment on your behalf: 

  • Copy of your passport and visa. Non-U.S. citizens must provide a copy of their visa. Tourist visas are not acceptable. If you won’t get a visa before arriving, email for help. Returning U.S. residents must provide a black and white copy of their passport photo page to prove citizenship. 
  • U.S. Customs Form 3299. Both U.S. citizens and non-U.S. citizens must complete the Declaration for Free Entry of Unaccompanied Articles form 3299
  • Copy of U.S. Customs and Border Protection I-94. Send a copy of your I-94 Form or entry record to the origin service center or (not required for U.S. citizens). 
  • An itemized list of what you’re moving. A list of all belongings you’re moving with their approximate used value in USD$. 

If you’re planning to move belongings yourself in a rental truck, the process can be a bit more time consuming. For questions about to U.S. Customs policies, call 1-877-227-5511 within the U.S., or 202-325-8000 from other countries. 


Is the customs process different if I’m a returning U.S. citizen? 

U.S. citizens who have lived abroad can move back to the United States, but belongings may be subject to duty fees depending on the length of absence and countries visited. Citizens must complete a CBP Declaration Form 6059B to list all purchased items and agricultural products. Learn more about what to expect as a returning U.S. citizen

How do I become a U.S. citizen? 

First, you must be a green card holder for five years (three years if you’re married to a U.S. citizen). Green cards offer permanent status (like immigrant visas) and allow you to work in any occupation while traveling freely in and out of the U.S. With a green card, you’ll have legal rights including insurance, Social Security, retirement and ability to own property. Learn more about applying for a green card

Once you’ve met the green card requirements, you can complete the 10-step naturalization process to become a United States citizen. 

Can I bring my pets with me to the U.S.?

Yes! Check out these tips on moving pets to the U.S. to prepare your animal companion for the journey.

Ready to make the move from Canada? 

If you have questions about relocating to the U.S. with U-Pack, leave us a comment below or call 844-362-5303844-594-3077 to speak to a moving consultant. We're happy to help! 

Need to relocate in the opposite direction? U-Pack can help you move from the U.S. to Canada