Moving from Canada to the U.S.

How to immigrate to the U.S.A. from Canada 

Moving to a new country can be a big change, even if the countries happen to share a border like the United States and Canada. From customs paperwork to finding a new home, there are many things you need to do to get the ball rolling. Let’s get started!  

United States flag flying over a blue sky.


Steps for Canadians moving to the U.S. 

Moving to another country is a big adventure, and it also takes a lot of preparation. Knowing the steps to follow will help the process run smoothly.  

Step 1: Make sure you have a valid Canadian passport 

Canadian citizens must have a valid passport to enter the U.S. Make sure to request it in advance if you don’t already have one since processing times can vary. 

Step 2: Apply for a U.S. visa  

Depending on why you're moving, you’ll need either an immigrant or nonimmigrant visa. 

Immigrant visa  

Immigrant visas allow you to move to the U.S. permanently, 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.   

Forms I-130 for relatives or I-140 for employers are required to start the visa process.  

Nonimmigrant visa  

You’ll need a nonimmigrant visa if you’re moving for school or a temporary job. 

Step 3: Choose a cross-border moving service  

Most people choose between full-service movers or DIY solutions when moving things to the U.S. Full-service moves from Canada can get pricey, so DIY moves are common. 

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 worrying about crossing the border in a rental truck or breaking your budget.  

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

Requirements for moving from Canada with U-Pack  

For a successful cross-border move with U-Pack, make sure the name matches on your Bill of Lading, U-Pack Move Plan, and all other documentation.  You’ll also need to pay the customs administration fee of $42.50 required for all moves from Canada.  

U-Pack can’t ship anything with a VIN (boats, trucks, cars, ATVs, jet skis, motorcycles, etc.) from Canada. If you need to ship a vehicle, contact Mr. Car Shipper® at 877-528-9627.   

Make sure to review U-Pack’s Do Not Ship list before loading the moving equipment. 

Step 4: Complete U.S. customs paperwork  

U-Pack requires these documents to clear your things through U.S. Customs 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. 

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 in a rental truck, the process can be a bit more time consuming since you’ll have to handle the customs paperwork on your own. For questions about U.S. Customs policies, call 1-877-227-5511 within the U.S., or 202-325-8000 from other countries.  

FAQs about relocating to the United States from Canada 

Is the customs process different for a returning U.S. citizen?  

U.S. citizens who have lived abroad can return 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 can I find a place to live in the U.S.? 

Working with a licensed real estate agent or rental broker is a good place to start. Look online or ask for recommendations from family, friends or your employer.  

Need temporary lodging? Check out our guide to finding short-term housing

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

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

U-Pack is ready to help you move from Canada 

If you have questions about relocating to the U.S. with U-Pack, leave us a comment below. You can get a free online quote 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 also help you move from the U.S. to Canada!