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Overview of Import Procedures

Canada

Last updated on 21 Jan 2020


Contents

Changes

Focus: aluminium products, classification of goods, revised documents, foodstuffs, goods containing animal products, Carnet A.T.A. and model certificates.

The import documentation for Canada has been reviewed and amended accordingly. The following changes have been made:

Aluminium Products

As aluminium products have recently been added to the list of goods subject to Import Control, the document entitled General Import Permit for Aluminium Products has been newly incorporated into this report. For more information, the quoted document and chapter in this overview may be viewed.

Classification of Goods

As of 12 December 2019, import reporting requirements have been added for the following new products: designated centrifugal and other pumps as well as heat-exchange units. Consequently, the classification of goods, i.e. the assignment of commodity codes, pertaining to the document entitled Energy Efficiency Report, which is required by Natural Resources Canada (NRCan), has been adjusted.

Revised Documents

Following the revision of the documents of this report in accordance with the currently valid legislation, the following documents have been modified with regard to various details, e.g. the required minimum content or the official form:

  • Advance Commercial Information

  • Customs Import Declaration

  • Import Permit for Designated Plants and Plant Products

  • Manifest

  • Registration as EDI Client.

Please refer to the quoted documents and to the section on Advance Commercial Information (ACI) below for additional information.

Foodstuffs

The document entitled Import Licence for Foodstuffs has been furnished with a list of the food commodities which may only be imported with a valid licence since 15 January 2020. For all other foods, the import licence will be required as of 15 July 2020. For further details, please turn to the quoted document.

Goods Containing Animal Products

On 1 November 2019, amended guidelines for the importation of goods of animal origin containing multiple ingredients came into effect. Ingredient percentages are no longer used to determine import conditions. Instead, the focus is on disease risk. Therefore, the import requirements have changed and, in some cases, become more stringent. A transitional period of one year has been granted, during which any issued Permit to Import Animals and Animal Products must be renewed. The mentioned document and the paragraph on Animals and Products of Animal Origin in this overview may be viewed for particulars.

Carnet A.T.A.

The document entitled Carnet A.T.A. has been reviewed and equipped with information on further conventions in the framework of which the carnet may be used.

Model Certificates

The model form displayed in the document entitled Free Sale Certificate has been replaced by an updated version; please turn thereto for additional details.

General Information

  • Conventional long form of country name: Canada

  • ISO Country Code: CA

  • Population: 35.88 million (July 2018 est.)

  • Area: 9,984,670 sq km

  • Population density: 4 inhabitants per sq km

  • Capital: Ottawa

  • Major ports: Fraser River Port, Halifax, Hamilton, Montreal, Port-Cartier, Quebec City, Saint John, Sept-Isles, Port-Cartier, Vancouver

  • Customs airports: Bagotville (YBG), Baie Comeau (YBC), Calgary (YYC), Charlottetown (YYG), Comox (YQQ), Edmonton (YEA), Fredericton (YFC), Frobisher (YFB), Gander (YQX), Goose Bay (YYR), Halifax (YHZ), Hamilton (YHM), Iles-de-la-Madeleine (YGR), Inuvik (YEV), Kamloops (YKA), Kelowna (YLW), London (YXU), Moncton (YQM), Montreal (YMQ), Nanaimo (YCD), Ottawa (YOW), Penticton (YYF), Port Alberni (YPB), Prince Albert (YPA), Prince George (YXS), Prince Rupert (YPR), Quebec (YQB), Regina (YQR), Rimouski (YXK), Saint John (YSJ) Sarnia (YZR), St. Catharines (YCM), St. John (YSJ), St. John's (YYT), Saskatoon (YXE), Sault Ste. Marie (YAM), Sept Iles (YZV), Stephenville (YJT), Sudbury (YSB), Sydney (YQY), Thunder Bay (YQT), Timmins (YTS), Toronto (YTO), Vancouver (YVR), Victoria (YYJ), Whitehorse (YXY), Windsor (YQG), Winnipeg (YWG), Yarmouth (YQI), Yellowknife (YZF), Yorktown (YQV)

  • Business languages: English, French

  • Currency: 1 Canadian Dollar = 100 Cents

  • ISO Currency Code: CAD

Note

The tariff codes correspond to the current Canadian customs tariff based on the Harmonized System (HS) 2017; Canada applies the HS on the basis of the HS Convention (for further general information on the Harmonized System, please turn to the section thereon below).

Advance Rulings

In case of doubt as regards the correct classification of merchandise with the Canadian tariff number, an Advance Ruling may be applied for at the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA). The advance ruling number subsequently issued by the CBSA may be stated on the related commercial documents. Please turn to the quoted document for more details.

International Agreements

Canada is a member of the following treaties and has signed the agreements below:

  • Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC)

  • Convention on the International Transport of Goods under cover of TIR Carnets (TIR Convention), this procedure is currently not applicable

  • Customs Convention on the Temporary Admission of Goods (A.T.A. Convention), please refer to the document Carnet A.T.A. for further details

  • International Convention on the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System (HS Convention)

  • International Convention on the Simplification and Harmonization of Customs Procedures (as amended) (Revised Kyoto Convention)

  • North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)

  • Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)

  • World Customs Organization (WCO)

  • World Trade Organization (WTO).

Preferential Treatment

The Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between the European Union (EU) and Canada is being provisionally applied since 21 September 2017. Moreover, Canada has concluded a multilateral free trade agreement (FTA) with Mexico and the United States (US), i.e. the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which is foreseen to be renamed as the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). The Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) agreement entered into force for the ratifying parties, i.e. Canada, Australia, Japan, Mexico, Singapore and New Zealand, on 30 December 2018 and for Vietnam on 14 January 2019. The remaining countries, i.e. Brunei Darussalam, Chile, Malaysia and Peru, are yet to ratify this trade deal, which will enter into force 60 days after they ratify it.

Further bilateral FTAs are in effect with the European Free Trade Association (EFTA, comprising Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland), Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Honduras, Israel, Jordan, Panama, Peru, South Korea and Ukraine.

Furthermore, preferential rates exist for goods originating in the Caribbean Commonwealth countries as well as in developing or least developed countries.

Goods which are originating products in the sense of the agreements or arrangements above may benefit from preferential treatment in Canada.

Export Controls

Besides the stipulations of the country of importation, export control provisions may have to be observed in international movements of goods and services. The subject of such provisions may be particular commodities, countries of (final) destination and legal or natural persons involved in the respective transactions. These persons may comprise, but are not limited to, the following legal entities or individuals:

  • exporters and consignors

  • importers and consignees

  • end users

  • freight forwarders and their agents

  • banks and financial institutions.

The listed entities may include governmental agencies in the country of (final) destination, too.

Countries may even partially or completely interdict external trade with another country. However, goods may also be exempt from such embargoes if exported for humanitarian or special reasons.

In general, the following types of merchandise (as well as related services and maintenance) are regulated in the framework of export control laws:

  • arms and ammunition

  • military equipment

  • designated explosive substances

  • strategic goods (e.g. encryption technology for communications equipment)

  • dual-use goods, i.e. commodities which may be used for military and civil purposes alike (including software and technologies)

  • goods which could be used for torture, capital punishment or similarly inhuman treatment.

In principle, the competent authorities of the exporting country regulate the scope of goods to be controlled upon their exportation and in respect of the parties and countries involved in the transactions. Following the examination of the relevant documentation, export authorisations may be issued. The export control authorities may also require documents from the respective bodies in the country of destination in order to control the goods and monitor their delivery chains. Such documents may comprise, e.g., international import certificates, end-user certificates or delivery verification certificates.

In addition, specific import requirements may apply to the abovementioned goods as well. Further information as regards control measures applicable in Canada may also be viewed in the sections on Sanctions, Firearms and Explosives and Nuclear and Radioactive Materials below.

As regards controls of dual-use goods in the framework of the European Union (EU), the basic legal stipulation is Council Regulation (EC) No 428/2009 of 5 May 2009, setting up a Community regime for the control of exports, transfer, brokering and transit of dual-use items. The responsibility for the execution of the so-called Dual-Use Regulation lies, however, with the competent authorities of each individual Member State.

Exporters should be aware of the fact that they may be held legally responsible for respective foreign trade transactions, comprising all different aspects of transboundary movements of goods and services. This individual responsibility is usually not transferable to other persons. Advice should be sought from the competent authority in the exporting country.

Sanctions

Canada has enforced specific economic sanctions prohibiting trade and other economic activities and restricting financial transactions, e.g. foreign investments or acquisitions, against designated countries, non-state actors, e.g. terrorist organisations, as well as designated individuals from a target country contained on the Consolidated Canadian Autonomous Sanctions List. Canadian sanctions are classified into the following types of measures: arms embargo, asset freze, export/import restrictions, financial prohibitions and technical assistance. These are imposed under the United Nations Act (UNA), the Special Economic Measures Act (SEMA) and the Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act (JVCFOA), respectively.

The import restrictions prohibit the importation of specific goods from targeted countries. Such sanctions currently apply to goods from Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia and Syria. An arms embargo prohibits the importation of weapons, military equipment and related materials from a targeted country and from terrorist entities under the United Nations Al-Qaida and Taliban Regulations.

On an exceptional basis, import permits may be granted by the Minister of Foreign Affairs under the Export and Import Permits Act (EIPA) in order to carry out an activity that would otherwise contravene Canadian sanctions.

For further information, the competent authority may be contacted as follows: Global Affairs Canada, Sanctions Policy and Operations Coordination Division, 125 Sussex Drive, CA-Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 0G2, phone numbers: +1 613 9444000, fax number: +1 613 9959085.

Registration

All local and foreign companies must be registered with the Canada Revenue Agency in order to obtain a Canadian Business Number (BN). The registration may be applied for at any Canadian tax services office. Thus, non-resident importers who have obtained a BN may act as "importers of record".

Please see the document Business Number for details.

Entities in possession of a BN may also open one of the following accounts with the Canada Revenue Agency:

  • GST/HST program account

  • payroll deductions program account

  • import-export program account

  • corporation income tax program account.

Advance Commercial Information (ACI)

The Advance Commercial Information (ACI) programme requires importers to submit electronic pre-arrival cargo information to the Canadian customs authorities. Please see the document entitled Advance Commercial Information for details of the required information and time schedules.

In addition, further documentation is to be provided, depending on the means of transport, e.g. the following:

  • General Declaration for Aircraft

  • General Declaration for Vessels

  • Pre-Arrival Notice for Vessels

  • Manifest.

Please see the quoted documents for details.

Under certain circumstances, the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) may require a re-manifest for cargo to be entered into the country, e.g. if the destination is to be changed from the one indicated on the original Manifest, if the liability for duties and taxes is to be transferred to another bonded carrier or if the shipment is to be split into two or more for furtherance. However, the authorities may also allow the movement of cargo on the original Manifest without a re-manifest, e.g. for unreleased air cargo to be moved from the first point of arrival to a destination primary warehouse that is licensed to receive the air shipments indicated on said document without a re-manifest.

Electronic Customs Release Systems

The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) has implemented various systems for electronic data interchange (EDI), which enable importers and brokers to submit and retain release and invoice data electronically. With the Accelerated Commercial Release Operations Support System (ACROSS), for example, depending on whether the reporting is made prior to or after the arrival of the shipment, the customs officials will make a release recommendation or a release decision and inform the declarant via EDI. Other EDI systems for release initiatives are the Customs Self Assessment (CSA), which enables the client to use his own system to assess and meet customs obligations, the Release Notification System (RNS) for receiving release decisions electronically, and the release on full documentation (RFD) (on this, please see also the section on Customs Release Options below). For the electronic submission of accounting documents, the Customs Automated Data Exchange (CADEX) is the appropriate system; for entry initiatives, it is CUSDEC (Customs Declaration).

The Integrated Import Declaration (IID) has recently been developed to enable the electronic submission of other government departments (OGDs) information of Participating Government Departments and Agencies (PGA), e.g. certificates, permits, licences, etc., simultaneously with the Customs Import Declaration within the Single Window Initiative (SWI). In this regard, the former Pre-Arrival Review System (PARS) and release on minimum documentation (RMD) OGD service options are currently being decommissioned and replaced by the IID.

In order to participate in any one of these systems, a Registration as EDI Client is required. For further information, please refer to the quoted documents.

Customs Release Options

Importers may chose between the following options in order to obtain customs release for their shipments:

  • release with full accounting and payment

  • G7 release on full documentation (RFD)

  • Integrated Import Declaration (IID).

Importers using the RFD option may defer the payment of customs duties and taxes to a later point of time, mostly on a monthly basis. Importers should note that the RFD is a G7 initiative but not restricted to shipments from G7 countries. Please contact the local customs office for further details.

So-called low value shipments (LVSs), i.e. consignments of a value of less than 2,500 CAD, are granted facilitated customs release procedures, e.g. as regards the accepted form of the invoice to be presented.

Partners in Protection (PIP)

The CBSA has implemented the Partners in Protection (PIP) programme to strengthen border security with regard to trade chains, the fight against terrorism and smuggling. The participation in PIP is voluntary and includes the adherence to security standards, while it offers its members, as trusted traders, various benefits and incentives.

As the PIP programme is aligned to the international standards as set out in the Framework of Standards to Secure and Facilitate Global Trade (SAFE) of the World Customs Organization (WCO), Canada has entered into mutual recognition agreements (MRAs) with various countries with regard to their respective authorised economic operator (AEO) programmes, e.g. with Australia, Hong Kong, Israel, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea and the United States.

In case of the trade between Canada and the United States, PIP members may also benefit from the so-called Free and Secure Trade (FAST) programme, which accelerates the commercial clearance for trade across the United States (US)-Canada border.

Customs Value

The customs value of imported goods is the transaction value, which is the price paid or payable for the goods when imported into the customs territory of Canada. It is usually calculated on the basis of the FOB value. If the customs value cannot be determined on the basis of the transaction value of the imported goods, the following values are, in compliance with the rules on determining the customs value according to the Agreement on Implementation of Article VII (Customs Valuation) of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) 1994, which Canada accepted, to be applied successively as a basis for its calculation:

  • the transaction value of identical imported goods

  • the transaction value of similar imported goods

  • the deductive value

  • the computed value

  • the value deduced by way of an appropriate residual method.

Import Control

Items included in the Import Control List (ICL) are monitored by the Trade Controls Bureau (TID) of the Global Affairs Canada. According to the ICL, an import permit is required for various items for personal use (mainly agricultural products and specimen of personal or household effects) but also for a number of commercial goods. As a prerequisite for obtaining an import permit, an EIPA File Number is to be applied for once. Please refer to the following documents for details:

  • EIPA File Number

  • General Import Permit for Aluminium Products

  • General Import Permit for Carbon Steel

  • General Import Permit for Specialty Steel Products

  • General Import Permit for Arms

  • General Import Permit for CWC Toxic Chemicals and Precursors

  • General Import Permit for Designated Commercial Agricultural Goods

  • General Import Permit for Wheat, Barley and Their Products.

Some of the concerned products, i.e. mainly agricultural goods, are subject to a system of tariff rate quotas (TRQs). The system provides for the importation at so-called "within access commitment", i.e. reduced, rates of duty up to a particular limit. The issue of import allocations is required for this. Otherwise, the commodities are imported at "over access commitment" rates of duty.

Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Measures and General Importability of Goods Subject Thereto

Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) measures may be applied within the territory of a country to protect the life and health of its population, fauna and flora from one or more of the following risks:

  • diseases carried by animals

  • plant pests (e.g. insects, bacteria, viruses)

  • toxins or disease-causing organisms in foods, beverages or feedstuffs

  • additives

  • contaminants (e.g. heavy metals, residues of pesticides or veterinary drugs, extraneous matter).

SPS measures may be included in the relevant laws, decrees, regulations, requirements and procedures of a country or an economic community.

The Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures of the World Trade Organization (WTO), also referred to as SPS Agreement, sets out the rules that the WTO member states are obliged to follow when they implement SPS measures governing food and feed safety, animal health and plant health. Said Agreement applies to all SPS measures which may, directly or indirectly, affect international trade. Every WTO member has the right to take respective measures to pursue the abovementioned protection goals. Under the WTO rules, countries are allowed to set their own standards, but their regulations are required to be based on scientific evidence and international standards, i.e. the imposed measures must be transparent and comprehensible. WTO members are to notify the content of a proposed sanitary or phytosanitary regulation, whether new or not substantially the same as the content of an international standard, guideline or recommendation, and the covered products to the WTO in advance.

International organisations working towards an international harmonisation of SPS measures include the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE, former Office International des Epizooties, for animal health), the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC, for plant health) and the Codex Alimentarius Commission (a joint Commission of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO), for food safety). In addition, the SPS Agreement offers technical assistance to developing countries with regard to capacity building and programmes concerning food safety, animal and plant health.

SPS measures must be in proportion to the potential risk involved and must be equally applied to national and imported goods. These measures may take various forms, such as requiring products to come from disease-free areas, specific treatment or processing of products, prescribing an inspection of products, quarantine regulations, setting the allowable maximum levels for pesticide residues, or permitting the use of only certain additives in food.

For any merchandise potentially bearing SPS risks, comprehensive risk assessment measures usually apply in order to ascertain whether the good is importable or not. This holds true in particular for animal or plant species or products which have previously not been traded between two countries. In the course of establishing the health standards to be met for a certain good, specific conditions under which the particular item will be importable are usually defined, e.g. the mandatory fumigation treatment of designated plant produce or the vaccination of particular animal species against their characteristic diseases. Such terms are then reflected in the respective health certificate (i.e. those certificates mentioned in the chapters on animals, plants and products thereof in this overview).

Animals and Products of Animal Origin

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) issues import permits for live animals, animal embryos, animal products and by-products, animal semen, pathogens, and hatching eggs. Shipments containing such goods must be accompanied by a veterinary health certificate issued in the country of export and proving that they do not carry any infectious diseases. If the information on the provided certificate is insufficient, various types of additional certificates may be required for specific animals or animal products. Since 1 November 2019, amended guidelines for the importation of goods of animal origin containing multiple ingredients, e.g. animal feed, fertilisers, food with milk or egg ingredients, vitamin and mineral supplements as well as commodities containing products of a rendering plant or other animal-origin ingredients, regulate that ingredient percentages are no longer used to determine import conditions. Instead, the focus is on disease risk. If any single animal-origin ingredient in a commodity is prohibited from entering Canada, the entire commodity is now prohibited from entering the country. If an import permit is required for one or more ingredients, the entire commodity requires said import permit. The same applies for the health (i.e. zoosanitary) certificate. It is furthermore noteworthy that an evaluation of commodities to be imported for the first time or imported from a new country of origin may be made mandatory.

Animals of pure-bred breeding descent must be accompanied by a corresponding certificate issued by the responsible breeders' association in the country of origin.

In addition, approved tags must be applied to the imported animal, either before importation or upon arrival at the initial destination. Information thereon is to be reported to the CFIA.

Fish, fish products and seafood intended for human consumption are subject to an Import Licence for Foodstuffs, as indicated in the corresponding section on Foodstuffs below. Moreover, importers of fish and fish products must notify the CFIA of the actual importation. Market access will only be granted if the products have undergone an inspection procedure proving compliance with the Canadian health and labelling requirements. In the specific case of live aquatic animals (i.e. finfish, mollusc, crustacean or their germplasm) and offal thereof which is to be used in the feeding industry, an import permit must additionally be obtained from the CFIA.

In addition, certain agricultural goods of animal origin require an import declaration giving specifications of the shipment. For details, please see the following documents:

According to a memorandum of understanding between the CFIA and the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), the latter is responsible for the initial import inspection services for food, plants, animals and related products at Canadian border points. Before release from the point of entry in Canada, such commodities which come under the authority of the CFIA require a release recommendation first. Please refer to the document Request for Documentation Review.

The CFIA enables the processing of the release information even before the arrival of the goods in Canada via the Integrated Import Declaration (IID) service option within the Single Window Initiative (SWI), for which a prior Registration as EDI Client is required. Moreover, the Frequent Import Release System (FIRST) provides for a facilitated release for frequent importers of low risk shipments.

The establishment of the Canadian buyer of agricultural products must moreover be registered with the CFIA.

Please note also that specific temporary protective measures may be imposed on the import of animals or products of animal origin, e.g. as a consequence of the outbreak of contagious diseases.

With regard to issues concerning Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Measures, amongst others (please also refer to the same-named section above), the authority responsible for veterinary controls of live animals and animal products in Canada may be contacted as follows: Ministry of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), 1400 Merivale Road, CA-Ottawa, Ontario, K1A0Y9, phone number: +1 613 7732342.

Any new organisms, either micro-organisms (e.g. bacteria or fungi) or other (e.g. genetically modified animals), are subject to the stipulations for new substances as depicted in the section on Chemical Substances and Hazardous Goods below. Please turn there for details.

Pest Risk Analysis (PRA)

Canada applies pest risk analysis (PRA). On the national level, PRA is regulated by the Plant Protection Act and the Plant Protection Regulations. The International Standard for Phytosanitary Measures (ISPM) No. 2 setting the Framework for Pest Risk Analysis agreed upon in the scope of the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) provides the framework for PRA which has been accepted by the signatory countries.

A PRA is to be conducted on plants, plant products or other regulated articles by the National Plant Protection Organization (NPPO), i.e. the Plant Health and Risk Assessment Unit of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), if the risk associated with their importation is unknown. This is usually the case if goods are imported to the country for the first time or if they are imported from a new area of origin. A PRA may also be required in further cases, e.g. if the goods are to be imported for a new intended use or if the phytosanitary legislation of the country of export has undergone changes. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) publishes a List of Not Authorized Pending Pest Risk Analysis (NAPPRA) Plant Material which, depending on the origin of the plant material, requires a PRA prior to importation to determine whether it is admissible in Canada. Plant products and new origins are considered NAPPRAs until the first authorisation of the importation into Canada. Moreover, the revision of an already existing PRA may be required, e.g. if a change in susceptibility of a plant to a pest or a change in the virulence or aggressiveness or host range of a pest has been identified. Depending on the outcome of the PRA, the NPPO develops and stipulates the specific phytosanitary requirements for the importation of the product in question as risk management measures.

In general, the PRAs are conducted following a process of mutual data exchange between the NPPOs in the countries of origin and destination. A stakeholder, e.g. plant exporter, importer or trader, would thus need to approach his NPPO to initiate a PRA. Usually, the PRA is to be applied for by the national stakeholder at the Canadian NPPO. The following minimum information is to be provided in the application:

  • scientific name of the product

  • description of the product (e.g. with or without roots, with or without soil, with or without growing media, fresh/dried/processed)

  • origin of the product

  • intended use of the product (e.g. propagation, consumption).

The NPPO may request further information from the NPPO in the country of export for the purpose of conducting the PRA. Information may also be gathered from other sources such as scientific literature, scientific experts or knowledgable industry stakeholders. The duration of the PRA varies, depending on the assigned priority level, existing information, the cooperation of the exporting NPPO, amongst other factors. Therefore, the PRA is usually a multi-year process. The related fees are to be paid by the importer.

Information on completed PRAs is available from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA). Risk Management Documents (RMDs), which include summaries on PRAs and decisions regarding the regulatory status of a plant or pest, are provided on the CFIA website. Information on pests which are inspected by the authority may also be found in the Pest Fact Sheets which are published by the Plant Health and Risk Assessment Unit as well as in the List of Pests Regulated by Canada and the corresponding Directives. Finally, PRA results are used to provide information on the specific requirements to import goods in the Automated Import Reference System (AIRS), which may be consulted online under the following website: http://airs-sari.inspection.gc.ca/airs_external/english/decisions-eng.aspx. A list of plant varieties which are currently still considered NAPPRAs, i.e. the importation of which remains prohibited until a PRA is completed and it is determined that the variety is admissible, may be consulted in the List of Not Authorized Pending Pest Risk Analysis (NAPPRA) Plant Material.

The authority responsible for PRAs in Canada may be contacted as follows: Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), Plant Health and Risk Assessment Unit, 59 Camelot Drive, CA-Ottawa, Ontario, K1A0Y9, phone number: +1 613 7737270, fax number: +1 613 7737204.

Plants and Plant Products

Importers of plants and plant products must obtain an import permit from the Plant Biosecurity and Forestry Division of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and present a phytosanitary health certificate issued in the country of export.

For wood and certain wood products, a certificate proving fumigation treatment in accordance with the Canadian quarantine requirements must be presented to the customs officials. This certificate is not required for wood packaging material (WPM) but may be used in lieu of the required treatment mark (please refer also to the section on Wood Packaging below).

The authority responsible for phytosanitary control in Canada may be contacted as follows, inter alia concerning issues of Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Measures (please also turn to the same-named section above): Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), Plant Biosecurity and Forestry Division, 59 Camelot Drive, CA-Ottawa, Ontario, K1A0Y9, phone number: +1 613 7737270, fax number: +1 613 7737204.

Certain agricultural goods require an import declaration containing specifications of the shipment. Forms may be obtained from any CFIA office. Moreover, fresh fruits and vegetables may only be imported with an import licence issued by the CFIA. For some of these goods, an inspection at the customs office of entry is mandatory. Please see the following documents for details:

  • Certificate of Fumigation

  • Certificate of Inspection of Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

  • Import Declaration for Certain Agricultural Commodities

  • Import Licence for Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

  • Import Permit for Designated Plants and Plant Products

  • Phytosanitary Certificate.

For information on the requirement of a Pest Risk Analysis (PRA), please see the quoted section above.

Seeds imported for sale must be registered with the Variety Registration Office of the CFIA; for information on the registration process, please refer to the document Variety Registration of Seeds. Canada is moreover a member of the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV) and has thus adopted the International Convention for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants, which aims at the recognition of the rights of plant breeders on an international basis. In accordance with the corresponding national Plant Breeders' Rights Act and the pertinent regulations, breeders of new varieties may apply for the granting of plant breeder's rights. Holders of plant breeder's rights have the exclusive right to produce or reproduce, condition, sell, import or export, and to stock propagating material of the variety in question. In addition, the holder has the power to authorise other persons to conduct any of the stated operations. Varieties must be new, clearly distinguishable from other varieties, stable and sufficiently homogeneous in order to be eligible. The denomination of the variety must also be approved. Plant breeder's rights are granted for a period of 25 years in the case of trees and vines and 20 years for all other varieties. The authority responsible for issuing plant breeders' rights is the Plant Breeders' Rights Office under the CFIA.

In general, a person intending to import seeds must hand in an Import Declaration for Certain Agricultural Commodities to the CFIA. In this declaration, he must specify his purpose of importation, which may be either research, own use, sale/resale, or conditioning. Furthermore, an ISTA Orange Certificate or another acceptable certificate of analysis is also required.

Establishments that have been recognised as authorised importers (AI) may import seeds on minimum documentation (for further details, see the document Certificate of Registration as an Authorised Importer of Seeds).

For information on the prohibition to import weed seeds, please turn to the section on Prohibited Imports.

As regards the mandated Request for Documentation Review from the CFIA for certain products, please refer to the quoted document and to the section on Animals and Products of Animal Origin above.

Exporters of agricultural products should note that the establishment of the Canadian buyer must be registered with the CFIA.

Please be aware that goods arriving in Canada must be clean and free from any soil. Goods contaminated with soil may be cleaned in CBSA-controlled areas after arriving in Canada at the importer's expense; certain conditions must be met for this, e.g. there must not be a risk of soil dislodgement during transport and operational capacity must exist. If the goods cannot be cleaned because the prescribed conditions may not be met, entry of the goods is refused.

For details of the requirements to import genetically modified plant varieties, which are classified as plants with novel traits (PNTs), please turn to the paragraph on Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) below.

Wildlife and Wildlife Products

Shipments of wildlife and wildlife products listed in Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) require an import permit from Environment and Climate Change Canada. Imports of other wildlife animals must be permitted by the regional wildlife service offices. Details of the application procedures are given in the documents listed below:

  • CITES Permit for Animals and Animal Products

  • CITES Permit for Plants and Plant Products

  • Import Permit for Wildlife Animals.

It is furthermore noteworthy that the importation of particular species may be prohibited altogether, e.g. in order to prevent the introduction of certain diseases and pathogens. By way of example, an import prohibition is currently in force for all species of salamanders imported for other than scientific and research purposes.

Foodstuffs

The central Canadian authority administering the overall requirements for foodstuffs, e.g. as regards safety and trade-related stipulations, is the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA). It is the importer's responsibility to ensure that all Canadian requirements, e.g. as regards preventive control plans (PCPs), traceability, record keeping as well as health and safety standards, are met. As such, foodstuffs must not be poisonous or harmful or consist of putrid or diseased substances; they must be fit for human consumption, unadulterated, and prepared and stored under sanitary conditions. Further stipulations apply to the transportation of foodstuffs.

The Safe Food for Canadians Regulations (SFCR), which entered into force on 15 January 2019, thus repealing a set of 14 former regulations concerning the trade in foodstuffs, stipulates that an Import Licence for Foodstuffs, also referred to as Safe Food for Canadians (SFC) licence, is to be obtained from the CFIA prior to the importation of such goods. The licence is required for nearly all types of foods with a few exceptions, e.g. food additives, beverages containing more than 0.5% absolute ethyl alcohol by volume, foodstuffs intended solely for analysis, evaluation or research, foodstuffs which are not intended for human consumption or foodstuffs traded between federal penitentiaries. In order to allow industry stakeholders to comply with the provisions of the new Regulations, different compliance timelines have been prescribed. Accordingly, for a number of foodstuffs, i.e. goods listed in Schedule 1 of the Regulations for use as grains, oils, pulses, sugar or beverages, goods which are not consumer prepackaged foodstuffs and goods which bear a label stating that the foodstuffs are only intended for further preparation, the licence is also not required until 15 July 2020. Moreover, importers which hold existing valid import licences or establishment registrations which were issued under the Canada Agricultural Products Act (CAPA), Meat Inspection Act (MIA) or Fish Inspection Act (FIA) and pertinent Regulations, e.g. a fish import licence or cheese import licence, prior to the enforcement date, may continue their import transactions under the respective endorsements until their expiry date.

Depending on the type of foodstuffs to be imported, the country of origin and the type of foreign supplier, different documentation requirements may be in place when applying for a licence. As such, a Certificate of Analysis issued by a competent authority in the country of export may be required. Further information may be obtained from the quoted documents.

For designated types of foodstuffs, i.e. dairy products, eggs and processed egg products, fish and seafood products, fresh fruit and vegetables as well as processed fruit and vegetables products, honey, meat products as well as maple and maple products, specific import requirements may be in place, e.g. with regard to their grades and weights.

Particular regulations exist for the allowable use of food additives concerning the kind, the amount and foodstuffs they may be added to; non-conforming products may be refused entry into Canada. To this regard, certain substances contained in Part 1 of the List of Contaminants and other Adulterating Substances in Foods of the CFIA, e.g. partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs), fatty acids, safroles as well as other designated chemicals and oils, are prohibited to be contained in foodstuffs imported into or processed for sale in Canada. Other substances contained in Part 2 of said list are prohibited if they exceed the stipulated maximum levels (MLs) in designated types of foodstuffs. Similarly, foodstuffs must comply with the stipulations with regard to the allowable irradiation of designated goods.

It is noteworthy that, in addition to the federal stipulations as summarised here, provincial regulations may exist depending on the kinds of foodstuffs and on the respective Canadian province. For example, in case of alcoholic beverages, the full control over their importation is held by the provinces and territories instead of by a federal body, as indicated in the following chapter.

Particular kinds of foodstuffs are subject to specific regulations and requirements, e.g. those falling under the Import Control List (ICL) monitored by the Global Affairs Canada. For details thereof as well as for information on the tariff rate quota system applicable to some types of food, please turn to the section on Import Control above.

Moreover, for specific information on import requirements for food products of animal or plant origin (i.e. agricultural goods) as well as for those foodstuffs falling under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), please consult the respective sections above. Furthermore, vitamins and mineral supplements are regulated as drugs in Canada; please find information on import requirements for drugs in the respective section below. A Letter of No Objection for Novel Foods is required from Health Canada for novel foods, including those of genetically modified sources (please also see the section on Genetically Modified Organisms below). It is noteworthy that food products treated with high pressure processing (HPP), i.e. high hydrostatic pressure (HHP) processing or ultra-high pressure (UHP) processing, are no longer considered novel foods and are thus exempt from the aforementioned requirement. However, based on the HPP purpose and parameters, documentation with details of the treatment and final products may be required for the purpose of additional validation.

In the particular case of meat imports, the meat inspection system of the country of export must have been approved by the CFIA so that the conformity with the Canadian health and product standards is guaranteed. Before issuing such approval to the responsible authority in the exporting country, the CFIA conducts not only documentary reviews but also on-site audits. The subsequent approval entails a list of establishments eligible to export meat products to Canada. Maintenance assessments are conducted by the CFIA at least once a year in order to decide whether the approval may be prolonged or not.

Please keep in mind that after the importation of meat from an eligible establishment in the approved country of export, a Permit to Import Animals and Animal Products is nevertheless required, except for specific importations from NAFTA countries.

Although not legally prescribed, many Canadian retailers require their food merchandise to show a universal product code (UPC); this twelve-digit machine-readable code is administered by GS1 Canada. It is used to identify consumer packages and may be used for further inventory purposes, e.g. on invoices, cases or Bills of Lading. GS1 Canada may be contacted at 9200 boul. du Golf, CA-Montreal (Anjou), Quebec, H1J3A1, phone number: +1 514 3558929, fax number: +1 514 3563235.

For information on basic legal labelling requirements for foodstuffs, please refer to the relevant section below.

Alcoholic Beverages

The importation of alcoholic beverages into Canada is regulated under the Importation of Intoxicating Liquors Act. In accordance with said Act, the importation of intoxicating liquor into any province in Canada may only be carried out by a board, commission, officer or other governmental agency legally authorised to sell the goods in the country. Similarly, beer and spirits intended for the purposes of blending or flavouring with domestic beer or spirits or for packaging, may only be imported by a brewer or a distiller, respectively. Grape juice concentrates with an alcoholic content of more than 0.5% are classified as intoxicating beverages and are therefore subject to the same importation requirements. The sale of alcoholic beverages is controlled by the competent provincial and territorial liquor boards. Accordingly, the relevant provincial authority should be contacted for further information on the specific requirements.

As per the Excise Act, spirits, denatured alcohol, bulk alcohol and wine may only be imported by and sold to licencees, licensed users or alcohol registrants. The competent authority for issuing such licences is the Canada Revenue Agency, which may be contacted for further information as follows: Canada Revenue Agency, 1050 Notre Dame Avenue, Post Office Box 20000, Station A, CA-Sudbury, Ontario, P3A5C1, phone number: +1 613 9408497, fax number: +1 705 6710490.

Under the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations (SFCR) which entered into force on 15 January 2019, as described in the preceding chapter on foodstuffs, the requirement of an Import Licence for Foodstuffs, also referred to as Safe Food for Canadians (SFC) licence, does not apply to alcoholic beverages. However, the traceability requirements established under the quoted Regulations will also apply to alcoholic beverages that are imported and sold to consumers at retail as of 15 July 2020.

Information on the basic legal labelling requirements for alcoholic beverages may obtained from the corresponding section further below.

Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs)

The Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) is an international agreement which aims to ensure the safe handling, transport and use of modified organisms resulting from modern biotechnology which may have adverse effects on biological diversity, taking also into account risks to human health. The Protocol differentiates between five risk classes ranging from no-risk to high-risk GMOs, which are defined in the respective lists. Canada is not a member of the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety. Non-parties to the Protocol may nevertheless impose measures for the importation, placement on the market and use of GMOs. For member states, a facilitated procedure may be available in the form of an advanced informed agreement (AIA) on designated products.

In the scope of the Cartagena Protocol, the Biosafety Clearing House (BCH) is a platform for the exchange of scientific, technical, environmental and legal information on, and experience with, modified organisms. It also assists parties to implement the Protocol and has local branches in various countries. Further information may be obtained from the Biosafety Clearing House (BCH), 413, St. Jacques Street, Suite 800, CA-Montreal, Quebec, H2Y1N9, phone number: +1 514 2882220, fax number: +1 514 2886588.

In Canada, the control of GMOs is divided among different authorities, depending on the intended use, i.e. the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) controls genetically modified seeds and livestock feed, Environment and Climate Change Canada substances intended for environmental release and Health Canada GMO food and feed: GMOs to be consumed as food fall under the legislation for novel food and, as such, require a Letter of No Objection for Novel Foods from Health Canada in order to be sold in Canada.

In case of plant varieties which contain novel traits, e.g. generated using genetic engineering, the varieties are regulated as genetically modified. Such so-called plants with novel traits (PNTs) must accordingly be approved by the Plant Biosafety Office of the CFIA. In order for the release of PNTs to be permitted into the national environment, the risks associated must be extensively evaluated by the authority. PNTs which are not authorised for unconfined release into the Canadian environment require an Import Permit for Designated Plants and Plant Products. For further information, please turn to the quoted document as well as to the section on Plants and Plant Products above.

In the scope of the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, the national BCH in Canada (BCHs also exist in non-party countries) is the Plant Biosafety Office under the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, 59 Camelot Drive, CA-Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0Y9, phone number: +1 613 2252342, fax number: +1 613 7737277.

Pesticides, Fertilisers and Feeds

Pesticides to be imported must be registered with the Pest Management Regulatory Agency of Health Canada. For this purpose, the Electronic Pesticide Regulatory System (e-PRS) is to be used. Furthermore, importers are required to submit a declaration containing details of their products to the customs office of entry.

Fertilisers and feeds are administered by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA). In both cases, a registration of the goods with the responsible CFIA division is necessary for customs clearance and market access. Please see the following documents for details:

  • Certificate of Analysis

  • Importer's Declaration of Pesticides

  • Registration of Feeds

  • Registration of Fertilisers

  • Registration of Pesticides.

Information on Canada's participation in the Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade and in the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutant is depicted in the section on Chemical Substances and Hazardous Goods below.

Drugs, Medical Devices and Further Health Products

Drug establishments must be licensed by Health Canada to fabricate, package or label, import, distribute, sell wholesale and test such goods. In order to be sold in Canada (or imported into Canada for sale), drugs must have also obtained a Drug Identification Number (DIN). These requirements not only pertain to human medicine but also to veterinary drugs (please be aware that designated veterinary drugs are prohibited from importation if for food-producing animals).

Establishments importing human cells, tissues and organs (CTO) must be registered with Health Canada.

In case of medical devices for human use, the importing/manufacturing business entities as well as the goods to be imported/manufactured must meet licence requirements. Only class I medical devices (i.e. those representing the lowest risk as opposed to classes II, III and IV) are exempt from the requirement of a product licence.

In case of natural health products (i.e. a homeopathic medicine, a traditional medicine or a substance included in Schedule 1 of the Natural Health Products Regulations), non-prescription drugs and disinfectant drugs, a product licence as well as a site licence are required from the Natural and Non-prescription Health Products Directorate (NNHPD). A prerequisite for the product licence is the respective inclusion of the ingredients in the Natural Health Products Ingredients Database (NHPID).

Please see the following documents for details:

With regard to good manufacturing practice (GMP), please see the section on Standards below.

In case of veterinary biologics, product registration at the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is necessary for their importation. Such registration is obtained in the scope of applying for the relevant import permit for the first time. Please turn to the document Import Permit for Veterinary Biologics for more details.

For the application procedure for the quoted import permit, the provision of a Certificate of a Pharmaceutical Product (CPP) or a Free Sale Certificate may be helpful. These documents may facilitate import procedures of other commodities, too.

Precursors, Controlled Substances and Industrial Hemp

Health Canada is also responsible for the import control of precursors. The import requirements depend on the class of precursors: Importers of class A precursors must obtain a dealer's licence and an import permit. Furthermore, licence holders must submit an end-use declaration to the mentioned authority to sell or provide such products to a person who is not a licensed dealer. Importers of class B precursors must apply for a registration with Health Canada.

For commodities classified as controlled substances under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, companies must be authorised as a dealer and obtain permission for the actual importation.

Importers of industrial hemp are to obtain an import licence and an import permit from Health Canada. Licencees are required to keep specific records of their products. As of 17 October 2018, industrial hemp is regulated under the Cannabis Act. In accordance with the new Industrial Hemp Regulations, the sale of hemp plant, i.e. flowers, leaves and branches, to licensed cannabis processors is permitted, to provide a source of low tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), high cannabidiol (CBD) cannabis products. Although cannabis has become legal in accordance with the aforementioned Act, its importation is permitted only for medical or scientific purposes on the basis of an import permit issued by Health Canada for each shipment. Moreover, under the Act, the sale of edible cannabis, cannabis extracts and cannabis topicals will not be legal before October 2019.

Further details are provided in the following documents:

Chemical Substances and Hazardous Goods

In accordance with the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 and its relevant regulations, the responsible department of Environment and and Climate Change Canada must be notified of the intention to import new substances in order to evaluate the implied risk for adverse effects and to determine any control measures, as applicable. New substances are chemicals, polymers and animate biotechnological products which are not included in the Domestic Substances List (DSL). It is advisable to first consult the DSL to find out whether the substance intended for entry into Canada is included therein. Otherwise, a New Substances Notification is to be submitted. The Material Safety Data Sheet, which may be necessary for such notification purposes, may also be helpful for the importation of other chemical substances.

Please refer to the quoted documents for more details.

Canada is a member of the Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade, commonly known as the Rotterdam Convention. This Convention undertakes to ensure that exports of designated chemical substances may only take place with the consent of the importing party. By means of the prior informed consent (PIC) procedure, information is gathered and disseminated as to whether an importing party wishes to receive future shipments of a certain chemical and to ensure the compliance with that decision by the exporting party. The treaty further requires all parties to notify the Convention Secretariat about any national legal changes with regard to a ban or a severe restriction of a chemical. In terms of the actual shipment of a product, information about the characteristics of the chemical must be provided, labelling requirements adhered to and stipulations such as the indication of the HS code in the shipping documents met, thus guaranteeing the sound handling of such substance.

In case a company is seeking to export chemicals which are covered by the Convention (i.e. the pesticides and industrial chemicals listed in Annex III of the Convention) or which are subject to national regulatory action (i.e. bans or severe restrictions in the importing country's own territory), an export notification must be sent to the Designated National Authority (DNA) of the importing country nominated to this effect in order to obtain prior consent. For further information, please refer to the document Export Notification for Goods Coming under the Rotterdam Convention.

In addition to the Rotterdam Convention, Canada is also party to the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (also referred to as the POP Convention), a treaty designed to curb and eventually abolish the production, use and trade of toxic, long-lasting chemicals by requiring its signatories to take measures to eliminate or restrict the production and use of POPs and to minimise any possible unintentional releases of such substances into the environment. Exemptions, i.e. the continued use and/or production of one or more chemicals covered by the treaty for a certain period of time, may be applied for by the member states. Furthermore, amendments to the treaty (lastly done so in 2009 with the addition of nine more chemicals to the original list of twelve chemicals) are subject to the approval and ratification of each signatory state, thereby allowing the country time to implement the measures required to adhere to the new stipulations. As a consequence, imports and exports of the chemicals covered by the Stockholm Convention may be subject to prohibitions or severe restrictions. Importers are also advised to contact the responsible authority for issues of nature protection, i.e. the Official Contact Point (OCP). The OCP in Canada is the Environment and Climate Change Canada, Chemical Management Division, Risk Management of Persistent Organic Pollutants Section, Place Vincent Massey, 10th floor, 351 St. Joseph Boulevard, CA-Gatineau, Quebec, K1A0H3, phone number: +1 819 9384305, fax number: +1 819 9384340.

On 7 April 2017, Canada ratified the Minamata Convention on Mercury, a global treaty to protect human health and the environment from the adverse effects of mercury. The Convention intends to ensure that exports of mercury may only take place with the prior consent of the importing country and for the purpose of environmentally sound interim storage or an allowed use. Such consent must also be sought in the case of export transactions from a member state to any country which is not a party of the Convention. Forms for the provision of written consent by a party or a non-party to the import of mercury are both made available by the Convention in different languages.

In addition, the phase-out of mercury-added products has been agreed upon. Therefore, by 2020, Canada will ban the production, exportation and importation of numerous mercury-containing products, e.g. dry cell batteries, switches and relays, certain types of fluorescent lamps, cosmetics, pesticides as well as designated non-electronic measuring devices (e.g. thermometers and blood pressure monitors). Parties may apply for the registration of exemptions from the stipulated phase-out dates for one or more products or processes listed in Annex A or B of the Convention if their use or import is deemed essential. Unless a shorter period is indicated in the respective register by a party, exemptions usually expire five years after the relevant phase-out date and may be extended only once per product upon request.

Ozone-Depleting Substances (ODS)

Environment and Climate Change Canada is also the competent authority for imports of ozone-depleting substances (ODS) and halocarbon alternatives, including hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) and hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), as well as products containing or designed to contain such substances, e.g. refrigerators and fire-extinguishers. Importers are required to obtain permission from the Ozone Layer Protection and Export Controls Section and submit annual reports of imported commodities during that specific period of time. Please turn to the document entitled Import Permit for Ozone-Depleting Substances for further details.

In accordance with the Montreal Protocol on Substances That Deplete the Ozone Layer, which Canada is a member of, the country is currently in the process of gradually phasing out certain substances. Consequently, as of January 2015, HCFCs may only be imported and manufactured if intended for re-exportation or for use or sale as a refrigerant, fire-extinguishing agent or air-conditioning equipment until 1 January 2020 or 2025, respectively, as stipulated in the Ozone-depleting Substances and Halocarbon Alternatives Regulations (ODSHAR). The same applies to HCFC-123 to be used as a refrigerant before 1 January 2030. As of 1 January 2020, however, the importation and manufacturing of all products which contain HCFCs or are designed to contain HCFCs will be prohibited for importation, unless a permit has been issued prior to said date. Furthermore, motor vehicles equipped with an air-conditioning system containing designated HFCs will also be prohibited beginning with the 2021 model year. Plastic foam or rigid foam products which contain HFCs as foaming agents will be prohibited as of 1 January 2021.

Currently, HCFCs which are intended for a use, for which a controlled substance has priorly not been used in Canada, are not allowed to be imported. Also prohibited are products which contain CFCs, e.g. aerosol spray cans, automotive air conditioning refill kits, cooling sprays, coating or cleaning solvents for electrical or electronic equipment, lubricant sused in mining operations, mould release agents, pest control products, plastic foams, protective sprays for documents, air conditioning/heat pump equipment, signal horns, insect sprays, etc.. Pressurised containers containing two kilogrammes or less of HFCs used as a propellant that has a global warming potential greater than 150 are prohibited as of 1 January 2019.

Due to its phase-out, the importation, manufacture and use of methyl bromide is prohibited in Canada unless intended for purposes of quarantine and pre-shipment applications, use as feedstock or for critical, emergency and analytical uses.

Furthermore, for the importation of methyl bromide as well as for unused HCFCs which are intended for non-essential uses, importers are to apply for an authorisation to consume a designated quantity on an annual basis. Holders thereof may transfer a portion of their allowance to other companies for another use.

In order for HCFCs to be importable, these must be stored in refillable containers; as the use, sale and storage of halocarbons in non-refillable containers is duly prohibited in Canada.

Conveyances of ODS will be subject to a documentary verification by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) at the time of importation in order to determine that imports are within the maximum allowable quantities.

Firearms and Explosives

Firearms which have been newly manufactured or are to be newly imported must be registered with the Canada Firearms Program of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Applicants must be in possession of a valid Firearms Licence for Businesses. Furthermore, firearms are subject to the import control requirements of the Trade Controls Bureau (TID) under the Global Affairs Canada (please see also the section on Import Control above) and hence require an import permit, unless they are non-restricted and destined to sporting or recreational use.

The importation of explosives, including fireworks and ammunition, must be permitted by the Explosives Regulatory Division of Natural Resources Canada. If the substances in question have not been authorised for importation, manufacture, transportation, possession or use in Canada, an application for authorisation is to be submitted to said authority. Please see the following documents for details:

  • Authorisation of Explosives

  • General Import Permit for Arms

  • Import Permit for Explosives

  • Registration of Firearms.

Nuclear and Radioactive Materials

Nuclear substances, equipment and technology, including nuclear-related dual-use goods, as well as radioactive substances and devices are controlled under the Nuclear Non-proliferation Import and Export Control Regulations (NNIECR) by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC). A licence to import such goods must be obtained from said authority when the amount of nuclear substances is greater than its exemption quantity or when the amount of nuclear substances in radiation devices reaches ten times the exemption quantity.

In certain cases, exemptions from the licence requirement may apply, e.g. for parts for controlled nuclear equipment or for nuclear substances which are not radioactive nuclides.

For items to be imported which are not contained in the CNSC's list of controlled nuclear substances and equipment, a general authorisation to import the goods is required instead.

Depending on the type of items to be imported, e.g. in the case of nuclear weapons and nuclear dual-use goods, end-use controls may be necessary in the form of risk-based assessments.

In case of risk-significant radioactive substances, e.g. high-risk sealed sources, prior import controls in compliance with the provisions of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), taking into account the associated proliferation risks, security, transport, waste management and possession controls, are a requirement for the issue of the authorisation to import and possess such sources. Imports of categories 1 and 2 radioactive sources must moreover be notified prior to shipment by the exporting state authority.

For more information on the licensing procedure, please also see the document entitled Import Licence for Nuclear Substances and Equipment.

Textiles

For textiles that are eligible for tariff preferences under the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) with the European Union (EU), the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), i.e. the future United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), the Canada-Chile Free Trade Agreement, the Canada-Costa Rica Free Trade Agreement and the Canada-Honduras Free Trade Agreement, an import permit issued by the Trade Controls Bureau (TID) is necessary for each shipment in order to claim a reduced rate of import duty. For this purpose, an annual origin quota system is in place on a first-come, first-served basis. For further information, please contact the TID at the following address: Global Affairs Canada, Trade Controls Bureau (TID), 125 Sussex Drive, CA-Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 0G2, phone numbers: +1 343 2036820, 613 9441265, fax numbers: +1 613 9960612, 9955137.

If textiles are imported without claiming any tariff preferences as outlined above, no import permits are required. Nevertheless, all textiles to be imported must bear a label in accordance with the stipulations as set out in the Textile Labelling Act and its Regulations (for further information thereon, please refer to the section on Labelling Requirements below). In case of incomplete labelling at the time of importation, a possibility of re-labelling in Canada before the sale of the products exists. In this case, the Competition Bureau is to be notified of the following details by the time of arrival at the latest:

  • information on the nature and quantity of the importation

  • date of arrival

  • port of entry

  • address of the premises used for the intended re-labelling.

Diamonds

Canada adheres to the principles of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS). For the importation of rough diamonds, a Kimberley Process Certificate must be presented to the customs authorities at the customs office of entry. If found compliant, the customs officer stamps the certificate and returns it. This certificate is then to be sent to the Kimberley Process Office of the Natural Resources Canada.

Records and documents related to the importation of rough diamonds into Canada must be retained for at least three years.

More information may be found in the abovementioned document.

Motor Vehicles

In general, all motor vehicles to be imported must comply with the Canada Motor Vehicle Safety Standards at the time of importation. For this, the manufacturer must usually design, test and certify the vehicles specifically. Such test reports and certificates must be submitted to Transport Canada before the shipment of consignments. Upon arrival, inspections as to the compliance with the Canadian standards may be conducted. Non-compliant vehicles may not be altered and are denied entry. The responsibility for the compliance lies with the importer and must be proven by the affixing of a respective compliance label by the original manufacturer. Exempt from this rule are, inter alia, vehicles which are older than 15 years and buses which were manufactured before 1971. Furthermore, vehicles which were manufactured for sale in the United States or modified to comply with the applicable United States standards may be importable under particular circumstances. In the specific case of vehicles from the United States, the so-called Registrar of Imported Vehicles (RIV) programme exists.

Upon entry in Canada, the imported consignments are monitored by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA). Hence, the importer must submit an import form; please see the following documents for further details:

  • Import Form for Vehicles Imported for Parts

  • Vehicle Import Form.

As a facilitation of import procedures, a Registration under the Pre-Clearance Programme for Motor Vehicles provides for a reduction in inspections upon importation. In this case, the manufacturer and the importer must prove their ability to consistently comply with the applicable Canadian requirements. Please turn also to the quoted document.

Tyres

New or used tyres to be imported into Canada must comply with the applicable safety standards and consequently be marked with the National Safety Mark or an accepted equivalent mark from another country (the United States or Japan). The applicable import requirements depend on the kind of tyre: for example, new tyres for on-road use require a written manufacturer's declaration as to the compliance with the standards. Alternatively, the submission of the following details through the electronic clearance system is accepted as such declaration:

  • name of the manufacturer

  • name and brand of the product

  • type and size of the product

  • compliance indicator for tyre completion and import date

  • import purpose code

  • tire importer identification number (only in case of used truck tyres to be retreaded).

If the tyres (new and used) are imported for off-road purposes, such designation must be permanently marked on the sidewalls.

Please be aware that exemptions exist for tyres imported from the United States.

Further details of stipulations with regard to the importation of used tyres and vehicles may be found in the section on Used Goods below.

Consumer Products

Consumer products (e.g. many children's products, household products, sporting goods, etc.) to be imported must not be a danger to human health and safety. Their importation into Canada is only allowed if they comply with the regulations and requirements as stipulated in the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act. The legislative definition of a consumer product according to the act exempts particular goods which fall under different legislation, e.g. foodstuffs, drugs, explosives or natural health products.

Under the Act, regulations are issued for the particular kinds of consumer products, stipulating the specific requirements for such goods, inter alia as regards importation, e.g. for asbestos, various children's products, consumer chemicals and matches. For example in the case of lighters to be imported, the Lighters Regulations prescribe record-keeping requirements, the presentation of a test certificate on the product's child-resistance and particular labelling requirements. Consumer products may moreover be subject to extensive testing procedures prior to their placement on the market. By way of example, toys and other children's products are generally subject to testings as regards their flammability, irritant properties, lead and magnetic components contents as well as other safety aspects. To this effect, Health Canada may request information on the product safety, including conducted studies or existing test reports indicating that the stipulations of the Act are met.

The same Act stipulates that importers, sellers and further persons involved in the supply chain of consumer products are obliged to maintain records as well as to report an incident, i.e. an occurrence relating to or resulting in an individual's death or serious adverse effects on their health, at least two days after having become aware of it. Furthermore, a written report must be submitted to the relevant authority within ten days.

Depending on the person, particular kinds of information (i.e., in the case of importers, the names and addresses of the consignee and of the consignor) must be kept for at least six years and must be made available to Health Canada upon request. This requirement is to ensure the product tracing throughout the supply chain at all times in order to conduct product recalls and/or inspections, if and as deemed necessary.

Furthermore, particular consumer products as depicted in the schedule to the abovementioned Act are prohibited from importation into Canada altogether as they may pose an unreasonable danger to the health or safety of Canadians. Such goods are, e.g., products for oral use by babies which contain a viable micro-organism, baby bottles which contain bisphenol A, or kite strings which are made of a material that conducts electricity. Please also see the section on Prohibited Imports below for additional information.

In order to obtain further details of the import requirements for consumer goods, please contact the Consumer Product Safety Directorate as follows: Health Canada, Consumer Product Safety Directorate, Product Safety Programme, Health Canada, 269 Laurier Avenue West, 4908B, CA-Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 0K9, phone number: +1 613 9521014, fax number: +1 613 9522551.

For details of the labelling requirements for such products, please refer to the relevant section below.

Standards

In general, the system of standards regulations in Canada is quite complex because not only national norms exist. Apart from regional differences between the provinces, also a number of voluntary codes are being developed, the influence of which may be, e.g. due to the market share of the company, comparable to national standards in some areas. The same may also be said about some of the voluntary national standards.

The framework for national standards in Canada, for their implementation, promotion and development, is Canada's National Standards System (NSS). The authority overseeing the NSS is the Standards Council of Canada (SCC). It incorporates several different bodies which are responsible for the development and for the products' conformity assessment, e.g. through on-site inspections or tests. Compliance with national standards may be certified, e.g. through the issue of specific marks. One of the most important of these bodies is the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) Group; others are, e.g., the Bureau de Normalisation du Québec, the Canadian General Standards Board and the Underwriters' Laboratories of Canada. Furthermore, the Consumer and Public Interest Panel advises the SCC, giving the consumers' perspective.

Information on national Canadian standards may be requested from the Standards Council of Canada (SCC), 55 Metcalfe Street, Suite 600, CA-Ottawa, Ontario, K1P6L5, phone number: +1 613 2383222, fax number: +1 613 5697808.

Further conformity requirements may apply for the importation of goods, depending on the specific type of product. Information on provisions concerning consumer products regulated under the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act, e.g., are illustrated in the preceding chapter.

By way of example, various categories of personal protective equipment (PPE), i.e. equipment intended for use in medical/health care such as surgical gloves or in life-threatening environments, e.g. particulate respirators, must conform to different national and international norms (e.g. ISO, American or European standards). In Canada, the following certifying bodies have been accredited to assess the conformity of PPE and issue corresponding conformity marks and/or certificates:

  • American Association of Textile Chemists and Colourists (AATCC)

  • American National Standards Institute (ANSI)

  • American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) International

  • Association for the Advancement of Medical Instruments (AAMI)

  • Canadian Centre of Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS)

  • Canadian General Standards Board (CGSB)

  • Canadian Standards Association (CSA)

  • Center for Disease Control (CDC)

  • Conformité Européen (European Conformity - CE)

  • European Economic Community (EEC)

  • International Standards Organization (ISO)

  • National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)

  • National Institute of Occupation Safety and Health (NIOSH).

Depending on the category of the equipment, i.e. for PPE used in health care, a Health Canada licence for class II medical devices will be considered equivalent to the certification by an internationally recognised body (please also turn to the document entitled Medical Device Licence as well as the corresponding chapter on Drugs, Medical Devices and Further Health Products above).

It is noteworthy that different conformity assessment bodies are accredited by the SCC, which may be viewed at https://www.scc.ca/en/accreditation/find-accredited-or-certified-body.

Broadcasting equipment and radio equipment to be imported and sold on the Canadian market must comply with the Canadian technical standards. A corresponding certification is to be applied for by the importer or manufacturer at the Certification and Engineering Bureau of Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada. For further information, please refer to the documents Certification of Broadcasting Equipment and Certification of Radio Equipment.

Regulated energy-using products must meet the Canadian energy efficiency standards. For the importation of such products, an Energy Efficiency Report must be submitted to Natural Resources Canada and relevant details are to be provided to the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) for customs release (please see the quoted document for further information). Said products are exempt from the requirement of complying with the Canadian standards if they are intended for exportation or are to be included in products which are to be exported from Canada.

Mutual Recognition Agreements (MRAs)

Canada has concluded mutual recognition agreements (MRAs) with various countries in order to facilitate trade by means of mutual acceptance of conformity assessment results.

By way of example, MRAs between Canada and the European Union (EU) as well as the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) are in place for the products and sectors listed below:

  • radio and telecommunications terminal equipment

  • electromagnetic compatibility (EMC)

  • electrical safety

  • recreational craft

  • pharmaceutical good manufacturing practice (GMP)

  • medical devices.

With regard to the conformity assessment of telecommunications equipment, Canada has also concluded MRAs with Israel, Mexico, the member states of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), i.e. Australia, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea, the United States of America (USA) and Vietnam, as well as with the states participating in the Inter-American Telecommunication Commission (CITEL) MRA of the Organization of American States (OAS).

With Australia, Canada has an MRA in place on the conformity assessment in relation to the good manufacturing practice (GMP) inspection and certification of medicines.

To this end, Canada accepts the results of conformity assessment procedures, e.g. in the form of certifications of compliance, suppliers' declarations and quality management certificates, conducted by designated conformity assessment bodies in order to exempt goods from further testing requirements. By way of example, for pharmaceutical products and medical devices, a Certificate of Good Manufacturing Practice issued in the country of manufacture and/or export is to be submitted in order to prove compliance with the provisions of the MRA. Please see the quoted document for details.

Used Goods

The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) restricts the import of some used or second-hand goods into Canada.

The importation of used or second-hand motor vehicles into Canada, e.g., is prohibited, except for such commodities that are specified in the Used or Second-Hand Motor Vehicles Regulations. For example, said import prohibition does not apply to used motor vehicles imported for personal purposes, if equipped with particular machinery, if older than 15 years, or if imported from the United States. In accordance with legal stipulations by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) to protect plants and animal health, used vehicles to be imported must be clean and free of soil. (Please turn also to the section on Motor Vehicles above.)

Used tyres to be imported must generally be free of soil, organic material and related matter. Only used truck tyres for on-road use may be imported under particular circumstances, e.g. if the importer has obtained a tire importer identification number from Transport Canada. All other kinds of used tyres, including retreaded, remolded and recapped tyres, are not admissible (except from the United States if a respective conformity mark is born on the sidewalls).

Used or second-hand aircraft is also prohibited from importation into Canada, except for those engaged solely in international traffic, imported by the Canadian authorities for military purposes, or imported from the United States.

Used or second-hand mattresses are prohibited from importation into Canada, too. Only the materials therefrom may be imported if they have been cleaned and fumigated and are accompanied by a respective certificate.

Second-hand consumer textile articles which are clearly identified as such are exempt from the labelling requirements as depicted in the sections on Textiles above and Labelling Requirements below. If a label is applied nonetheless, this must not be false nor misleading.

Prohibited Imports

A range of products are prohibited (either completely or under certain circumstances) from being imported into Canada, e.g.:

  • particular kinds of birds and feathers

  • designated animals, plants and their products when imported from certain countries or when originating in countries where specific diseases are present

  • seeds defined as quarantine weed seeds under the Weed Seeds Order 2005

  • foodstuffs containing prohibited substances as stipulated in the List of Contaminants and other Adulterating Substances in Foods

  • designated veterinary drugs for use on food-producing animals

  • packages of tobacco products intended for sale which do not contain at least the prescribed portions, number or quantity of the product, e.g. at least twenty cigerattes, little cigars or blunt wraps

  • tobacco products, i.e. cigarettes, cigars and blunt wraps, which contain prohibited additives listed in the Schedule to the Tobacco Act (e.g. menthol, caffeine, taurine, flavouring substances, colouring agents, etc.) as well as tobacco products which are packaged and/or marked in such manner to suggest that they contain prohibited additives

  • vaping products and devices, i.e. electronic cigarettes and electronic nicotine delivery systems as well as their individual parts (e.g. atomisers and vaping liquids), making health claims and containing health product ingredients other than nicotine (e.g. flavours which may appeal to the youth)

  • various second-hand or used goods (please see also the section thereon above)

  • matches containing white phosphorus

  • debased or counterfeit currency

  • articles bearing false or misleading marks as regards their geographical country of origin, characteristics or health hazards

  • goods which are considered to be obscene, treasonable, seditious, hate propaganda or child pornography

  • goods which have been manufactured or produced wholly or in part by prisoners

  • reprints of specific Canadian works which are protected by copyright

  • children's jewellry containing more than 90 mg/kg of lead and more than 130 mg/kg of cadmium

  • toys containing organic solvents, heavy metals, plant seeds and other toxic substances stipulated in the Toys Regulations

  • certain consumer products, i.e. products brought into contact with the user's mouth (other than kitchen utensils and glazed ceramics and glassware), children's clothing and accessories, products for use in children's learning or playing (e.g. books and other printed products) and products used to facilitate the relaxation, sleep, hygiene, carrying or transportation of children, which contain more than 90 mg/kg of lead in each accessible part

  • processed asbestos fibres, products containing processed asbestos fibres and consumer products containing naturally occurring asbestos (with a limited number of exclusions as stipulated by the Prohibition of Asbestos and Products Containing Asbestos Regulations)

  • other designated consumer products which bear a danger to human health and safety and/or are specified as prohibited under the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act (please turn to the relevant section above)

  • designated ozone-depleting substances (ODS), as illustrated in the corresponding chapter above.

Waste

Canada is a party to the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal. In accordance with the provisions of said Convention, movements of hazardous waste across the Canadian border must be notified in advance to the Transboundary Movement Branch of Environment and Climate Change Canada. Furthermore, shipments containing hazardous waste must be accompanied by a movement document indicating detailed information on the goods and their importation. Economic operators should note that the responsibility for the control of hazardous waste is shared between Environment and Climate Change Canada and the federal governments, the former regulating international and territorial movements, while the latter are responsible for intraprovincial movements of hazardous waste.

Canada is also a member of the Convention on the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and accordingly applies the provisions of the Decision of the Council concerning the Control of Transboundary Movements of Wastes Destined for Recovery Operations. In this regard, the OECD provides a guideline for the international trade in said goods by virtue of the abovementioned Decision. A corresponding OECD guidance manual has been developed.

The OECD control system is based on two types of control procedures (please note that waste exported outside the OECD area, whether for recovery or final disposal, does not benefit from this control system):

  • green control procedure: for wastes that present a low risk for human health and the environment and, therefore, are not subject to any other controls than those normally applied in commercial transactions

  • amber control procedure: for wastes presenting sufficient risk to justify their control accordingly.

For more information, please see the following documents:

  • Notice of Waste Imports

  • Waste Movement Document.

Importers of consignments of waste should contact the following authority in Canada in order to clarify whether the goods are classified as hazardous waste or not: Environment and Climate Change Canada, Waste Reduction and Management Division, Place Vincent Massey, 351 St. Joseph Boulevard, 9th floor, CA-Gatineau, Québec, K1A0H3, phone number: +1 844 5245295, fax number: +1 819 9384555.

Commercial Samples

The Canada Border Services Agency provides for a duty- and tax-free entry of commercial samples in the case that the following requirements are met:

The samples must be of a negligible value. That is, the duties and taxes otherwise paid or payable on the goods must not be more than 2 CAD.

Furthermore, the sole use of the goods entered as samples must be to solicit orders for such goods. These goods must be supplied directly from abroad.

Only one sample of each kind or quality is allowed under these circumstances, except for such goods which are consumed or destroyed during demonstration (e.g. foodstuffs, non-alcoholic beverages, perfumes or chemical products). In these exceptional cases, the goods must be packaged in such way that they may not be used for any other intention than to be used as samples.

In some cases, the customs authorities may require that the products be rendered useless as merchandise in such way as not to destroy its usefulness as a sample (e.g. by means of marking, tearing, perforating or gluing).

It is furthermore noteworthy that particular stipulations exist for certain kinds of samples in the scope of different trade agreements, e.g. the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), i.e. the future United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).

As Canada is a member of the Customs Convention on the Temporary Admission of Goods (A.T.A. Convention), the option for a temporary entry of goods under an international carnet also generally exists. Please refer to the section on International Agreements as well as to the document Carnet A.T.A. for further details.

For further information, please contact the customs authorities as follows: Trade Incentives and Refunds Unit, Tariff Policy Division, Trade Programs Directorate, Admissibility Branch, Canada Border Services Agency, 8th Floor, 150 Isabella Street, CA-Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0L8, phone number: +1 613 9546878, fax number: +1 613 9523971.

Harmonized System

As a multipurpose international product nomenclature, the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System (HS), commonly referred to as Harmonized System, constitutes a universal economic language and code for goods.

Developed and continuously enhanced by the World Customs Organization (WCO), the HS consists of over 1,200 four-digit headings grouped in 97 chapters, which are arranged into 21 sections. Most of the headings are further subdivided into five-digit or six-digit subheadings. In total, the Harmonized System comprises about 5,000 commodity groups, each identified by a six-digit code (HS Code). HS Codes are identical in different countries, provided the latter apply the same version of the HS. The classification of goods into HS-based nomenclatures generally follows the same principles. In trade practice, however, it may not be necessarily the same.

In an interval of usually five years, the Harmonized System is kept up to date reflecting changes in technology or in international trade volumes. The last amendment became effective in 2017 when the sixth revision of the HS replaced the former version referred to as HS 2012. However, the actual implementation of the current HS version (HS 2017) as well as the adaptation of related non-tariff measures may take place at varying points in time in different countries.

Requirements for Import Formalities

The Canadian Government has established the so-called BizPaL online portal, which offers access to information on permits, licences and other requirements to be fulfilled in order to establish and operate businesses. Importers may thus generate a checklist of requirements by selecting the location, type and intended activities of their business and thereby obtain information on the necessary federal, provincial, territorial and municipal endorsements, the competent government bodies and the procedural details. The portal may be accessed free of charge at: www.bizpal.ca.

In general, import documents should be prepared in English or French. The majority of Canadian application forms are either bilingual or available in both languages. Québec, however, may request to use only French.

The Canadian Border Service Agency (CBSA) provides a range of service options to established importers which aim at facilitating the clearance procedures. Many of these initiatives involve EDI as a replacement of paper submission. The procedure for becoming an EDI user depends on the kind of commercial operator and the data to be submitted or received. Please refer to the document Registration as EDI Client.

Not only in view of the periodic amendments of the HS, commodity codes and related descriptions included in commercial documents should always contain a reference to the nomenclature basis, e.g. HS 2012 or HS 2017 (please refer to the section on the Harmonized System above). In case the commodity codes indicated go beyond the six-digit level of the HS and refer to the tariff nomenclature of the destination country, these codes should be adjusted with the importer.

Exporters should bear in mind that besides officially required documentation, additional necessities may result from contractual agreements with the importer. If a sales contract or a letter of credit (L/C) stipulates that particular documents are to be supplied by the exporter, their provision constitutes an obligation, regardless of official requirements. Moreover, customs or further authorities may request additional documentation if they consider the information given in the customary documentation as insufficient or doubtable. Besides necessities of the authorities, importers or forwarders, requirements for import documentation are also influenced by trade practice.

Incoterms®

Responsibilities of sellers and buyers concerning the delivery of goods under international sales contracts are frequently defined by the so-called International Commercial Terms (Incoterms®). As created by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), the Incoterms® constitute authoritative rules for the allotment of costs and risks to the parties of sales contracts. On the basis of the determination of how costs are allocated to the parties, Incoterms® are also used for purposes of customs valuation. The commercial terms used in contracts or trade documents may, however, base on previous versions (e.g. Incoterms® 2010). In general, it is advisable to refer to a specific edition when Incoterms® are included into the concerned documents. On 1 January 2020, the current 2020 edition came into effect.

The edition of the Incoterms® 2020 stipulates the following eleven rules:

  • ... for sea transport (and inland waterways):

    • Free alongside Ship: FAS

    • Free on Board: FOB

    • Cost and Freight: CFR

    • Cost, Insurance and Freight: CIF

  • ... for any mode(s) of transport:

    • Ex Works: EXW

    • Free Carrier: FCA

    • Carriage paid to: CPT

    • Carriage and Insurance paid to: CIP

    • Delivered at Place: DAP

    • Delivered at Place Unloaded: DPU

    • Delivered Duty paid: DDP

The former rule DAT has been renamed to DPU, which defines that the place of destination could be any place, not merely a terminal.

If the DDP rule is used, the exporter is responsible for the customs and import clearance of the goods. The importer, however, is required to assist the exporter in obtaining official authorisations where applicable. Therefore, this term should not be used if the exporter is not in the position to either directly or indirectly arrange for the clearance of the commodities.

Currency and Payments

The official currency in Canada is the Canadian Dollar (CAD), which is freely convertible. Bank notes and coins may be imported without restriction, but amounts greater than 10,000 CAD or its equivalent value must be reported to the Canadian customs authorities.

As the first phase of the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) Assessment Revenue Management Project (CARM), which is to be gradually implemented by 2020, the Accounts Receivable Ledger (ARL) was implemented on 25 January 2016. The ARL enables importers and brokers with account security (ASEC) for release prior to payment privileges (RPP) to make revenue payments electronically via the electronic date interchange (EDI) or via online banking. The ARL also provides users with the options to receive daily notices (DNs) and monthly statements of accounts (SOAs).

Wood Packaging

Canada has adopted the standards approved by the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) for the movement of wood packaging material (WPM), i.e. the International Standard for Phytosanitary Measures (ISPM) No. 15. According to these regulations, wood packaging must be heat-treated or fumigated with methyl bromide and be marked with the IPPC logo. As an alternative to this mark, the WPM may also be accompanied by a respective Phytosanitary Certificate.

Consignments containing wood packaging may be subjected to an inspection by the Canada Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) to determine if the requirements are met. Importers must pay all costs arising from this inspection.

Non-compliant WPM will be ordered to be removed from Canada and may have to be fumigated with methyl bromide before its removal. Such costs are to be borne by the entity having custody of the non-compliant WPM.

Country of Origin Marking

In general, the Canadian marking requirements vary depending on whether the goods are of NAFTA origin or non-NAFTA origin, but in either case a country of origin marking with letters of a size not smaller than 1.6 mm is obligatory for the following kinds of goods:

  • various goods for personal or household use (e.g. bakeware, batteries, clocks, dishes, electronic equipment, knives, etc.)

  • hardware (e.g. caps made of metal, electronic tubes, iron and steel pipes or tubes, glass in panes or sheets, etc.)

  • novelties and sporting goods (e.g. bicycles, toys and games, gift wrappings, etc.)

  • paper products

  • apparel

  • various horticultural products (e.g. tubers, bulbs, etc.).

If any further country name appears on the goods which may be mistook for the country of origin, the latter is to be supplemented with the expression "made in", "produced in", "printed in" or any other suitable expression to avoid misunderstandings.

In the case of non-NAFTA goods, the country of origin refers to the country in which the goods were substantially produced, i.e. where the majority of the manufacturing took place. For goods imported from NAFTA countries, the country of origin implies the country where goods were either wholly obtained or produced, produced exclusively from domestic materials, where the material was produced which provides for the essential character of the goods, or where foreign materials were used to change the specific tariff classification of the goods.

Non-NAFTA goods must be marked in English or French, NAFTA goods and goods originating in Honduras may be marked in English, French or Spanish.

In general, goods must have been marked prior to their importation. In particular cases, however, marking is permissible upon arrival if this is approved and supervised by the customs authorities.

The point of sale packaging is additionally to be marked in cases where the marking on the product itself is concealed by such packaging.

Certain goods, e.g. iron and steel pipes and tubes, ornamental products, are subject to specific requirements with regard to the manner of marking.

Goods which are packaged in a container that is marked with the origin as well as goods, the ultimate purchaser of which knows the country of origin without necessary marking, e.g. by reason of character or circustames of importation, are exempt from country of origin marking requirements.

Exemptions to country of origin marking may exist for other particular reasons as well, e.g. for crude substances, original works of art, goods incapable of being marked due to their nature or possible injuries or impairments, goods intended as donations or gifts, used goods, antiques produced more than 20 years prior to importation, goods intended to undergo substantial changes or processing prior to their sale.

Further information on country of origin marking requirements and exemptions therefrom may be obtained from the regional Trade Operations Division offices under the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA). Moreover, importers may request a customs ruling on the country of origin marking to the CBSA prior to the intended importation to find out whether marking is required for the good in question, which country of origin must be indicated and what the acceptable manner of marking is in that specific case.

The country of origin labelling on the merchandise and/or its packaging should correspond to the origin stated on the commercial documents. It should be borne in mind that any indication of a country on the commodity itself may be valued as a declaration of origin. In case of any doubts, it is advisable to contact the importer.

Other Canadian government departments may require specific country of origin labelling requirements, depending on the specific regulations for the goods to be imported. For further information on labelling requirements, please also see the chapter below.

Labelling Requirements

In general, the labelling of products should be bilingual (English and French). Special labelling requirements apply to a number of products.

Consumer Products

In general, prepackaged consumer products are to show the following details on the principal display panel:

  • net quantity

  • common/generic name or function in order to identify the product

  • further product-specific details if and as required in accordance with the Canadian Consumer Product Safety Act and its Regulations

  • name and address of the manufacturer, producer, processor, retailer, importer, packer or seller (on any part of the label); in case of imported products wholly manufactured outside of Canada, this information must consist of one of the following:

    • name and address of the Canadian dealer in combination with the statement "imported by/importé par" or "imported for/importé pour"

    • geographic origin close to the statement on the Canadian dealer

    • name and address of the dealer outside Canada.

Depending on the type of consumer products, specific labelling requirements, including, e.g., applicable hazard warnings, may apply.

By way of example, toys packaged in flexible film bags must contain the following warning statement in both official languages of Canada: "Plastic bags can be dangerous. To avoid danger of suffocation, keep this bag away from babies and children". Similarly, toys with magnetic components must bear the following statement on the kit's container and instructions: "Warning! Not suitable for children under 8 years of age. This kit contains small magnets. Swallowed magnets can stick together across intestines causing serious injuries. Seek immediate medical attention if a magnet may have been swallowed".

For further information on labelling requirements for specific consumer goods, it is advisable to contact the Consumer Product Safety Directorate as follows: Health Canada, Consumer Product Safety Directorate, Product Safety Programme, Health Canada, 269 Laurier Avenue West, 4908B, CA-Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 0K9, phone number: +1 613 9521014, fax number: +1 613 9522551.

Foodstuffs

The labels of food products must include, either on the foodstuff itself or on its container if pre-packaged, the following information:

  • name and principal place of business of the person by whom the product was manufactured, prepared, produced, stored, packaged and/or labelled

  • name and principal place of business of the person for whom the product was manufactured, prepared, produced, stored, packaged and/or labelled

  • the expressions "Imported by" ("importé par") or "Imported for" ("importé pour") or the geographic origin

  • common name of the product (except if prepackaged fresh apples packaged in such manner that the name of their variety is clearly shown on the label)

  • grade name

  • net quantity (in numerical count, by volume in case of liquid, gas or viscous food or by weight in case of solid foods)

  • weight (in metric units)

  • list of ingredients and their components by their common names (in descending order of proportion by weight), including food additives (e.g. caffeine)

  • declaration of the sources of common food allergens, gluten sources and added sulphites which are present in prepackaged foodstuffs

  • identification of the plant source of the ingredients, if applicable (recommended information)

  • nutritional information

  • indication of imitation, artificial or simulated flavouring ingredients contained in the product, if the ingredients are not derived from natural substances (i.e. meat, fish, poultry, fruits, vegetables, edible yeast, herbs, spices, bark, buds, roots leaves or other plant material)

  • pictorial representation suggesting that natural food flavours correspond to the added flavouring ingredients, if applicable

  • the word "classified" or "classed" ("classifié" or "classé"), if applicable

  • total net quantity and number of individually packaged foods in each class of food, in case of a consumer packaged food consisting of several individually packaged foods

  • shelf life.

These requirements do not, however, apply to confections that are sold individually (i.e. one-bite confections), fresh fruits or vegetables that are packaged in wrappers or confining bands of less than 13 milimetres in width or in protective wrappers or protective bags that are transparent and on which no information is shown other than the price, bar code, number code, environmental statement or product treatment symbol.

Depending on the particular kind of foodstuffs, further requirements must be met. By way of example, in the case of prepackaged foodstuffs containing eggs or maple syrup, the size designation of eggs that are graded Grade A or, as respectively applicable, the colour class of maple syrup that is graded Grade A is to be indicated. Labels of meat products must have been registered before importation. In case of genetically engineered foods, a respective statement on the label is only voluntary, to date. Specific labelling requirements also apply to pre-packaged cheese and dairy products, eggs, processed egg products, fresh fruits and vegetables, honey, maple products, fish (as detailed below), edible meat products as well as livestock and poultry carcasses. These may be consulted in the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations (SFCR), which came into force on 15 January 2019. Besides said Regulations, the Regulations Amending the Food and Drug Regulations (Nutrition Labelling, Other Labelling Provisions and Food Colours), which were promulgated in December 2016, are equally binding. Certain provisions of these Regulations became effective immediately at said time, while the remaining provisions will be implemented gradually in three phases during a five-year transition period. Consequently, members of the industry have until 14 December 2021 to comply with the new stipulations at the latest. Until then, either the former or the new Regulations may be applied. The new stipulations concern changes to the nutrition facts table, the listing of sugar-based ingredients, the listing of food colours by their common names, the reference of serving sizes and of container amounts, inter alia. For specific details thereon, importers should seek advice from the CFIA.

Fish Products

Fish containers must additionally display the place and date of packing and the country of origin. Each tin of fish must bear a mark that identifies the place and date of processing and particulars of the species. Labels of fish and fish products must include the following details:

  • common name of the product

  • weight (in metric units)

  • complete list of ingredients in descending order of proportion or proportion of each ingredient, including all additives used

  • name and address of the distributor

  • name of the country of origin

  • class designation

  • size designation

  • indication whether fish was manufactured or prepared by mincing, flaking, from selected parts of fish or by another special process, in case of fish contained in hermetically sealed packages (as part of the common name)

  • indication whether fish is intended for dietetic use, in case of fish contained in hermetically sealed packages (as part of the common name)

  • net quantity, in case of fish contained in hermetically sealed packages

  • drained weight, in case of fish or fillets (in particular mackerel) that are packaged in hermetically sealed packages without the addition of water, brine or vinegar solution, if the drained weight is less than 80% of the net quantity

  • the following specific indications (or their equivalent in French), respective of the type of product, e.g.:

    • "skinless" or "boneless", as applicable, in case of salmon contained in hermetically sealed packages

    • "minced" or "salmon tips", in case of minced salmon, trimmings from the tail or nape sections or other small pieces contained in hermetically sealed packages

    • "dry pack", in case of unfrozen lobster meat that has been packaged without the addition of brine

    • descriptive term declaring that the product is manufactured or prepared from minced fish, in case of fish sticks, fish fingers and other uniform rectangular portions of breaded fish flesh prepared from minced fish

    • date of processing and expression, code or identifier clarifying the area of harvesting, in case of bivalve molluscs in the shell

    • "white meat tuna", "white tuna", "light meat tuna", "light tuna", "dark meat tuna" or "dark tuna", as applicable, in case of tuna contained in hermetically sealed packages

    • "split fish", "split fish with entire backbone", "fillet" or similar expression to describe the processing, in case of salted fish

    • "slack salted fish", "light salted fish", "dried heavy salted fish" or "green heavy salted fish" to describe the salt or moisture content of salted fish.

Beverages

Bottled mineral or spring water is to display the following details on its label:

  • the word "carbonated" ("gazéifiée"), if applicable

  • geographical location of the source of the water

  • total dissolved mineral salt content

  • total fluoride ion content

  • addition of fluoride or ozone, if any.

Bottled water other than mineral or spring water is to comply with particular specifications:

  • complete list of ingredients

  • specification of any treatment (except for filtration, decantation, chlorination, addition of an ingredient which is included in the list of ingredients), if any.

Caffeine contained in beverages is to be included as a food additive in the list of ingredients. A voluntary statement on the amount of caffeine contained is recommended by Health Canada because regulations exist as to the maximum level of caffeine which is allowed in beverages (e.g. 200 ppm for cola-type products and 150 ppm for other drinks). Depending thereon, an additional marketing authorisation may have to be obtained from the responsible authority.

In case of alcoholic beverages, besides information which is also generally required on food labels (i.e. common name, net quantity, name and address of the Canadian dealer, list of ingredients and, in some cases, shelf life), particular stipulations exist for the product labels:

For alcoholic beverages containing more than 1.1% alcohol by volume, the statement of this percentage by volume in combination with such determination is to be shown on the principal display panel. Wine (except if bottled before 1979) may only be sold in prescribed bottle sizes. The generally required nutritional information is only mandatory for alcoholic beverages with an alcohol content of less than 0.5%. In case of particular beverages, an origin claim is mandatory (e.g. for brandy wholly distilled outside of Canada or for all standardised wine products). As regards age claims, specific regulations exist (for brandy, gin, rum and whisky). The use of the terms "dry" and "light" is also specifically regulated.

Organic Products

If labels of foodstuffs are intended to bear the indication "organic", "organically grown", "organically raised" or "organically produced", prior certification by a certification body accredited by the CFIA is required. Furthermore, in the case of a multi-ingredient product, the organic content must be at least 95%. If the percentage of organic ingredients is between 70% and 95%, the product may state this number by the declaration "contains x% organic ingredients". If less than 70% of the ingredients are organic, no certification is required and such determination is allowed to be included only in the list of ingredients.

Furthermore, the following details must be contained on the respective food label:

  • identification of the organic contents as "organic ingredients" in the list of ingredients in percentage of contents or in words, numbers, signs or symbols indicating the percentage, in case of multi-ingredient products

  • name of the certification body or of the entity accredited by the country of origin

  • country of origin

  • expression "Product of" or "Imported".

Please be aware that Canada may enter into agreements or arrangements with other countries as regards the importation of organic products; specific stipulations already exist, e.g., for the trade of organic foodstuffs with the United States. A further agreement with the EU acknowledges the EU organic standards as being equivalent to the Canadian regulations and provides for the mutual recognition of the respective organic logos.

Cosmetics and Medical Products

Depending on the composition and/or proposed use of the product, it is being classified either as a cosmetic or a drug. The legal stipulations do not involve the possibility that a good is categorised as both a cosmetic and a drug (in case of doubt as to the correct classification, it is recommendable to contact the responsible authority).

Cosmetics must comply with the Canadian labelling regulations and display the following information:

  • identity of the product (common name or description of its function)

  • net quantity in metric units of measurement (e.g. weight, volume, number of items)

  • name and address of the person responsible for the product in Canada, e.g. the importer

  • directions, warning, cautions or hazard symbols, if applicable

  • ingredients.

For drugs, different labelling standards are specified for each kind of drug, so that the contacting of the responsible authority for further details is recommended.

Labels of natural health products must show the following information:

  • On the principle display panel:

    • brand name and product name

    • dosage form

    • the word "sterile", if applicable

    • net amount.

  • On any panel:

    • names and addresses of the importer and the holder of the Product Licence from the Natural Health Products Directorate

    • common and proper names as well as quantity per dosage unit of each medicinal ingredient

    • source material of each medicinal ingredient

    • recommended use, route of administration, dose and duration of use

    • risk information

    • list of all non-medicinal ingredients

    • (recommended) storage conditions, as applicable

    • lot number

    • expiration date

    • security feature, as applicable

    • quantity of mercury contained, if any.

In the case of medical devices to be imported or sold in Canada, the following details are obligatory:

  • name of the product

  • name and address of the manufacturer

  • identifier of the device

  • control number (only required for class III or IV devices)

  • description of the content of the package (if not readily apparent)

  • the word "sterile" (if the device is to be sold in a sterile condition)

  • expiry date

  • medical conditions, purposes and uses of the products (if not self-evident)

  • directions for use (if necessary)

  • special storage conditions.

Fertilisers

The labels of fertiliser packages must display the following details:

  • name and address of the manufacturer or the registrant

  • brand name of the fertiliser, if applicable

  • name of the fertiliser

  • number of the certificate of Registration of Fertilisers

  • details of the analysis

  • weight of the fertiliser (in metric units)

  • directions for use (only required for fertiliser-pesticides)

  • security advice (only required for fertilisers containing boron, copper, manganese, molybdenum or zinc).

Textiles

In general, labels of all textile articles must or may include the following information:

  • textile fibre content by its generic name (and, voluntarily, the registered trade mark)

  • country of origin

  • name and address of the dealer (may be substituted by the dealer's CA identification number, which may be applied for by dealers resident in Canada at the Competition Bureau, 50 Victoria Street, CA-Gatineau, Quebec, K1A 0C9, phone numbers: +1 800 3485358, 819 9974282, fax number: +1 819 9970324)

  • information on the size (voluntary)

  • cleaning instructions (voluntary).

For particular kinds of textiles, additional labelling requirements may apply, e.g. for reasons of health and consumer safety, which may moreover vary depending on the respective provincial jurisdiction.

It is recommendable to seek advice on the specific labelling requirements from the competent Canadian authorities.

Energy-using products

An EnerGuide label informing on the energy consumption of electrical goods is required for particular products. Please see the document entitled Energy Efficiency Report for further details.