Guide for Small Business Importers to Canada

Canada and the United States enjoy a thriving and brisk import-export industry. Both countries benefit exponentially as trading partners. According to the Office of the US Trade Representative, Canada was the largest good trading partner of the US with $616 billion trade in 2012. Canada was the US’s second largest supplier of goods import for 2012.

In this regard it is best to know the processes involved in importing. Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) which make up a large chunk of the export and import market would benefit from a guideline on best practices in trading.

Those who plan to import goods into Canada cannot do so without acquiring a business registration. A business license/ number can be obtained from the Canada Revenue Agency for an import-export account. Next, the goods that will be imported need to be identified. An accurate description is needed of everything which would include details like the country of origin and where they were manufactured. Prohibited items are not allowed entry in the Canada.

Prohibited Items. These items include the following: obscene or pornographic materials, treasonable or hate propaganda; used or second-hand automobiles except those coming from the US; used or second-hand aircraft; counterfeit money; certain birds, aigrets, egret, plumes and other feathers; used or second-hand mattresses; items made by prisoners; Canadian work reprints protected by copyright; and matches made with white phosphorus.

Restricted Items. Meanwhile, some products are restricted though they are not totally prohibited. Examples of these are alcoholic products, automobiles, controlled imports such as agricultural and steel products, textile and apparel, weapons and ammunition; drugs such as medication; endangered animals and plants; energy-using products; explosives; firearms, weapons and devices; food and hazardous products.

SMEs should also be aware of the labeling and marking requirements of their imported goods. Labels are issued by government agencies like the Competition Bureau, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and Health Canada. Products for import should be properly labeled before they leave the country of export. Meanwhile, all imports should properly identify the country of origin.

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