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International convention and customs procedures of Canada

International Conventions
Member of the World Trade Organization (WTO)
Member of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)
Party to the Washington Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora
Party to the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal
Party to the Montreal Protocol on Substances That Deplete the Ozone Layer
Party to the Wassenaar Arrangement on Export Controls For Conventional Arms and Dual-Use Goods and Technologies
International Economic Cooperation
Canada is a member of the following international economic organisations: North American Competitiveness Council (NACC), OECD, Organization of American States (OAS), Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), Commonwealth, G-7, G-8, G-10, G-20, among others. For the full list of economic and other international organisations in which participates Canada click here. International organisation membership of Canada is also outlined here.
Non Tariff Barriers
The Canada Customs Act which regulates the Canadian import system, corresponds to a free trade model in which most imports do not require an authorisation. However, tariff quotas may be applied, especially for wheat, barley, beef and cheese. To be granted this quota one must request a General Import Permit, for which you must produce a pro forma invoice from the Export and Import Controls Bureau of the Ministry of Global Affairs.

Canada uses supply management systems - which involve production quotas, producer marketing boards to regulate price and supply, and border protection achieved through tariff-rate quotas (TRQs) - to regulate its dairy, chicken, turkey and egg industries. Alcoholic beverages are subject to interprovincial shipping restrictions, and are regulated differently in each province, for example through sales quotas, requirements for in-province agents and specific labelling. The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) imposes quotas that determine both the minimum Canadian programming expenditure (CPE) and the minimum amount of Canadian programming that licensed Canadian broadcasters must carry (Exhibition Quota).

Some goods are prohibited, especially importing second hand motorised vehicles, except for vehicles coming from the USA (the rules are becoming more flexible for Mexico), as well as weapons, munitions, nuclear materials and goods of a similar nature. Health Canada restricts the marketing of breakfast cereals and other products, such as orange juice, that are fortified with vitamins and/or minerals at certain levels. Processed Products Regulations prescribe standard container sizes for a wide range of processed fruit and vegetable products.

The rules of origin allowing reduction of duties, especially for textiles, have been draconian since the agreements within the CUSMA. These rules are considerably favourable to products which have proof of their origin in the USA.

Moreover, Canada is one of the biggest users of anti-dumping measures, with more than 85 products concerned (SIMA, Special Import Measures Act). These measures affect 35 countries or Customs areas (including the EU, for example). More than 50% of the products concerned are metallurgical.

For further information about import regulations and procedures in Canada, please consult the article Importing Goods into Canada produced by the Canada Border Services Agency.

Customs Duties and Taxes on Imports
The average rate is about 5%.

To know the Customs tariff in Canada, consult the article Customs Tariff produced by the Canada Border Services Agency.

Customs Classification
The Customs Tariff is based on the World Customs Organization's (WCO) Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System (HS).
Import Procedures
Before importing commercial goods into Canada, the importer will need to obtain a Business Number (BN) issued by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) for an import/export account.
For imported goods to clear Customs, the following documents are needed: properly completed Canada Customs Invoice or its equivalent; form B3 customs coding form, cargo control document and bill of landing. Certain goods such as food or health-related items may be subject to the requirements of other federal government departments and may need permits, certificates, or inspections.

For information on importing commercial goods into Canada, consult the Canada Border Services Agency's guide to importing.

For further information, consult the Canada Border Services Agency website.
Importing Samples
For import, export and re-export of commercial samples the ATA carnet is generally used. It must be written on the product that it is a free sample and that it may not be sold.

To go further, check out our service Import controls and Export controls.

For Further Information
Canada Border Services Agency
Global Affairs Canada

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Latest Update: April 2024

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