How To Become An Exporter In Canada

How To Become An Exporter In Canada

Exports play a crucial role in the health of the Canadian economy, accounting for nearly 33% of GDP in 2019 – that’s around $450 billion worth of products!

Here’s a breakdown of Canada’s top 10 exports, per World Exports:

# Export USD (Billions)
1 Mineral fuels (including oil) $98.4
2 Vehicles $61.4
3 Machinery (including computers) $34.8
4 Gems & Precious Metals $21.3
5 Electrical Equipment $13.5
6 Plastics $12.7
7 Wood $11.7
8 Aircraft & Spacecraft $11.3
9 Ores, Slag & Ash $8.9
10 Pharmaceuticals $8.4

Are you thinking of starting a business with a view to exporting your products overseas? Or maybe you already have a business, and you’re looking to go global? Either way, we’ve got you covered with our step-by-step guide to exporting from Canada.

Step #1: Obtain a Business Number

Before exporting commercial goods from Canada, you will need to apply for a Business Number (BN) from the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) for an import/export account. 

This number is free of charge and can usually be set-up in a matter of minutes.

To register for a BN (or add an import/export account identifier to an existing BN):

Step #2: Verify the Eligibility of Your Goods

The next thing you’ll need to do is identify what type of goods you want to export. You must provide true and accurate information and a complete description of the goods you plan to export before proceeding.

An accurate description will assist in determining if your goods are controlled, regulated or even prohibited to be exported by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) or any other government department/agency. 

Some regulated or controlled goods may require a permit to be exported/imported. Canada’s list of banned export products includes black bear claws, gall bladder and paws.

You can read more about controlled goods and permits on the Canadian Government’s website

It’s also in your best interests to verify that your goods meet the import requirements and laws of the country you’re exporting to.

For information about the requirements of other countries, refer to:

Check out our blog: The Best Money Saving Apps For Entrepreneurs 

Step #3: Export Declaration

Once you have determined that your goods can be legally exported, you must check to see if they are subject to an export declaration. 

The table below showcases the documentation requirements for exporters from Canada:

Type of Goods

(Incl. Puerto Rico & US Virgin Islands)

All Other Destinations
(Incl. goods moving through US to foreign destinations)

Restricted Goods
(Regulated, controlled, or prohibited goods – regardless of value)

Export declaration NOT required

Permit, certificate, or license required by other government departments (if applicable)

Export declaration required

Permit, certificate, or license required by other government departments (if applicable)

Non-Restricted Goods
(Goods that do not require a permit under any Act of Parliament)

Export declaration NOT required Export declaration required for commercial goods valued at CAN $2,000 or more

If the goods you wish to export from Canada require export declaration, you must classify the goods.

Depending on your method of reporting, either the Statistics Canada eight-digit Canadian Export Classification number or the ten-digit Canadian Tariff Classification number may be used.

To obtain the eight-digit Canadian Export Classification number, Consult Canadian Export Classification on Statistics Canada’s website

To obtain the ten-digit Tariff Classification Number, Consult the Customs Tariff.

For more information on the methodology for classifying goods according to the Customs Tariff, refer to Memorandum D10-13-1, Classification of Goods.

Step #4: Shipping

If you are required to report your exports to the CBSA, you must do so prior to exporting in accordance with specific timeframes, which depend on the mode of transportation used.

The minimum timeframe for reporting is as follows:

Travel Method Timeframe
Highway Prior to export
Air Two hours before goods are loaded
Rail Two hours before goods are loaded
Mail Two hours before goods are brought to post office
Marine Forty-eight hours before goods are loaded

Non-Restricted Goods are to be reported at a Designated Export Office located inland or at the border.

For restricted goods, you must submit an export declaration by using Canadian Automated Export Declaration (CAED).

This is an electronic method of reporting exports that is available 24/7, which allows you or your agent to quickly prepare your export declarations and transmit the information directly to the Government of Canada before exportation. 

Government officials may examine your shipment to ensure compliance with CBSA requirements or other government department regulations. This examination is conducted without charge. However, if there is a need to hire a transport company to move your goods, you may receive an invoice from them for their services.

Step #5: Post Shipping

The overseas importer of your goods may be entitled to claim preferential tariff treatment and pay a lower customs duty rate if they have a valid certificate of origin. 

The certificate of origin is a signed declaration from the manufacturer of the goods that the goods are of Canadian origin and meet the requirements of a free trade agreement. As the exporter, you must forward a copy of the certificate of origin to the importer and retain a copy for your records.

You must keep all records pertaining to your exports from Canada for six years. This must be done in either electronic or paper format. For more information on the keeping of books and records pertaining to exports, consult Memorandum D20-1-5, Maintenance of Records and Books in Canada by Exporters and Producers.

Now that you’ve completed all the steps, you’re officially a Canadian exporter who is ready to take on the world!

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