Step-by-Step Guide to Exporting Commercial Goods from Canada

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This guide provides you with an overview of the commercial exporting process for businesses exporting goods from Canada. It is intended to complement and not replace existing regulations, acts and references detailed in Memoranda Series D1 to D22.

A Step-by-Step Guide to Importing Commercial Goods into Canada is also available.

Preparing to Export

1. Obtain a Business Number.

Before exporting commercial goods from Canada, as a business or an individual, you will need to obtain a Business Number (BN) issued by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) for an import/export account. This import/export account is free of charge and can usually be obtained in a matter of minutes.

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

2. Identify the goods you want to export.

You must have an accurate description of the goods you plan to export before proceeding. An accurate description will help you determine if your goods are regulated, controlled or prohibited by other government departments or if a permit or licence is required. The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) assists other government departments and agencies (OGDs) by applying their legislation relating to the exportation of various commodities.

3. Determine the country of origin for the goods you are exporting.

The origin of goods to be exported can affect permit requirements. For example:

  • An Individual Export Permit is required for United States origin goods exported to Iran, Cuba, Syria and countries on the Area Control List. Presently, Belarus and the Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea are on the Area Control List.
  • A General Export Permit is required to export United States origin goods with a value of $2,000 or more to all other destinations.
  • A permit is not required to export United States origin goods back into the United States.

Refer to Memoranda Series D11, General Tariff Information for more information on origin.

4. Ensure the goods are permitted to be exported from Canada.

Certain goods cannot be exported from Canada. A few examples include:

More information on export controls can be found on the Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada Web site.

5. Determine whether the goods you intend to export are subject to any permits, restrictions or regulations by the CBSA or other government departments.

Some goods may be subject to the requirements of other government departments and may require permits, certificates, and inspection. The CBSA is responsible for administering export requirements on behalf of OGDs.

It should be noted that more than one government department may have a role to play in the requirements and regulations pertaining to the export of certain goods; it is therefore beneficial to contact any that may play a role.

Please refer to the CBSA’s Other Government Department and Agencies: Reference List for Exporters.

Verify whether the goods you want to export are controlled, regulated or prohibited by any government department or agency. Obtain an export permit if required.

A complete listing of OGD requirements can be found in Memoranda Series D19, Acts and Regulations of Other Government Departments.

6. Ensure that the goods you are exporting are allowed entry into the receiving country.

It is in your best interest to verify that your products meet the import requirements of the receiving country. For information about the requirements of other countries, refer to:

You can also have your importer contact their local government to ensure the goods comply with their import regulations.

Determining if an export declaration is required

7. Determine whether or not the goods need to be declared on an export declaration.

Certain goods are not required to be reported on an export declaration. The exempted goods are listed in sections 6 and 7 of Memorandum D20-1-0, Reporting of Exported Goods Regulations and are further explained in Memorandum D20-1-1, Export Reporting.

If your export matches one of the exemptions on the list, advise your carrier and indicate “No Declaration Required” (NDR) with the proper explanation or corresponding numerical code on the transport documentation (cargo control document, manifest, bill of lading, etc.).

Please refer to the table below for export documentation requirements.

Exporting Goods From Canada Documentation Requirements for Exporters
Type of Goods United States Destinations (includes Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands) All Other Destinations (includes goods moving through the United States to foreign destinations)
Restricted goods, i.e. controlled, regulated and prohibited goods (regardless of value).
  • Permit, certificate, or licence;
  • Documents required by other government departments (if applicable);
  • Export declaration is not required.
  • Permit, certificate, or licence;
  • Documents required by other government departments (if applicable);
  • Export declaration.
Non-restricted goods.
  • Export declaration is not required.
  • Export declaration (for commercial goods valued at CAN$2,000 or more).

If you use the Canadian Automated Export Declaration (CAED) electronic method of reporting and the goods you are exporting are controlled, prohibited, or regulated, you must also present a paper copy of an export declaration, together with the accompanying permit, certificate, or licence.

Classifying your exports

8. If an export declaration is required, determine the appropriate export code.

Once you have determined that the goods may be exported and that submitting an export declaration is required, 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 is used.

If you are using the CAED to submit your declaration, you must use the eight-digit Canadian Export Classification number.

The Canadian Export Classification number is based on an international six-digit 'root' with an additional two digits for Canadian domestic purposes for a total of eight digits.

To obtain the eight-digitCanadian Export Classification number:

To obtain the ten-digit Tariff Classification Number:

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

Shipping and reporting your goods

9. Determine the method of shipping and identify the reporting time frame for that method.

If you are required to report your export to the CBSA you are required to do so prior to export and according to specific timeframes depending on the mode of transportation used. When more than one mode of transportation is used to export goods, the timeframes for reporting in each of these modes apply concurrently.

Minimum timeframe for reporting:

  • Air – two hours before goods are loaded;
  • Highway – prior to export;
  • Marine – forty-eight hours before goods are loaded;
  • Mail – two hours before goods are brought to post office; and
  • Rail – two hours before goods are loaded.

Goods are to be reported at a designated export office located inland or at the border. Any export permit, licence or certificate must be presented before the goods are exported; the location will be specified on the permit.

If the permit, licence or certificate does not name a place of exit, the permit, licence or certificate and the export declaration (if required) must be presented to the export reporting office closest to the place of exit.

Your shipment may be examined by government officials to monitor compliance with CBSA requirements or other government department regulations. This is done without charge; however, if there is a need to hire a transport company to move or handle your goods, you may receive an invoice from that company for their services.

10. Submit an export declaration if required.

If you are required to report your exports, you must submit an export declaration by using one of the following methods:

Canadian Automated Export Declaration (CAED): An electronic method of reporting exports, which allows you or your agent to quickly prepare your export declarations and transmit the information directly to the Government of Canada before exportation. This service is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

G7 Electronic Export Declaration Process: This process allows exporters or their agents to file their export declaration using Electronic Data Interchange (EDI).

Summary Reporting: This method is reserved for approved exporters of low-risk goods who export on a regular basis and have met specific CBSA requirements. It enables you or your agent to summarize required export data, which can be submitted on a monthly basis in writing, after the goods have left Canada. Goods that are controlled, prohibited, or regulated do not qualify for this program.

B13A, Export Declaration: When electronic permit reporting options are not available; the requirement to present a paper copy of the electronic export declaration and OGD permit at the CBSA office closest to the point of exit remains unchanged using the B13A, Export Declaration.

11. Present proof of export if required.

In some cases the CBSA requires exporters to produce proof of export that the goods have been exported or have been destroyed. For example, this would apply to goods that were initially imported into Canada under a temporary importation agreement such as a Temporary Admission Permit (form E29B) or the ATA Carnet program.

After your goods are exported

12. Provide a Certificate of Origin to the receiver of the goods if requested.

An importer in the foreign country that you are exporting goods to may be entitled to claim a preferential tariff treatment and pay a lower duty rate if they have a valid certificate of origin (i.e. NAFTA 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. The exporter forwards a copy of the certificate of origin to the importer and retains a copy for his records.

For more information on certificates of origin, refer to Memorandum  D11-4-14, Certificate of Origin.

13. Procedures to follow if you need to cancel or amend an export declaration.

You may have to cancel a shipment or modify information about a shipment you already reported. If so, you must submit an amended declaration to an export reporting office clearly identifying the changes.

There are different procedures depending on the original reporting method:

CAED or G7 EDI Export Reporting – use the amend feature in the program to submit an amended declaration;

Summary Reporting – notify Statistics Canada; and

Form B13A – submit an amended Export Declaration to the export reporting office where you presented your original export document.

14. Keep all records pertaining the export for six years.

You must keep all records pertaining to your exportations for six years following the exportation of good(s) in either electronic or paper format.

For more information on the keeping of books and records pertaining to exports please consult Memorandum D20-1-5, Maintenance of Records and Books in Canada by Exporters and Producers.

15. Be aware that the CBSA uses an Administrative Monetary Penalty System (AMPS).

The CBSA uses the Administrative Monetary Penalty System (AMPS) to assess monetary penalties against businesses that do not comply with customs legislation.

Additional information

16. Become familiar with trade incentive programs.

The CBSA aims to improve the competitiveness of Canadian businesses by offering relief from the payment of most duties and taxes on imported goods that are ultimately exported, whether or not the goods are further manufactured in Canada. Further information on the CBSA’s Duty Deferral Program is available in Memoranda Series D7 Series, Drawbacks.

17. Consult the following for additional information

Designated commercial offices provide 24-hour service, seven days a week, for the reporting and clearing of commercial goods.

To obtain CBSA publications, refer to CBSA Forms and Publications. You may also order publications by visiting the Government of Canada Publications Web site.

For information on other federal departments and agencies involved in the commercial exporting process, visit the CBSA’s Other Government Departments and Agencies: Reference List for Exporters or visit the Canada site or call 1-800-O-Canada (1-800-622-6232).

An overview of this guide is available: Checklist for Exporting Commercial Goods.

If you have any questions related to the CBSA’s requirements for exporting, feel free to contact the Border Information Service (BIS).


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