Exporting goods from Canada: A handy guide

This guide (previously called "Step-by-Step Guide to Exporting Commercial Goods from Canada") provides an overview of the process for businesses exporting commercial goods from Canada, with a focus on the exporter's reporting obligations.  The guide is intended to complement, not replace, existing legislation, regulations, and references detailed in Memoranda Series D1 to D22.

Note: Exporters looking for a comprehensive reference guide, which addresses a broader scope of export-related subjects, should read the Step-by-Step Guide to Exporting. Developed by The Canadian Trade Commissioner Service (TCS), the Step-by-Step Guide to Exporting is a reference tool for Canadian businesses currently active or interested in exploring business opportunities in international markets.

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

As an exporter, you have to report your goods

Goods being exported from Canada are required by the Customs Act to be reported. The three main objectives of export reporting are to:

Canada has a responsibility to ensure that goods entering the international market from this country do not pose a security threat to other countries.

The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) export program:

Who is the exporter?

The exporter is the party responsible for causing the goods to be exported and the holder of the business number (BN). The identities and the responsibilities of parties involved in the sale/purchase/export transaction should clearly be identified. This should not be confused with the carriers, customs service providers, or other parties involved in the transportation arrangements.

The exporter, who can be a non-resident, is responsible for completing the export declaration and submitting it to the CBSA.  The exporter may delegate this to a third party such as a customs service provider.  When a third party prepares the export declaration on the exporter's behalf, the exporter of record (whose name and BN are on the export declaration) remains liable for ensuring that true and accurate information is provided to the CBSA within the required time frames.

Any penalties resulting from submitting an incomplete, inaccurate, or late export declaration will be assessed against the owner of the BN, listed as the exporter of record.

For more information, refer to the Reporting of Exported Goods Regulations and the "Who Must Report Goods for Export?" section of Memorandum D20-1-1, Export Reporting.

Exporting your goods

Preparing to export

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 account 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 RM account identifier to an existing BN:

Identify the 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 restricted (i.e. regulated, controlled, or prohibited) and/or if a permit or license is required.

Determine the country of origin for the goods you are exporting

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

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

Ensure the goods are permitted to be exported from Canada

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

More information about export controls can be found on the Global Affairs Canada Web site.

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

The CBSA is responsible for administering certain export requirements on behalf of other government departments. Permits, certificates or licenses may be required when exporting certain goods from Canada. The CBSA's Other Government Department and Agencies: Reference List for Exporters can help you identify the appropriate department or agency for permit enquiries, if applicable.

It is the exporter's responsibility to ensure that the goods meet all requirements under the law. Failure to do so could result in fines, detention and/or seizure of the goods by the CBSA.

A list of other government department requirements can be found in Memoranda Series D19, Acts and Regulations of Other Government Departments.

Ensure that the goods you are exporting are allowed entry into the destination country

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

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

Determining if you need an export declaration

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 the 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" (or "NDR") with the proper explanation or corresponding numerical code on the transport documentation (cargo control document, manifest, bill of lading, etc.).

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)
*Additional exemptions may apply. Refer to Memorandum D20-1-1, Export Reporting.
Restricted Goods
(i.e., regulated, controlled, or prohibited goods - regardless of value).

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

Export declaration is not required

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

Export declaration is required

Non-Restricted Goods
(i.e., goods that do not require a permit under any Act of Parliament)
Export declaration is not required

Export declaration is required (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 restricted, you must present a paper copy of your export declaration, together with the accompanying permit, certificate, or license to the CBSA at the Designated Export Office that is indicated on the permit. If no office is indicated, at the office that is located nearest to the place of export.

Even if you are exporting restricted goods to the U.S. that are exempt from export reporting requirements, you are still required to present your permit, certificate, or license to the CBSA at the Designated Export Office located nearest to the place of export.

Goods transiting through the U.S. to a subsequent international destination must be reported on an export declaration. Because the ultimate destination of the goods is a country other than the U.S., they must be reported if their value is CAN$2,000 or more, or any value if the goods are restricted. In addition, any goods entering the U.S. on a transportation and exportation entry (T & E) bond (i.e. in transit) require an export declaration.

Classifying your exports

If you require an export declaration, determine the appropriate export classification code

Once you have determined that the goods may be exported and that you need to submit an 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.

If you are using 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-digit Canadian 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

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

If you are required to report your export to the CBSA, you must do so prior to export and according to specific timeframes depending on the mode of transportation used to export the goods from Canada. The minimum timeframe for reporting:

Determine where to report your goods

Non-Restricted Goods are to be reported at a Designated Export Office located inland or at the border. However, for Restricted Goods, you must present any export permit, license or certificate and the export declaration (if required), at the place of exit specified on the permit, license or certificate, before the goods are exported.

If the permit, license or certificate does not name a place of exit, you must present the permit, license or certificate and the export declaration (if required) to the designated export office located closest to the place of exit.

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 bulk or homogenous 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 may only be reported via Summary Reporting program (SRP) if the exporter has obtained and provided the CBSA with:

B13A, Export Declaration:  When the use of CAED or G7 EDI is neither feasible nor practical, the exporter can use the Form B13A, Export Declaration. The export declaration must be submitted to a designated export reporting office. If the goods are restricted, the exporter must submit the form to the Designated Export Office which is indicated on the permit or, if no office is indicated, to the office that is closest to the place of exit where the goods will leave Canada.

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.

Your goods may be examined before export

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 or handle your goods, you may receive an invoice from that company for their services.

After your goods are exported

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

An importer in the foreign country to which you are exporting goods may be entitled to claim a preferential tariff treatment and pay a lower duty rate if they have a valid certificate of origin (e.g. 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. You, as the exporter, must forward a copy of the certificate of origin to the importer and retain a copy for your records.

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

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 a designated export office clearly identifying the changes.

There are different procedures depending on the original reporting method:

Voluntary disclosures

The voluntary disclosure process encourages clients like yourself to come forward voluntarily to inform the CBSA of any past errors or omissions and make corrections in order to comply with their legal obligations.  By offering this opportunity to self-correct, you are afforded a greater level of fairness and it may result in penalties being waived.

For further information on Voluntary Disclosure, refer to Memorandum D11-6-4, Relief of Interest and/or Penalties Including Voluntary Disclosure.

Keep all records pertaining to 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.

Make sure you comply with all legislative and regulatory requirements

As an exporter, it is in your best interest to be as accurate and as thorough as possible in your export reporting. Proactively seeking guidance from federal departments that control and regulate exports will help you to understand the requirements and could help avoid costly delays at the time of export.

When the CBSA has reasonable grounds to believe that Canada's export laws have been contravened, enforcement actions may be taken, including monetary penalties, the seizure of the goods as forfeit, and the laying of criminal charges.

The CBSA is committed to working with all its clients to ensure compliance with export legislation and to facilitate exports.

Additional resources

Memorandum D20-1-1, Exporter Reporting

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

Please note that a Step-by-Step Guide to Importing Commercial Goods into Canada is also available.

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 website or call 1-800-O-Canada (1-800-622-6232).

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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