The basics of reporting commercial exports

This overview describes the basic information you’ll need and the steps to follow if you plan to export goods from Canada to other countries, including the United States.

Goods requiring an export declaration

In most cases, you need to submit an export declaration to export commercial goods from Canada. Meanwhile, there are situations where no export declaration is required. The most common exceptions are:

Refer to the List of goods that do not need an export declaration.

Goods requiring additional documentation

Additional documentation may be required by other government departments for your goods to be exported. Refer to the Commodities that may require export permits to determine if additional requirements apply to your goods and for more information.

If your goods require an export permit, you must present a paper copy of the export declaration and a paper copy of the permit at the place specified in the permit authorizing the exportation. If no place is specified in that permit, present the documents at the export reporting office located closest to the place of exit of the goods from Canada.

If you are exporting restricted goods to the United States, you will not need an export declaration but will still be required to present a paper permit at the place specified in the permit authorizing the exportation. If no place is specified in that permit, present the documents at the export reporting office located closest to the place of exit of the goods from Canada.

How to submit an export declaration

Step 1: Get a valid business number

You need a valid business number with an export or import/export designated account before you can submit an export declaration.

To confirm you have a valid business number, or to get one assigned to your business, call the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) at 1-800-959-5525 or consult How to register for a business number (CRA).

Step 2: Find out when to submit

Export declarations and related permits generally need to be submitted in the following timeframes:

Step 3: Select your reporting method

There are 3 methods currently available to submit export declarations:

If you are unsure which method is right for you, the CBSA recommends you use the Canadian Export Reporting System (CERS).

If you are an existing Canadian Automated Export Declaration (CAED) client, you may have an invalid RM business number (BN). An invalid BN will lead to the loss of existing associations and you will be required to register for the Canadian Export Reporting System (CERS). To use CERS, you need a valid BN that’s designated for exports. CAED clients should contact CRA to ensure their BN is valid.

Important Note: If you’ve submitted an export declaration in the last 2 years using CAED, you’ve received a letter containing a unique “Activation code” between February and April 2020. This Activation Code allows you to create a business account in the new CERS online portal to submit export declarations.

Legislative context

The Customs Act requires goods being exported from Canada to be reported. The 3 main objectives of export reporting are to:

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