E-commerce: what to consider when selling online in Canada

March 24, 2014 - Tags: E-business Sales

Planning to operate an e-commerce business? Did you know when selling online you'll need to comply with all provincial and territorial regulations where you are conducting business?

Even though you won't have a physical address in other provinces or territories, you should be aware of the requirements for selling to customers in those regions. Different parts of Canada may have different regulations for e-commerce, online sales contracts, advertising or terms and conditions of a sale.

Some of the regulations that apply to traditional businesses may also apply to your online business, such as registering your business name, copyrights and trademarks, privacy, product safety and exporting.

Be sure to look into the following:

  • Extra-provincial registration
    If you do business with clients outside the province or territory where you are registered, you may be required to register your business in their province or territory of residence as well.
  • Incorporation
    You may want to consult a professional to discuss the benefits of incorporating your online business either federally or provincially.
  • Consumer Protection Acts
    Each province and territory has its own consumer protection act, so be aware of this fact when selling to someone in another province. Find out if there are different requirements in that jurisdiction.
  • Terms and conditions for online sales
    Be as detailed and accurate as possible when setting out information regarding the terms and conditions of the sale, the price, shipping and delivery charges, method of payment, warranties, exchanges and refunds. Have your clients accept the terms and conditions to ensure they have read them. An Internet sales harmonization template is available to help you comply with some of the requirements for your Internet sales contract.
  • Taxes
    If you're selling to an out-of-province client, it's important to know how and when to charge sales taxes (GST, HST and PST). Ideally, your e-commerce platform should be set up to automatically add the correct amount of tax, but you should test to make sure it is up-to-date and verify that it is accurately set up.
  • Anti-spam laws
    Find out about obtaining consent before sending promotional material to your current or potential clients, how the unsubscribe function works or what you can and cannot do when conducting marketing activities.

Being aware of the requirements that apply to selling your product or service online may help you reduce the risk of disputes, liability, and cancellations that could happen with transactions across the country.

Learn more about e-business security, privacy and legal requirements.

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