This guest blog post is provided by the Business Women in International Trade (BWIT), a program within the Trade Commissioner Service (TCS) at Global Affairs Canada, which supports Canadian women entrepreneurs as they pursue opportunities in international markets.

Whether you are new to exporting or are seeking to expand your international reach, exporting at any stage can be daunting. You may ask yourself: is it worth the risk to expand? In short, the answer is YES. According to Statistics Canada, on average, businesses that export are stronger than those that do not. The BWIT program has designed this blog post to increase your understanding of the range of regulations associated with exporting as well as direct you to key contacts which will ultimately help you reduce the risks of growing your business abroad.

Exporter rules, regulations and laws:

Understanding the rules and regulations of Canada and your target market is vital; businesses engaging in international trade need to be mindful of the rules that apply from start to finish. Although laws apply in Canada — depending on the good(s) or service(s) — including inspection certificates, export control permits, mandatory reporting of exports and export record-keeping minimums, it is also important to note that there will be local laws in your target market that will also apply to you. Standards in markets outside of Canada can include: discolours on products, language requirements on packaging, ensuring licensing is up-to-date for professional services and obtaining obligatory visas for moving individuals in and out of your target country.

Top tips for exporters:

  • Do your homework and ask the right questions to determine whether the goods or services you intend to export are subject to permits, licensing or contracting restrictions or regulations overseen by the CBSA or other Canadian government departments (OGDs). The Canada Border Services Agency (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. For information, visit CBSA's Other Government Department and Agencies: Reference List for Exporters.
  • Determine whether or not the goods need to be declared on a Canadian Export Declaration. Depending on the destination of your shipment, you could need a certificate of origin and must be mindful that certain goods are not required to be reported on an export declaration.
  • Consult key government websites in your target market. Just as it is here in Canada, your receiving market's regulatory environment will be established by government ministries or agencies. By visiting their websites you will gain insight into the local laws that must be followed as well as the established norms for that particular market — such as methods of payment and availability of insurance. While these aspects can be handled by a Canadian broker or shipping agent, familiarizing yourself with their regulations, product standards and licensing requirements is important and will help you avoid risk — and get paid.

Leveraging BWIT and the Canadian Trade Commissioner Service (TCS)

The TCS is an extensive network of trade commissioners operating in 161 offices throughout Canada and around the globe. This network provides foreign market intelligence, introductions in key networks, cost and risk reduction advice, business problem troubleshooting and valuable on-the-ground support. As a program of TCS, BWIT has access to this network so we can provide Canadian women-owned businesses with invaluable assistance when exporting into new markets. Contact us to connect at: bwit@international.gc.ca.

Step-by-step guides and detailed tips about exporting: