Importing regulations

Importing is a regulated process. If you wish to buy products from other countries, you will need to comply with a variety of regulations.

The importing process can often seem overwhelming, due to the amount of paperwork and the number of different rules and regulations that you need to consider. This document provides you with the guidance you need to navigate this process when buying goods from other countries.

Registering for an import/export account

Before you start importing, you must register your business for an import/export account.

  • Business Number (BN)
    Your Business Number is your single account number for dealing with the government regarding GST/HST, payroll, import/export and other activities.

Navigating the border

There is nothing worse than having your goods turned away at the border or being held up at customs because you didn't complete the proper paperwork. Before you place your import order, be sure that you understand the rules and regulations involved in clearing your goods through customs.

You must:

  • Determine if the goods you want to import are prohibited from entering Canada
  • Determine if the goods are subject to any restrictions that would require you to obtain approvals or permits before importing them
  • Know how to classify the goods (tariff classification) and how any tariffs, duties or taxes are calculated
  • Ensure that your supplier meets all Canadian labelling and marking requirements
  • Ensure that you use a shipping company that understands and complies with customs formalities
  • Make sure that all required paperwork is ready to be examined along with your shipment
  • Be prepared to pay the duties and taxes owing.

All of this information and more can be found in the Step-by-Step guide to Importing Commercial Goods into Canada:

Warehousing or storing your shipment

When you are bringing goods across the border, you have the option of moving them to a facility that is convenient to you, before they clear customs. The goods remain under the control of the Canada Border Services Agency while being stored. There are several different options for storing your goods.

Additional information

Complying with importing regulations is essential, but you may also want to read about policies and programs that may make it easier for you to import or save money on duties and tariffs.

  • Simplifying trade
    Learn about programs that improve the flow of goods through the border or that save you from paying duties.
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