Import into Canada The Right Way

Almost anything can be imported into Canada, provided you comply with the conditions set by the government. Importing is a regulated process so being in compliance with the law is extremely important.


In order to start importing goods into Canada, you have to obtain an Export/Import number along with your regular business number. The business number is issued by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) for an import/export account. The account is free of charge and can usually be obtained in a matter of minutes.


When starting with an import business, remember that certain products require you to have specific permits or licenses or require you to follow specific government regulations. Gather as much information as you can about the products that you plan on importing. This information will be useful when it comes to tariff calculation on the goods being imported. The tariff calculation will determine the rate of duty that will be applied to your goods.

Customs broker

Although you can prepare your own paper work and approach Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) for the release of your goods, hiring an authorized licensed customs broker can help you accelerate the process as they are familiar with the procedures and the requirements. It is important to remember that the ultimate responsibility of accounting documentation and payment of duties and tax lies with you.

The services of a customs broker will help you carry out the following customs related responsibilities on your behalf:

  • Obtaining the release of imported goods;
  • Paying duties that are applicable;
  • Obtaining, processing, presenting or transmitting the required documents;
  • Maintaining records;
  • Responding to any CBSA concerns after payment.

You are required to pay for the services of the customs broker; these fees are generally determined by the brokerage firm.

Country of Origin

It is important for you to determine the country of origin for the products you are importing. This does not only include the country from which the product was shipped to you but also includes the countries where the individual parts of the product were manufactured in.

Ensure if the goods being imported are subject to any regulations, permits or restrictions

At times, many goods are required to have permits, certificates or are subject to being imported. The CBSA is responsible for administrating all of the above on behalf of other government departments. One important point to keep in mind is that more than one government may have a role to play when it comes to regulations related to importing a certain product. If you are importing alcohol or tobacco, it is generally recommended that you check with the applicable authority of your particular province. Also, determine beforehand if the goods that you are importing are subject to any kind of domestic controls. Under the DPA and Controlled Goods Regulations Act, you are required to register with the Public Works and Government Service’s (PWGSC) Controlled Goods Program (CGP) if you are possessing or transferring controlled goods domestically.

If you are planning to start an import business and would like to have a better understanding of the different sets of rules and regulations in play, then get in touch with Prowse Chowne.