4 Steps to Ensure Your Import/Export is Compliant

You don’t need to be a big company to import or export—just be prepared so you can avoid costly mistakes. This will make your customers happy and your business transactions more seamless.

Canada has Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with more than 10 countries, which help Canadian products stay competitive in the international marketplace through the reduction or elimination of tariff and non-tariff barriers to trade.

As an importer or exporter, you can benefit from Free Trade Agreements by taking these 4 steps toward compliance:

  1. Find out where the product is made and shipped from. When a product is bought from an FTA country it doesn’t necessarily mean that the item is made entirely in that country. In a case where a product is made in a non-FTA country but purchased from an FTA partner, the item won’t qualify for tariff reductions and will be most likely dutiable. You can find out the rules of origin for your product in this list from the CBSA.
  2. Prove the product origin to customs with a Certificate of Origin. You can download a certificate of origin from the CBSA website specific to the country you are importing from or exporting to. If your product is assembled in Canada but made from raw materials sourced from a non-FTA country, you can apply for an Advance Rulings for Origin Under Free Trade Agreements directly through the CBSA, or through a customs broker.
  3. Determine the HS code of your product and the duty rate. A freight forwarder or customs broker can help you with this, or talk to the Women’s Enterprise Centre Trade Specialist. Your supplier can also give you the first six universal digits of the HS code.
  4. Research your product-specific government regulations and standards. Just because you’re doing business with an FTA country doesn’t mean that regulations and standards don’t apply. You can find the regulations for your specific product from local or foreign government agencies and foreign business partners, while bureaus of Testing, Inspection and Certification (TIC) can identify applicable standards.

As with all your business decisions, proper research will ensure that you make the right choices to grow your business. Equipping yourself with the right information will help you import/export legally and confidently.

If you recognize the opportunities of importing/exporting, but you’re intimidated by the process of getting global market-ready, Women’s Enterprise Centre offers a new customized import/export advisory service. Our Trade Specialist can help you prepare an import/export plan, determine the logistics, customs and regulations requirements for your specific product and more. Learn about this service


Sandra Light

Sandra Light, BA is Business Advisor - Trade Specialist at our Kelowna office. With a BA in international trade, Sandra has 20 years of experience as a trade expert working in multiple countries, and speaks French and Spanish. Over the past ten years, Sandra has advised and assisted almost one thousand entrepreneurs to grow their business through international trade. Sandra provides hands-on assistance to both importers and exporters, from helping with sales and marketing strategies to the hands-on topics of customs declarations, other government regulations and how to deal with HS codes, incoterms, logistics, means of payment, taxation and tariff treatments, and registration numbers. Sandra also loves delivering interactive and informative workshops and presentations on import

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