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Importing commercial goods into Canada

by Adam Gilbourne 

Importing Commercial Goods into Canada

Canada’s total trade is worth more than two thirds of its GDP, making it a prosperous trading nation. But like all ports around the world, Canada has strict rules and procedures that you must adhere to when importing commercial goods. Here we will outline the key aspects to consider when importing into Canada. 

Make sure you have a business number

Before importing commercial goods into Canada, you will need a business number. It must be 15 digits and you can get one from the Canadian Revenue Agency by registering onlinehere. You need to show this number on your import account and customs declarations.


One of the most important parts of managing your Canadian imports smoothly is correctly completing the ‘full accounting package,’ which includes all of your paperwork. This package needs to have each of the following documents:

  • Two Copies of the Cargo Control Document (CCD):The CCD is the document you use as your initial indicator to the border security staff of your shipment, allowing them to keep track of it. The CCD must have a bar-coded cargo control number (CCN). The first four digits of the CCN must be the carrier’s unique carrier code.
  • Two Copies of the Invoice: It is best if you use theCanadian Customs Invoice (CCI), which includes all of the necessary information like the Vendors name and address, the date of direct shipment to Canada, Consignee name and address, purchasers name and address, country of transhipment, and country of origin of goods.
  • Two Copies of the Canadian Customs coding form: The Canadian Customs coding form is a detailed document that includes aspects like the value for duty and tariff classification. Canada uses the Harmonized System, an internationally standardised system of names and numbers to classify traded products.
  • Any Permits, Health Certificates and other relevant documentation: Get as much information as you can about the goods you are importing, and investigate what is controlled in Canada. You can then make sure you have the correct permits and certificates for any items that require them, for example, a health permit if you are bringing in meat or a general permit for steel or clothing.

Random Inspection

It is important to note that the Customs authority has the legal power to inspect the shipment if they want to. They won’t inspect every shipment but they do make random inspections based on your record, as a security measure to ensure that the goods are as they have been listed. They are also allowed to take samples of the goods, within reason, if they need to test the goods. Be prepared for this in case you are to undergo a random inspection.

How to get your goods released

There are two options for getting your goods released. The first is called the release on minimum documentation, which means you can get your shipment released on presentation of data for interim accounting. This is basically the full accounting package of paperwork discussed earlier. But if you are not a ‘carrier,’ which means you don’t transport international freight for a living, then you can apply using the ‘Hand Carrier Goods’ release process. This is a simpler way to get your goods released but needs to be at the port of entry to Canada.

Importing commercial goods into any country is a complicated process. If you’d prefer to have someone else take care of your paperwork, paying the correct duties and handling any unexpected issues that may arise, contact Easy Imex today.

Adam Gilbourne is the founder of Easy Imex Ltd and helps importers to source product & manage their supply chain in China. He writes advice for importers on the Easy Imex blog. He lives full time in Shanghai, China. You can contact him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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