Thinking About Exporting
Choosing Your Target Market
International Agreements and Shipping Logistics
Authentication and Certification of Documents
Sources of Export Assistance
Are you thinking of selling to international clients? Exporting is the sale of goods or services from Canada to any other country. The global marketplace presents a great opportunity to sell your products and services internationally. The key to success, just as with any other business activity, is to know your market. This guide will provide you with resources to help you learn about foreign markets and make it easier for you to get your products to market.
When you are preparing to export there are several points to consider.
Do you have:
Do you know:
Before taking your business abroad, you will also need to learn the basics and find out if your business is export ready. Below you will find some tools and guides to help you.
Get a better understanding of the exporting process from the Trade Commissioners Service's exporting guide. The guide is designed to provide you with practical information to help you assess your export capabilities. It also steers you through the process of planning and executing your first exporting venture.
Step-by-Step Guide to Exporting
Your small or medium-sized business can get an overview of the process for exporting goods from Canada. The Canada Border Services Agency's guide provides information on exporting in a straightforward, step-by-step format.
A Step-by-Step Guide to Exporting
Get information on the fundamentals of export success and access resources available to Ontario businesses entering foreign markets.
Getting Ready To Export
Learn about Canada's export regulations and your obligations for exporting goods.
Learn how you can improve the competitiveness, profitability and long term sustainability of your small or medium sized business. The Trade Commissioner Service provides information on the possibilities that global value chains offer to Canadian businesses.
Linking In to Global Value Chains
Access Canada's official source of news and advice on trade, export and investment opportunities around the world. Entrepreneurs who want to learn about competing, partnering and prospering in the global marketplace can subscribe to this e-magazine.
Market research is an essential part of export business planning. It is important to obtain information about potential export markets and develop an export marketing plan.
You can start by researching:
When you have done the research on these and other issues that may have an impact on your product or service, you can make an informed decision about exporting.
The following resources can help you research and identify export markets:
You can get customized consulting solutions for the complex challenges you face everyday as a Canadian entrepreneur, including assistance with market research, export planning and globalization.
Contact the BDC:
Intellectual properties are creative ideas or designs that have commercial value. Get more information on how to protect your intellectual property when you export it to a foreign market.
You can take advantage of Statistics Canada's detailed trade data. The information is available online for anyone whose business depends on importing or exporting (costs are applicable).
Access detailed information on Canadian and U.S. imports, exports and trade balances in terms of dollars or percentages, based on data from Statistics Canada and the U.S. Census Bureau. Information for over 200 countries is available.
Trade Data Online
Get help accessing domestic markets and exporting your agricultural, fish or seafood products to foreign markets, through market information, trade counselling and a variety of export support activities.
Agri-Food Trade Service
Take advantage of free access to invaluable information on the countries and cultures of the world.
Find information on political and economic developments in a variety of countries around the world.
You can find basic intelligence on countries through the Central Intelligence Agency's (CIA) World Factbook. Country profiles highlight the country's background, geography, people, government, economy, communications, transportation, military and transnational issues.
CIA World Factbook
Businesses that have identified a specific product or service to export and targeted a particular geographic market should ensure that they have a well developed export business plan.
Writing an Export Plan
There are various regulations that apply to exporting goods from Canada to other parts of the world.
If you have legal questions, contact a lawyer who deals with business regulations. The Law Society of Upper Canada's Lawyer Referral Service may be able to assist you in finding a lawyer, based on your needs.
Contact the Law Society of Upper Canada:
Law Society of Upper Canada's Lawyer Referral Service
All Canadian businesses and individuals who are exporting on a commercial basis must obtain a Business Number from the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).
Contact the CRA:
CBSA is the main federal agency responsible for border enforcement and customs services. It regulates the flow of persons and goods across the Canadian border and collects all applicable duties, tariffs and taxes. Through its Border Information Service, a computerized, 24-hour telephone service you can access information on various customs topics free of charge from anywhere in Canada. Press "0" during regular business hours to speak with an agent.
CBSA has shared responsibility for:
If your commercial shipments are valued at more than $2,000 (CDN) and are exported to a country other than the United States, you must report the export to CBSA. You can file your report in one of four ways:
Read online :
Methods of Reporting Your Exports
Find out if the product you are exporting is prohibited or controlled. Certain goods are prohibited from entering or leaving Canada or require permits, certificates, labelling or authorization from a federal department are needed before Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) will release the goods.
If you plan on exporting objects of historical, scientific and cultural significance you may require an export permit. The Canadian Cultural Property Export Control List identifies the categories of cultural property that require a permit before the object can be exported.
If you are crossing the Canadian border with $10,000 or more in Canadian funds or its equivalent in any form you have to report this to Canada Border Services Agency. The same applies if you are sending this amount by courier or by mail into or out of Canada, on your own behalf or the behalf of someone else.
Cross Border Currency Reporting
You will need an Export Permit if you are exporting to a country on the Area Control List or when the goods are on the Export Control List. The Trade Controls & Technical Barriers Bureau (TCTBB) of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada (DFAIT) can help you determine if export permits are required and publishes brochures and Notices to Exporters that are available free on request.
Contact the Export and Import Controls Bureau:
TCTBB - Exporting
You may need certain certificates and permits if you want to export goods or services to a country or group that is subject to Canadian economic sanctions. Economic Law Section (JLHB) of the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT) maintains on their website a list of destinations that are under sanctions and can help you with the application process for permits you might need.
EXCOL is a user friendly web-based application where exporters can submit applications for export permits and certificates, as well as request amendments and to print selected permits in your office.
Export Controls Online (EXCOL)
The Standards Council of Canada (SCC) offers businesses a number of specialized standards and standards-related information products online such as:
Contact the Standards Council of Canada:
A large part of the exporting process involves getting your goods to their destination. This means not only arranging for the physical transport of your goods- by ship or land or air - but also completing paperwork and complying with laws and regulations set out by authorities in the target country. Below you will find information on some of the regulations that you may encounter.
Your product has six-digit number that identifies it. The number is used by customs officials around the world to determine the duties, taxes and regulations that apply to products entering their country.
Searching Statistics Canada's Canadian Export Classification database can help you identify the HS code for your goods.
Many countries have trade agreements with Canada that make it easier for you to export your goods. Other countries have tariffs that must be paid when goods enter their country.
It is important to identify tariff and non-tariff barriers that may apply to your product or service in a foreign market. Are there restrictions in the form of taxes, import duties or quotas? Are there trade agreements which favour the goods and services of one country over another?
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada (DFAIT) through its Tariffs and Goods Market Access Division provides information to Canadian exporters such as:
You can also choose to have these logistical requirements handled by an experienced export broker or freight forwarder.
Freight Forwarders and Customs Brokers
There are custom programs that allow you to defer payments on goods you have imported and will be exporting, under specific circumstances.
Contact Canada Border Services Agency:
Duty Deferral Program
Some of the programs that are part of the Duty Deferral Program include:
When you start to export you may be asked to present official documentation, which can include providing authenticated and certified documents. Below are a number of options to get the required authentication and certification.
The Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT) authenticates or certifies signatures on various Canadian documents for use abroad (for example, birth, certificates, contracts, and government documents such as patents and trademark registrations).
As a starting point, please contact the Authentication and Service Division, Documents Section of DFAIT.
Authentication of Documents
If you are doing business or travelling abroad, you may be required to provide proof of authentication for official documents issued in Ontario. The ODS office of the Ministry of Government Services formally authenticates legalized documents requested by foreign consulates and embassies.
Official Documents Services
Many health-related, food and beverage products will require additional documentation in the form of a certificate, that can be obtained from the Canadian Chamber of Commerce for a small fee.
Contact Canadian Chamber of Commerce:
Certification of documents
Having the right training and skills is necessary for you or your employees when dealing with the complex and evolving field of export.
Here are some resources that can help you:
Take advantage of regional events that feature a half day program of workshops, roundtable discussions and networking sessions focused on export topics of interest to local small and medium-sized companies. The Ministry of Economic Development and Innovation (MEDI) offers general export information on: Export Financing, E-Commerce, E-Business, Internet Exposure Benefits, and Managing Export Growth.
FITT provides interested exporters with the training and skills necessary to compete in international markets through their FITTskills Courses:
Get help understanding topics such as the import tariff classification system, NAFTA, export documentation and regulations, through online training modules offered by the Canadian Society of Customs Brokers (CSCB). You can register even if you are not a member.
Contact the Canadian Society of Customs Brokers:
Professional Development Modules
Finding and exporting to new markets can require good financial resources. You may have to expand your production facilities, develop a distribution network, or accommodate a buyer who is requesting the best terms possible and guarantees before buying your product or service. Listed below are different financing options that may be available to your export venture.
EDC offers a range of risk reduction financial products and services, to small exporters interested in export receivables insurance and export financing support. They also provide services to any exporter, of any size, operating in any sector of the economy (including the service sector) and generally looks for at least 50% Canadian content.
Explore financial services that focus on market expansion and exporting to the Canadian small business sector.
Export Market Access: A Global Expansion Program is designed to assist small to medium size organizations (SMEs) access and expand into new foreign markets that are beyond the U.S.
This support program offers financial assistance with:
Contact the Ontario Chamber of Commerce:
Export Market Access (EMA)
For other export financing programs that may be of assistance to you consult the Canada Business Exporting Financing page online.
Take advantage of available help to get your business export ready. There are organizations that offer a number of services that can help you expand to international markets.
Organizations That Can Help You Export
You can access a wide range of management resources, perspectives and data from Industry Canada's website that can help you develop and expand your markets, create alliances and find new clients.
Trade and Investment
Access in-depth, industry-specific analysis, statistics, contacts, news, events, financing and regulatory information for Canadian business from Industry Canada.
Information by Industrial Sector
The COEF is a source for the information, counselling, market intelligence, financial assistance and on the ground support you need to make your export venture a successful one.
Benefit from seminars and the help of expert international consultants from the International Trade Branch (ITB), part of the Ontario Ministry of Economic Development and Innovation. The ITB can help your Ontario business start exporting or expand into new markets.
Contact the International Trade Branch:
International Trade Branch (ITB)
If you are a new or experienced exporter of food, beverage and agricultural products the Export Marketing Unit of OMAFRA offers a number of services, including counselling, seminars, trade missions, international trade shows, sourcing and market intelligence. They also administer the PROFIT Food Export Seminar; a two-day seminar that addresses the basics of exporting to the U.S. market.
PROFIT Seminar for the Program to Raise Ontario Foods International Trade
Take advantage of EDC's Foreign Exchange Facility Guarantee (FXG) by purchasing forward contracts from financial institutions and locking in exchange rates as protection against foreign currency fluctuations.
Foreign Exchange Facility Guarantee
Get assistance with government procurement, specifically in aerospace, defence and security, and emerging and developing country markets. The CCC is an export sales agency of the Government of Canada that brings buyers and Canadian exporters together through contracts built on the best possible terms and conditions.
Canadian Commercial Corporation
The Business Women in International Trade website is a gateway to a wealth of information on preparing for and succeeding in the export marketplace.
Businesswomen in International Trade
Other CBO documents of interest:
There are many trade organizations that have a strong export focus. Many of these organizations offer seminars and export information on foreign markets:
You can also find books, magazines and other relevant print material at business service organizations in your community. To locate a Canada Business Ontario (CBO) community partner, contact us through the Business Info Line at 1-888-745-8888.
Information contained in this document is of a general nature only and is not intended to constitute advice for any specific situation. Users concerned about the reliability of the information should consult directly with the source, or seek legal counsel.
Some of the organizations listed above are not subject to the federal Official Languages Act or the French Language Services Act of Ontario. Their services may not be available in both official languages.