How to get an Import/Export License in Canada

How to get an Import/Export License in Canada

May 24, 2022

Shipping goods into or out of Canada can be demanding. You will be required to present several documents, create an account, get permits for restricted items, and many other rules and regulations. This process can be easier when you have information on what to do. Well, in this guide we will give you all the information that you need on how you can get an import/export license in Canada.

The contents of this guide are:

  1. How to get an import/export license in Canada
  2. Import license guide
  3. Export license guide
  4. Application for import/export license guide

How to get an Import/Export License from China to the US

The process of importing and exporting goods in Canada cannot be accomplished without a license. So, what is an import/export license? In Canada, the import/export license is simply the import/export account that one creates before importing or exporting goods. A license is sometimes confused with a permit. A permit is a document that is issued to the shipper by the national government. It indicates that certain goods are allowed into or out of its territory. Some goods, however, have fewer or no restrictions and therefore can be imported/exported without a permit. It all depends on the goods.

Before importing or exporting goods in China, this is what you should do:

1. Obtain a Business Number (BN)

A business number is a must-have for every importer/exporter. Whether you are an individual or a business, you will have to request a Business Number from the Canadian Revenue Agency. After getting a Business Number, you will use it when creating an import/export account. To apply for a Business Number and create an import/export account, visit Canada Revenue Agency.

2. Are your goods subject to any restrictions?

Goods can either be non-restricted, restricted or prohibited. Goods that require licensing are known as restricted goods, while prohibited goods are goods that cannot be imported or exported at all. You should therefore identify which category your goods belong to. Canada Border Service Agency (CBSA) oversees this.

When importing to Canada, these are some of the restricted goods:

  • Agriculture
  • Plants
  • Animals
  • Related products

When exporting from Canada, these are some of the restricted goods:

  • Military and strategic
  • Goods and technology (including cryptographic items)
  • Softwood lumber
  • Firearms
  • Sugar and coating products
  • Peanut butter
  • Logs
  • United States original goods and technologies

Import License Guide

Before importing goods, you definitely need an import license in Canada. To import goods, these are the things you should do:

1. Obtain a business number

As discussed above, this is the first and most important step in the shipping process in Canada

2. Identify the goods you want to import and the value

By the time you start planning on importing into Canada, you definitely know what you want already. Is it a car? Is it a weapon? Well, you need to be clear on what you want and you can also research how much it will cost.

3. Identify the country of origin

Where do you want to import from? Is it China? Or is it the USA? Canada is actually among the world’s top economies. It has good economic relations with several countries. Some of the top Countries that Canada imports from include:

  • China
  • USA
  • Mexico
  • Germany
  • Japan
  • United Kingdom

4. Will you need a customs broker?

When importing goods in Canada, you have two options. You can either do the shipping process by yourself (personal importer) or get a customs broker (commercial importer). Some of the roles and benefits of getting a customs broker include:

  • Customs brokers will ensure that you have all the necessary documents
  • They will help you in making shipping decisions
  • They ensure you act per the rules and regulations
  • With a customs broker, you can avoid penalization
  • They liaise with the government for restricted imports
  • They submit import declarations to the customs on your behalf

5. Determine if the goods are restricted in Canada or not

The Canada Border Service Agency is in charge of this. You should ensure to confirm with CBSA whether your goods are allowed into the country, restricted, or prohibited. If they are restricted, you can apply for a permit so that you are allowed to ship the goods. If the goods are prohibited then you cannot ship them into Canada.

Generally, the roles of CBSA are:

  1. The agency offers non-discriminatory border services to foster national security and public safety.
  2. They ease the movement of people and transportation of goods

Once you have ensured that you can import the goods into Canada, here are some of the things you should do:

  • Determine the tariff classification, applicable tariff treatment, rate of duty, and the tax payable when importing. It is advisable to avoid overpayment or underpayment of duties as it reduces the chances of your goods being annexed or the possibility of Administrative Monetary Penalty System (AMPS) penalties.
  • Determine if you can benefit from the Free Trade Agreements. A free trade agreement is a pact agreed upon by two countries to reduce barriers to trade and investment. The countries that Canada has free trade agreements with include Australia, Japan, Brunei, Chile, Mexico, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Vietnam, and Singapore.
  • Understand the customs regulations and requirements. You need to have knowledge of the type of documents required, the ways of managing trade compliance, and also the top trading topics (tariff classification, building trade capacities, valuation, free trade agreements)
  • Choose the option that you will use to convey import declarations to the CBSA. You can decide to do it by yourself or use a customs broker. Another option is to use a courier broker. A courier broker does the shipping process, including the submission of customs declarations on your behalf. There is also an option of making an in-house team. The team will submit import declarations to the Customs from your business through the Electronic Data Interchange (EDI).
  • Choose the method you will use in paying duties and taxes. The options available are Direct Security, Goods and Service Tax (GST) direct, and the use of a customs broker’s bond.
  • Make decisions on how you are going to ship your goods. Will you get a freight forwarder or ship the goods directly? Also, decide on the shipping method you will use. The shipping methods available are air freight, air express, and sea freight. You can also use rail or highway transportation. The shipping method you choose will also depend on the type of goods you are shipping and how fast you want the goods to be delivered.
  • Choose the Incoterm you will use. Some of the incoterms include Ex Works (EXW), Delivery at Place (DAP), Free on Board (FOB), Cost, Insurance and Freight (CIF), Delivered Duty Paid (DDP), Free Carrier (FCA), and Cost and Freight (CFR).

Import/Export License Canada Guide

Do you want to export goods from Canada? Well, the first step is to get an export license if you do not have one. The process of exporting goods is not so different from the importation process. To export goods from Canada, here is what you need to do:

1. Get a business number

As discussed earlier, the process of exporting goods requires one to obtain a business number. With the business number, you can create an import/export account.

2. What goods do you want to export?

In your export declaration, you will be required to provide clear, detailed, and accurate information about what you are shipping.

3. Are the goods permitted to be exported?

Some goods cannot be exported from Canada. Such goods include counterfeit money and stolen vehicles. Some goods are restricted. With such goods, you need to get a permit or a license. Such goods include firearms, explosives, consumer goods, and cryptographic goods.

4. Which country are you exporting to?

Some of the countries that Canada exports to include China, the United Kingdom, Japan, Australia, Switzerland, the United States, Netherlands, Belgium, Brazil, and Indonesia. After identifying the country, you need to ascertain that the goods you want to export will be allowed there.

Export Declaration

When exporting goods from Canada, an export declaration is not always needed. For example, importing goods (whether restricted or non-restricted) to the United States, you do not need an export declaration.

To submit an export declaration, you can either do it via the Canadian Export Reporting System (CERS) or the G7 Electronic Data Interchange Export Reporting. If you are shipping your goods by air, rail, or mail, you need to present the export declaration 2 hours before the goods are packed into the vessels. If you choose marine shipping, you are required to present the export declaration two days before the goods are loaded onto the ships. For highway transportation, you are required to submit the document when the goods are leaving Canada.

Application for an Import/Export Permit

A permit is required when shipping restricted items. The permits are available at the offices of Global Affairs (Ottawa). You can apply for the permit by using a customs broker or not.

When using a customs broker, you need to do the following:

1. Obtain an Export and Import Permits Act (EIPA) file number, by filling out a form.

2. Fill out the application document with the following information:

  1. EIPA file number
  2. Name of the importer
  3. The supplier’s name
  4. The country of origin
  5. The Canadian port of entry
  6. The shipment date
  7. The proposed entry date
  8. The product code
  9. The quantity and value in Canadian dollars.

After filling out the form, a fee of $15 to $31 per permit will be levied.

If you decide that you will not use a customs broker, you are required to fill out the application fee and send it to the offices of Global Affairs by mail or facsimile. You are then required to make the necessary payments, and when you are done, you will be issued the permit.



Getting an import/export license in Canada is a simple process and anyone can do it. With the license, you can be able to do your import/export process freely.

People also have these questions

The body is responsible for issuing permits in Canada in the Export and Import Controls Bureau.

You can make an online application by filling out a form and sending it to the office of Global Affairs in Ottawa. You can also decide to get a customs broker who will get the import permit on your behalf.

An annual import permit costs at most $1324, while a single-use permit is $164. There is no fee charged for export and in-transit permits. You will be charged $153 for authorization of products that are not authorized, for a specified period.

The permits are issued in Ottawa at the offices of Global Affair.

The first thing to do is to register for a business number. You should then create an importer/exporter account. Once you have this, you can begin your importation/exportation process.

To register your business, there are two options. First, you can contact the CRA business window. The number to call is 1-800-959-5525. Second, you can do it online by visiting the CRA Business Registration Online (BRO).

No. Once you have an import or export license you do not have to renew it every now and then. You can use it for a long period.

An import license is permanent and allows you to run a business, while an import license is temporary and is meant to be used in showing that the importation process you are undertaking is legal. An import license is obtained only once while an import permit is only valid for about 30 days.

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