Exporting goods from Canada: Roles and responsibilities
An exporter, who may or may not reside in Canada, is the party who exports commercial goods from Canada. Exporters residing outside Canada and exporting goods from Canada are non-resident exporters. All exporters are subject to the same reporting requirements.
The term exporter should not be confused with carriers, customs service providers, or other parties involved in the transportation arrangements.
- is required to obtain a business number (BN) account designated for export or import/export
- is responsible for ensuring that any permit or other document required under the Customs Act or any other act of Parliament or related regulations that prohibit, control or regulate the exportation of goods, is submitted to the CBSA
- may delegate the act of completing and submitting export declarations or documents to a third party, such as a customs service provider
- the exporter ultimately remains liable for ensuring that true and accurate information is provided within the prescribed timeframes
Penalties resulting from submitting an incomplete, inaccurate, or late export declaration will be assessed against the owner of the BN, listed on the export declaration. Customs service providers who complete export declarations on behalf of exporters must enter the exporter's BN on the export declarations and not their own.
- Non-residents of Canada
- Business number registration
- Reporting of Exported Goods Regulations
- Memorandum D20-1-1, Export Reporting
Preparing to export
This section describes the requirements for exporting goods from Canada.
In this section
- Obtain a business number
- Identify the goods you want to export
- Ensure the goods are permitted to be exported from Canada
- Identify if the goods you intend to export are restricted or require additional documentation
- Determine the country of origin of the goods you are exporting
- Ensure that the goods you are exporting are allowed entry into the destination country
Obtain a business number
Exporters need to register for an export or import/export business number (BN) account in order to submit export declarations to the CBSA.
A BN account is free of charge.
To obtain a business number or to confirm that your business number is still valid:
- call the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) at 1-800-959-8886 or
- consult How to register for a business number (CRA)
Identify the goods you want to export
You must provide true and accurate information when completing the goods description fields in your export declaration. A clear and detailed description will assist in determining if your goods are restricted (that is, their export is regulated, controlled or prohibited), if you need a permit, certificate or license, and if your goods are eligible for export.
Ensure the goods are permitted to be exported from Canada
Certain goods cannot be exported from Canada. A few examples include:
- counterfeit money (Criminal Code, Advertising and Trafficking in Counterfeit Money or Counterfeit Tokens of Value, section 452)
- stolen vehicles and any property obtained by crime (An Act to amend the Criminal Code - auto theft and trafficking in property obtained by crime (S.C. 2010, c. 14))
Identify if the goods you intend to export are restricted or require additional documentation
If the goods being exported are restricted, the exporter must complete and present a printed copy of their export declaration and any applicable permit, certificate, or license to the CBSA at the place specified on the permit authorizing the exportation. If no place is specified in the permit, the exporter must present these documents at the export reporting office located closest to the place of exit of the goods from Canada.
Note: Restricted goods exported to the United States do not require an export declaration but are still subject to the requirement to present any applicable permit, certificate or license.
The exporter must ensure that their goods meet all requirements under the law. Failure to do so could result in fines, detention or seizure of the goods by the CBSA.
- Commodities that may require export permits by Other Government Departments
- Reporting of Exported Goods Regulations
- Memoranda Series D19, Acts and Regulations of Other Government Departments
Determine the country of origin for the goods you are exporting
The origin of the goods you want to export can affect permit requirements. For information on the necessary permits required based on the country of origin of the goods you are exporting, consult the GAC Export and Brokering Controls Handbook. For example, you will need an individual export permit for goods originating from the United States if you wish to export these goods to certain countries or to any destination on Canada's Area Control List.
For a list of these countries, please consult the Global Affairs Canada website.
- Export permits and export controls (Global Affairs Canada)
- Memoranda Series D11, General Tariff Information for additional information on origin
Ensure that the goods you are exporting are allowed entry into the destination country
It is in your best interest to verify that your goods meet the import requirements of the receiving country. For information about the requirements of other countries, refer to the Embassy or consulate (in Canada) of the country to which you will be exporting.
You can also have the importer of your goods contact their local government to ensure the goods comply with their import regulations.
Determining if you need an export declaration and/or a permit/certificate/licence
Restricted goods: regulated, controlled, or prohibited goods, regardless of value
You do not need an export declaration if you are exporting restricted goods from Canada to the United States (including Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands) as a final destination
You need an export declaration if you are exporting restricted goods from Canada to any other destination
Important note: for additional document requirements, refer to the “Permit, Certificate, Licence” section.
Non-restricted goods: goods that do not require a permit, certificate or licence under any act of Parliament
You do not need an export declaration if you are exporting non-restricted goods from Canada to the United States (including Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands) as a final destination
You need an export declaration if you are exporting non-restricted commercial goods valued at CAN$2,000 or more from Canada to any other destination
Refer to the List of goods that do not need an export declaration and the Memorandum D20-1-1, Export Reporting.
Permit, certificate, license
Restricted goods: regulated, controlled, or prohibited goods, regardless of value
You need to present a permit, certificate or licence, as required, issued by the appropriate other government department if you are exporting restricted goods from Canada to the United States (including Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands) as a final destination (for export declaration requirements, see the “Export Declaration” section)
You need to present a permit, certificate or licence, as required, issued by the appropriate other government department if you are exporting restricted goods from Canada to any other destination (for export declaration requirements, see the “Export Declaration” section)
Important note: An export declaration is required for goods valued at CAN$2,000 or more, or for restricted goods irrespective of value, transiting through the United States to any other destination. Similarly, any goods entering the United States on a transportation and exportation entry (T & E) bond (that is, in transit) require an export declaration.
Classifying your exports
You must classify the goods once you have determined that they may be exported and that you need to submit an export declaration.
If you are using the Canadian Export Reporting System (CERS) to submit your export declaration, you must enter the 8-digit Canadian Export Classification number that describes your goods. To obtain the 8-digit Canadian Export Classification number, consult Canadian Export Classification (Statistics Canada).
If you are using the G7 Electronic Data Interchange Export Reporting to submit your export declaration, you must enter the 10-digit Tariff Classification Number that describes your goods. To obtain the 10-digit Tariff Classification Number, consult the Canadian Customs Tariff.
How to submit an export declaration
Before registering for any export reporting method, ensure you have a valid business number.
Select your reporting method
There are 2 methods currently available to submit export declarations:
- Canadian Export Reporting System (CERS), a web-based portal that can be used to transmit electronic export declarations and summary reports
- G7 Electronic Data Interchange Export Reporting (G7 EDI)
If you are unsure which method is right for you, the CBSA recommends that you use the Canadian Export Reporting System (CERS).
Find out when to submit your declaration
Export declarations and related permits, certificates or licenses generally need to be submitted in the following timeframes:
- Air: not less than 2 hours before the goods are loaded onto the aircraft
- Marine: not less than 48 hours before the goods are loaded onto the vessel
- Rail: not less than 2 hours before the goods are loaded onto the railcar assembled to the train
- Mail: not less than 2 hours before the goods are delivered to the post office
- Highway: immediately before leaving the country
Find out where to present your permits, certificates of licenses
If you are exporting restricted goods that require additional documentation such as a permit, certificate or license, you must present a paper copy of your export declaration (a print out of your electronic export declaration), together with the accompanying permit, certificate, or license to the CBSA at the place specified in the permit authorizing the exportation.
If your documents do not specify where to go for document verification, present them at the export reporting office closest to where your goods would leave Canada.
Important Note: For goods exported to the United States, a declaration is not required, but the permit, certificate or license must be presented.
Examining your documents and goods prior to export
The CBSA may examine your goods to ensure they comply with all export requirements. This examination is conducted without charge; however, if there is a need to hire a transport company to move or handle your goods, you may receive an invoice from that company for their services. In addition, you may be subject to costs which are generally charged by third parties such as warehouse operators, building facilities owner, and others.
After your goods are exported
In this section
- Amend or cancel export declaration
- Voluntary disclosures
- Keep all export records for 6 years
- Provide a Certificate of Origin, if requested
- Legislative context
Amend or cancel export declaration
Different procedures and timelines must be followed depending on which type of export declaration needs to be amended or cancelled. For information, consult Memorandum D20-1-1, Export Reporting.
The voluntary disclosure process encourages clients to inform the CBSA of any past errors or omissions and make corrections in order to comply with their legal obligations. This opportunity to self-correct, may result in penalties being waived.
For further information on Voluntary Disclosure, refer to Memorandum D11-6-4, Relief of Interest and/or Penalties Including Voluntary Disclosure.
Keep all export records for 6 years
You must keep all records pertaining to your exportations for 6 years following the exportation of your commercial goods, in either electronic or paper format.
For more information on the keeping of books and records pertaining to exports please consult Memorandum D20-1-5, Maintenance of Records and Books in Canada by Exporters and Producers.
Provide a Certificate of Origin, if requested
An importer in the foreign country to which you are exporting goods may be entitled to claim a preferential tariff treatment and pay a lower duty rate if they have a valid certificate of origin.
The certificate of origin is a signed declaration from the manufacturer of the goods that the goods are of Canadian origin and meet the requirements of a free trade agreement. You, as the exporter, must forward a copy of the certificate of origin to the importer and retain a copy for your records.
For more information on certificates of origin, refer to Memorandum D11-4-14, Certificate of Origin.
The Customs Act requires goods being exported from Canada to be reported. The 3 main objectives of export reporting are to:
- ensure that goods leaving Canada do not pose a threat to other countries
- support the Government of Canada's domestic priorities by administering the applicable export requirements
- collect accurate information on Canadian exports for the purpose of Government of Canada economic reporting
As an exporter, it is in your best interest to be as accurate and as thorough as possible in your export reporting. Proactively seeking guidance from federal departments that control and regulate exports will help you to understand the requirements. This could also help to avoid costly delays at the time of export.
The CBSA may take enforcement action, including monetary penalties, seize goods as forfeit, and lay criminal charges, when Canada's export laws have been contravened.
- Get started with electronic export reporting
- Canadian Export Reporting System Portal: Sign in
- Other government departments and agencies: Reference list for exporters
- Checklist for exporting commercial goods from Canada
- Memorandum D20-1-1, Exporter Reporting
- Memorandum D3-1-8, Cargo—Export Movements
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