Import From China Business

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A practical guide for starting a small business

Importing to Canada

Do I Need a License for Importing to Canada?

Importing to Canada from China or from any other country does not require a license.  However, some goods are prohibited, restricted or controlled.  A permit is required for certain classes of goods such as: drugs, some agricultural items, certain textiles, endangered plant and animal species, natural gas, materials for atomic energy

The issue of permits is conducted by the Department of External Affairs and International Trade.

Getting Imported Goods Into the Canada

Canada is a large and diverse but sparsely populated nation.  The diversity brings about many different needs which is a great opportunity for someone looking to import goods from China into Canada.  If you are a Canadian wanting to bring goods into Canada, make sure that your foreign business partner understands Canada Culture.  If you are a foreigner interested in exporting goods to Canada, understanding the Canada Culture will prepare you for success.  There are many Exporting to Canada opportunities waiting for you in this affluent nation.  Be sure to check out the Canadian Fashion and Shoes Canada industries as an import opportunities.

Once you decide on an opportunity, you need to determine logistically how to get the product from China to Canada.  Most of the time, it will involve
Shipping to Canada and one of its major ports.  As an exporter looking for opportunities in Canada, you’ll need some Canada Travel Tips to help you conquer this vast and diverse nation.

As a nation, Canada has good relationships with other trading nations such as the United States and Mexico under the North American Free Trade Agreement or NAFTA.  Such agreements made it easier for those Canadian entrepreneurs who wanted to import into Canada.

When importing to Canada, the goods typically end up traveling to either Toronto or Montreal for further distribution due to the centers' proximity to the demand population.    For instance, a large portion, about half of the electronic imports from China are sold in Ontario.

Here are the key individuals and steps for getting imported goods into Canada:

Packaging and Labeling

Goods packaged to be sold in Canada are subjected to the Consumer Packaging and Labeling Act which governs the label, packaging, advertising of consumer products.

The most notable standard is labels have to be in both English and French. Any measure of volume or weight must use the metric system of meters, kilograms.

The labels cannot have any misleading claims.  

Customs Canada, the government agency responsible for inspecting imported goods requires that all products must state a country of origin.  For example: "Made in China".

Labels should also reflect Canadian concerns about environmental issues such as recycled content of the packaging, biodegradable packaging etc.


Packing documentation

Goods valued at less than C$20 only require a general invoice

Minimum documentation is required for imported goods valued at less than C$1,200 as long as full accounting is made and tariffs and duties are paid within 5 business days.

A full Canada Customs invoice is required for all imported goods over C$1,200.   This document will contain information on the product name, quantity, buyer and seller names, price paid, transaction number.  Other documents required are the exporter's Certificate of Origin and Bill of Lading.


Agents for Importing to Canada

Customs brokers who act as agents for importers are licensed by the government in Canada.  The agent's duties include:

The importer pays the agent according to their agreement.

Distributors for Importing to Canada

Distributors can buy and sell their own account but they are not permitted to contract on behalf of the supplier.

Policies and Procedures for Importing to Canada

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Shipping Documentation

In general, the more detailed your shipping documentation is, the faster will your goods be processed through customs.  So it is worthwhile to pay attention to this step. Electronic versions are permitted today.  

Mail and parcel post shipments require postal documentation instead of the Bill of Lading.  A copy of the shipping invoice should also be included with the shipment.

Air cargo shipments require air waybills instead of bill of lading.


Customs Clearance

All imported goods into Canada must be cleared at the port or location of entry.  Duties are assigned based on a percentage of the value of the goods or on a specific basis by unit, measure or quantity.   The value of the goods is indicated by the selling price on the commercial invoice and it sometimes also includes shipping and packing charges.


Duties fall under two classes:

1. Most Favoured Nation Tariff - goods coming from developed countries such as Japan fall into this class.

2. General Preferential Tariff - goods from developing countries such as India fall under this class.

The Canada Border Services Agency's publication of the Customs Tariffs contains tariff rates for import products:

Payment and Credit Conditions

Most business transactions typically are done using open accounts.

This general process for importing to Canada from China is also the same procedure for importing to Canada from any other country around the world.

Real Experiences!

Jeff R. - Import from China to Canada

“I want to get acquainted with the custom and cultural formalities of dealing with the Chinese in business.  This is one of many informative topics that I've learnt while navigating through your site.  Thank you for your time and diligence in creating such a wonderful tool.  I am very excited about my importing career. I wish you all the best and deepest thanks again.”