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Exporting from Canada: What you Need to Know

Exporting from Canada: What you need to know

Have you ever considered exporting from Canada? Exporting from Canada to other countries can be a lucrative business to consider -especially as an Immigrant with strong ties and networks from your country of origin. Let’s go through what you need to know about exporting from Canada.

The Importing and Exporting businesses are similar but not the same. One enters our Canadian ports; the other one leaves our ports. You could export products or services to international markets with willing buyers – this provides a great opportunity for immigrants and puts us at a competitive advantage given our existing networks, language and cultural knowledge of our home countries.

Are you exporting services? I will get to that in a minute.

Exporting is sending goods or services from one country to another. It is an agreement between a seller in one country and a buyer. Exported Canadian commodities could be precious metals, lumber and more.

Exported services are professional services provided beyond International Borders. It could be an international consulting service,  freelance contracts and more. You may offer such services and don’t know you are an exporting business.  

Another fun fact; you do not have to live in Canada to export goods from Canada to another country.

To start an exporting business, you will need to do your research and develop your export plan. This export plan is an extension of your business plan. Your research should provide insight on the following;

  • The type of goods or services you intend to export
  • Identify Your target market.
  • Your customer – someone who is willing and able to buy your goods – this is where your existing networks from back home will come in handy and provide a competitive advantage – willing buyers.
  • The best method to enter your target market. Through a distribution network or an International Office.



Like an importing business, you will register your exporting business as a sole proprietor or incorporation. You will then need to get an import-export program account from the Canada Revenue Agency to process your custom documents when exporting.

A business number is the unique nine-digit number you are given when you register your business as a sole proprietor/corporation. The Import-Export program accounts are two letters and four digits. This program account helps specify the type of business activity you report to the Canada Revenue Agency.

An example of an Import-Export Program Account would look like the detail below;

Business Number: 123456789
Program Identifier: RM
Reference Number: 0004


Depending on the type of commodity you export, you need to meet the following requirements.

  • Report your shipments if over CAD 2,000 in monetary value
  • Determine if you need an export declaration permit, certificate or License
  • Get the permits, certificates or licenses required to export your goods.
  • Provide a certificate of Origin which will be very useful to your buyer
  • Have a buyer who is willing to buy the product in the country you are exporting to.
  • Identify the goods you want to export

You must provide a clear and detailed description of what you intend to export. Before considering an item or commodity to ship, confirm if it’s on the list of restricted goods or not.

Restricted goods could be regulated, controlled or prohibited goods. You may need a permit, certificate or license to determine if your goods are eligible for export.

Check out the Canada Revenue Agency’s reference list of prohibited goods. This list provides details on exported goods requiring permits or certificates from other federal government departments and agencies.


As an exporter, you must provide the Certificate of Origin. This document contains the country of origin’s details and all materials used in producing the commodity.

It also acts as an identifier if on the export-controlled list. Examples of such items are peanut butter, Sugar or Sugar products, firearms, cats and dog food and more. Yes, you’ll find guns and pets canned food on the export control list.

For more information on exporting from Canada, check out this guide.   Review the export and brokering controls handbook to learn more about export control in your spare time.

Canada, the Great White Nation, is also described as a Trading Nation. Canada’s growing trade network provides you preferred access to diverse markets worldwide. Explore Canada’s Trade and Investment agreements to identify which network works for you.

Remember, part of succeeding in a business involves expanding your business network.

If exporting business has piqued your interest, I recommend you check out Export Development Canada (EDC).

Export Development Canada provides you with market information and trade insights to help you make the best-informed decisions. EDC’s Global Economic Outlook-Winter 2021: Hope Deferred reports that from an estimated drop of -5.6% in 2020, Canada will rebound by 4.4% in 2021 and 4% next year.

Still, looking for more information on exporting from Canada? Visit the Government of Canada website to learn more.

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