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Opening an Importing Business in Canada

Opening an Importing Business in Canada: Things to Consider

Do you, at times, miss a piece of you from your country of origin? I know I do. Maybe, a particular spice you need to cook that native dish you miss so much. Or perhaps you miss wearing a specific type of textile material you once had in abundance. Or it could be a particular herb you would use for medicinal purposes or a consumable product. Yes, you miss all these and much more, but it’s not the end of the world. Such nostalgia is where opening an importing business in Canada comes into play. You can bring your heritage to your new-found home and make it accessible to a wider audience.

To recreate a meal, you may have to use a substitute when cooking. Yet, nothing beats having the real thing. If you want to open an importing business, there are a few things you need to do beforehand.

First, you need to make sure you know what you want to import. It could be food, clothing materials or natural resources like shea butter.  Second, research more on what you need to operate an importing business in Canada. Once you have your preliminary research done, time to brace up for more critical tasks at hand.



Yay! You have an excellent idea to start importing or exporting. But, to start a business – just like any other business, you need a business name. Check this out to learn more about registering a business name in Canada. Bear in mind; you need to pick a name unique to your business idea. Your business name should be easy to remember and pronounce. It should also be easy to search on the web when driving traffic to your business – online or in-person. You will also have to consider what business structure you intend to operate. I wrote a blog on the type of business structures you can run in Canada.


Yeap! The number one mistake you will need to avert is to register your business and get a business number. A business number is a unique, 9-digit number given by Canada Revenue Agency. This number identifies the type of business or legal entity you operate. The business number enables you to apply for a CRA Program account required for a few reasons and more. You need a CRA Program Account if you intend to operate a GST/HST account, manage payroll or start an importing/exporting business. The CRA program account is in three parts – your nine-digit business number +two letters program identifier code + four digits reference number. Here are the letter program identification used for different business purposes;

RT= GST/HST Program Account (if you want to register to charge tax)

RP = Payroll Deductions Program Account (if you hire employees on payroll)

RM = Import and Export Program Account

RC = Corporation Income Tax Program Account (if you need to pay corporate taxes)

RR = Registered Charity Program Account (If you plan to register a charity)

So, your number for an importing business should be like this – 123456789 RM 0001. Read this article to learn more about when you need a business number and a CRA program account.


Well, as an Importer, you need to know what you are importing. You should gather this information from the seller or supplier. The supplier should be able to provide you with a Certificate of Origin. The certificate of origin must have a full description of your product composition. All the ingredients used in producing the product and its country of origin.  Yeap! Everything, my dear. Your certificate of origin affects the tariff classification of your imported goods.  


Like every other business – starting a business, buying a business – you may need help when operating an importing business. If you are comfortable working with the Canada Border Services Agency, you could go through this guide to learn more about importing into Canada. If not, you could authorize a Licensed Customs Broker to act as your agent to transact business.

Read the following guides if you want to import

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