Canada’s Rules On Marking And Labeling Imports

Marking and labeling requirements are largely unknown to many foreign exporters looking to import their products into Canada. We are often asked what requirements these companies must meet. However, this can be a tricky subject for Customs Brokers to cover as some labeling requirements fall outside of Customs Act legislation which is enforced by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), whereas marking requirements do. To learn more about the difference between the two, and to understand the requirements of each, keep reading.

What Is The Difference Between Marking And Labeling Requirements?

The difference comes down to timing and jurisdiction or regulating authority.

When to mark goods

Marking of goods occurs prior to importing into Canada and refers to the Country of Origin. Marking is not to be confused with Labeling which is enforced after the goods are imported and before they are sold.

Marking is regulated by CBSA

Marking is enforced by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) at the time of importation. The Country of Origin marking requirements are set out in the Canada Customs Act. Marking is the notation of the country of manufacture on the imported product. The regulations for marking are found in CBSA Memorandum D11-3-1:

“Certain goods when imported into Canada are required to be marked to indicate clearly the country in which the goods were made. The foreign exporter or producer usually applies the country of origin marking. However, Canadian importers are responsible for ensuring that imported goods comply with marking requirements at the time they imported the goods.” (D11-3-1)

D11-3-1 explains what goods require marking and what goods are exempt. In addition, it explains the method and manner of marking.

Marking examples for American goods

In general, the marking of goods from both CUSMA (Canada, US, Mexico, Agreement, also known as USMCA or T-MEC) and non-CUSMA countries must clearly indicate the Country of Origin of the goods.

Therefore, markings would appear as “Made in USA,” “Made in Canada,” “Made in Mexico,” “Made in China,” depending on their origin.

Marking language requirements

When goods are imported from CUSMA countries or from the non-CUSMA country of Honduras, marking shall be in English, French, or Spanish.

For goods imported from all other non-CUSMA countries, marking shall be in English or French.

Failure to mark penalties are cumulative

Failure to mark goods may result in the application of a penalty by CBSA of $150 on first offense, $225 on second and $450 on third. The penalty applies to each shipment. In addition to the penalty, the importer will be required to mark the goods appropriately.

How To Label Goods

Labeling occurs once the goods are imported. The importer must determine that the goods meet the specific labeling requirements before they are sold.

Product labeling is regulated by various parties depending on the product

Labeling requirements are established under other Canadian federal laws, regulations, policies and guidelines and under provincial laws and are not enforced by CBSA at the time of importation. However, some Participating Government Agencies (PGAs) like the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) have labeling requirements such as the case with food.

How to determine labeling and product certification requirements in Canada

The label requirements vary according to the product and can be reviewed on the Canadian Legal Information website along with any specific certification requirements that must be met before sale in Canada.

Labeling examples for goods imported into Canada

Here is an example of labeling requirements for prepackaged consumer goods regulated under The Canadian Consumer Packaging and Labeling Act:

All labels must be bilingual in English and French and the following information must appear on the package/label of consumer goods sold in Canada:

  • Product Identity Declaration: Describes a product’s common or generic name, or its function. The declaration must be in both English and French.
  • Net Quantity Declaration: Must be expressed in metric units of volume when the product is a liquid or a gas or is viscous; or in metric units of weight when the product is solid; or by numerical count. Net quantity may also be expressed in other established trade terms.
  • Dealer’s Name and Principal Place of Business: Where the prepackaged product was manufactured or produced for resale. In general, a name and address enough for postal delivery will be acceptable. This information can be in either English or French.

Food labeling requirements are regulated by the CFIA and the Food and Drug Regulations. Marking must include the following:

For more information on how to label your specific commodities please review the Government of Canada’s labeling requirements website.

marking and labeling requirements
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About Author
Jan Brock

Jan Brock joined Pacific Customs Brokers in 2015 as a Senior Trade Advisor. She retired from Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) in 2015 after serving more than 37 years. Jan started her career with CBSA as a summer student in 1976 and worked part-time until she graduated from U.B.C. with a Bachelor of Education Degree in 1980 . Shortly after graduating from U.B.C. Jan worked full time as an inspector with CBSA and within three years was promoted to Superintendent. She served some time in the Regional Operations office as an Operations Review Officer before she was promoted to Chief of Operations first at the Customs Mail Centre, then in the Metro District as the Commercial Chief and ending her career as a Chief at Pacific Highway Commercial Operations where she served as Chief from 1992 to 2015. During her career she was a member of the Customs Drug Team and a trainer in the National Enforcement Program. Jan also served as the Regional Coordinator Officer Powers and Use of Force for the Pacific Region. Jan served on many Commercial Program Reviews and committees both national and regional during her career and possesses an expansive knowledge of importing and exporting into and from Canada.

While we strive for accuracy in all our communications, as the Importer of Record it is incumbent upon your company to ensure that you are aware of the requirements under the new regulations so that you maintain compliance as always.