How Other Government Departments Facilitate The Flow Of Your Imported Goods

How Other Government Departments Facilitate The Flow Of Your Imported Goods

In addition to Canada Border Services Agency, there are over 10 other government departments (OGDs) and agencies that are involved in the importation, in-transit movement and exportation of various commodities in and out of Canada. Other government departments (OGDs) and agencies ensure that prohibited and controlled goods are not illegally imported into, or exported out of, the country. As an importer, you must ensure that your goods comply with the requirements of all other government departments and agencies prior to importation into Canada.

OGD requisites will help you determine if the goods you are exporting are controlled, prohibited or regulated. In addition to the standard customs documentation these departments may require special permits, certificates, licenses, special labeling, or a specific type of packaging (i.e. child resistant) depending on the commodity. This must be obtained before the goods are released by Canada Border Services Agency. Shipments may be subject to examination by customs officers to verify marking or proper labeling that meet Canadian import requirements prior to releasing the shipment into Canada. If the requirements have not been met, the shipment can be refused entry.

Goods Subject To Other Government Department Requirements

Examples of products that are regulated by other government departments include:

  • Perishables
  • Animals
  • Flowers and seeds
  • Firearms
  • Some appliances
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Vehicles

CBSA has compiled the following list of commonly imported commodities that may require permits, certificates, and/or are subject to other requirements:

Common OGDs You Should Know About

Below are some of the most common OGDs that you will encounter in your import process:

How To Import Into Canada

1. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA)

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is responsible for the inspection and enforcement of regulations for food safety and nutritional quality, as defined by Health Canada. In other words, they regulate the import of food products, plants, animals and related products.

Many exotic plant pest organisms capable of causing economic loss to Canadian agricultural production can be transported in soil and related matter. CFIA import requirements and inspection procedures help prevent soiled products, pests and disease from entering Canada through these types of products. The CFIA works in conjunction with the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), and Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada, to regulate the importation of foods.

CFIA Import Requirements:

CFIA's Automated Import Reference System (AIRS), an automated import reference system, should be used as the first step to determine import requirements for products regulated by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. To use the AIRS tool, you will require a complete description of your goods, HS code, country of origin, and end use of the product being imported.  This tool will advise you of any additional documentation requirements for imports into Canada.

For most items, CFIA will review the documentation for approval. In certain circumstances, they will require additional permits, certificates or an inspection conducted by a CFIA officer.

2. Fisheries And Oceans Canada  (DFO)

Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) protects the import of aquatic invasive species and fish products by monitoring and enforcing regulations to minimize impacts on cross-border trade of fish and seafood products.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada Import Requirements:

A fish import license is required by the importer in order to import any products containing fish. In the case of some imports, a shellfish license may also be required.

3. Health Canada

Health Canada regulates consumer goods such as drugs, pharmaceuticals, vitamins, cosmetics, medical devices, natural health products, pesticides, radiation-emitting devices, toxic substances and some food products.

Health Canada Import Requirements:

Importation requirements can differ depending on which schedule the drug falls under. They may require an ingredient list and Health Canada approval.  Some products may require the Drug Identification Number (DIN), and cosmetic notifications after import.

For more information regarding requirements for importation of the products addressed, we recommend reviewing the Health Canada website, or contacting Health Canada directly with any questions.

4. Natural Resources Canada

Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) regulates the import of explosives including firearms and ammunition, as well as metals and minerals and some regulated energy-using products such as appliances.

Natural Resources Canada Import Requirements:

Natural Resources Canada seeks to enhance the responsible development and use of Canada's Natural Resources. NRCan requires the manufacturer information, the make and model, the size and the reason for import.

5. Transport Canada

Transport Canada regulates the import of vehicles, tires, and the transportation of dangerous goods with the intent to promote safe, secure and environmentally responsible transportation.

Transport Canada Import Requirements:

Some Transport Canada regulated items such as vehicles, will require approval prior to import to ensure that they meet the Canada Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (CMVSS).

The Cost Of Customs Compliance Part 2 | Not As Expensive As One Might Think

How OGD Requirements Affect Importers:

The needed additional OGD data and requirements could add to an importer's time and costs. It may also increase the potential for delays in the release of your goods at the border and fines due to non-compliance such as Administrative Penalty System (AMPS). For example, other government departments generally require two hours to process the documents prior to the review of the entry by Canada Border Services Agency.

How To Prevent Lengthy Delays Or Additional Charges:

To help avoid the inconveniences of border delays and additional charges in releasing OGD goods:

  1. Provide accurate and complete information in order to identify and make appropriate decisions.
  2. Identify your commodity correctly. Determining whether your product is regulated by other government departments is a key element in processing OGD regulated goods efficiently.

You may wish to contact OGDs directly for more information. They would certainly be able to provide advice on any additional document requirements for the product being imported. You can find links to other government agencies and departments at:

OGDs are becoming more stringent with regard to imports. New, additional OGD requirements are being implemented all the time. It is crucial that as an importer you are aware of these regulations to ensure correct processing and compliance of your shipments that might be subject to OGD requirements.

Many importers find it challenging to identify products subject to OGD requirements and access easily understandable information about those requirements. Should this sound familiar, please do not hesitate to contact our team of Import Specialists who are experienced in handling the import and export of commodities subject to OGD requirements. They can also offer consultation prior to import or export to determine whether your goods will require additional documentation or if specific considerations may be involved when clearing your goods at the border.

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About the Author
Gloria Terhaar
CCS (CA/US), CTCS, CBSA Prof. Designate

Gloria Terhaar began her career in Canadian customs brokerage 2007. She currently works in our Canadian division as a Trade Compliance Supervisor and Regulatory Compliance Specialist. Gloria has extensive experience in all aspects of documentation and regulatory requirements as they relate to importing products into Canada. Gloria is often called upon to train industry with some recent talks for MNP, the Surrey Board of Trade, TFO Canada and the BC Produce Marketing Association. In 2018, Gloria also participated in the Canadian Produce Marketing Association and the Canadian Horticultural Council advocacy event "Fall Harvest" in Ottawa where she participated in advocacy efforts for the Canadian produce industry.

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.