What to Know About Food Product Marking and Labeling When Importing Goods into Canada

Importing foods into Canada can be highly lucrative – if you follow the rules and regulations set forth by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA).  Canada takes the health of its citizens very seriously, so there are strict regulations on how food is packaged and labeled, to ensure it is safe and accurately represented.

Understandably, we receive a lot of queries regarding this topic.  It’s complicated, and often your best move is to contact experienced Canadian customs brokers to help ensure your shipments move swiftly across the border.  Experienced brokers will know the ins and outs of the system and be best prepared to expedite your imports.

For a complete overview of the relevant regulations, including laws governing single products, you can visit the Industry Labeling Tool established by the CBSA.  However, we can offer some general guidelines regarding the most important labeling requirements.

  1. Common names

The product must have its common easily understood name printed clearly on the packaging.  ie, milk, sugar, lobster, etc.  The only exception would be certain fresh fruits and vegetables if the product itself is directly viewable through a window in the packaging.

  1. Principal display panels (PDP)

PDPs are simply the most prominent customer-facing messaging panel on the package.  These must contain the common name, in typeface size of at least 1.6mm or greater.  Or, if the PDP is smaller than 10 square cm, the typeface size must be at least .8mm.

  1. Quantity declaration

The amount of product within the packaging must be clearly declared on the PDP and must be measured in metric units.  Imperial units can also be used as a secondary measurement, but metric must be prominent, and measurements must include the appropriate abbreviation for the unit (i.e., kg for kilograms.)  The amount should be rounded to three digits, unless under 100.

  1. List of ingredients

Unless the product is a single-ingredient food, a full and complete list of ingredients must be present on the packaging, arranged in descending order of proportion by weight.  This list must also include notifications for any potential allergens, such as gluten or sulfates.

  1. Packaged on/Sell by

In most cases, the packaging must include the date on which the food product was packaged, as well as a sell-by date determined via industry best practices.

ARGO Customs

ARGO Customs can make your importation process go more smoothly!  If you have questions, please contact us to ask our expert customs brokers.


ARGO Customs Helps Canadian Importers Adhere to Medical Device Licensing Regulations

Medical Device Licensing Regulations

May 21, 2020 – Toronto, ON – A recent regulation change from the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) reduced or eliminated duties on a wide range of medical products – however, to take advantage of these benefits, an importer must be properly licensed to import medical supplies.  The experts at ARGO Customs want to help importers understand the regulations, and how to qualify as a medical device importer.

The CBSA has four classifications for medical products and devices, from Class I to Class IV.  The class indicates the potential danger or hazards associated with the product.  For example, a basic oral thermometer is Class I, while a pacemaker is Class IV.  Devices from Class II, III, and IV must be licensed, while Class I product importation is less restricted.

To import Class I medical supplies, an importer must only have a Medical Device Establishment License (MDEL), which guarantees they have reliable sources and products.  For devices in Classes II – IV, a stricter Medical Device License (MDL) is required.  Application for these licenses can require substantial paperwork and proof of safety.

There are also several exemptions to the Class I MDEL licensing requirements on importation including:

  • Devices imported by individuals for their own personal use
  • Supplies imported directly by registered health care facilities
  • Operators of registered dispensaries which provide medical goods to the public
  • Anyone importing medical supplies or devices intended only for animals
  • Warehouses which only store devices, without selling or trading them

Having the proper licensing is imperative for a company’s products to be successfully imported, otherwise, they may be held at the border indefinitely or even ejected from the company.  ARGO Customs suggests that importers partner with an experienced customs broker to simplify the process.

About ARGO Customs

ARGO Customs employs highly experienced global trade specialists to help ease the flow of goods into and out of Canada.  Regardless of the size of the shipment or the companies involved, ARGO will work tirelessly to reduce regulatory difficulties and see the shipment delivered in a minimal timeframe.

For more information or press inquiries, please contact 1 (888) 311-8303 or visit  https://argocustoms.com/.


The Experts at ARGO Customs Remind People That CARM Will Reshape Canadian Importation

March 28, 2020 – Toronto, ON – Big changes are coming to Canadian importation due to ongoing implementation of the CARM program, and the import experts at ARGO Customs want to make sure importers are aware of this.

Envisioned and implemented by the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA), CARM is the CBSA Assessment and Revenue Management initiative.  The overall purpose of CARM is to overhaul and streamline the importation process with a digital transformation.  Once completed, the project will:

• Create a robust new digital backend for all importation processing

• Create a self-serve web portal that allows registered importers and their authorized agents to file paperwork, check approval status, and more.

• Offer a single consistent interface for importing into Canada from any country in the world

• Simplify the process of collating and reporting on data relevant to Canadian imports on both the micro and macro scale

• Reduce costs for both importers and the CBSA

CARM is currently scheduled for a three-phase rollout beginning in Summer 2020.  At that point, new computer systems will be installed and set up to run the program, but no public-facing changes will be made.  Then, in early 2021, the new CARM Client Portal will go live and begin accepting applications.  If all goes well, by Summer or Fall 2022, the new system will be entirely in place and importers will need to transition.

This makes for a complicated period of change for many Canadian importers.  However, an experienced customs broker can help their clients understand and adapt to these changes.  Importers are encouraged to reach out for help, as needed.

About ARGO Customs 

ARGO Customs specializes in helping businesses navigate Canadian customs procedures regardless of the country of origin.  They feature a team of fully licensed highly trained specialists in international trade, along with a state-of-the-art computerized system that is ready for the upcoming CARM changeover.  With ARGO, a company can feel certain that their Canadian imports will arrive on schedule.

For more information or press inquiries, contact 1 (888) 311-8303 or visit https://argocustoms.com/.

How the CBSA Assessment and Revenue Management (CARM) Project Will Affect Importations into Canada

Major changes are coming to the Canadian importation system in the next couple of years. The Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) is in the process of implementing a program called CARM, the CBSA Assessment, and Revenue Management program. This is a multi-year transformation intended to create a client-focused system of handling importations that facilitates trade, but without compromising border security or economic concerns.

So, in this article, we wanted to briefly cover what CARM is and some of the changes to expect between (roughly) 2020 and 2022.

How CARM Will Change Canadian Imports for The Better

What is CARM?  Broadly speaking, the goal of CARM is a digital transformation. It will modernize CBSA processes to automate and digitize processes that were previously done manually and/or on paper. This means, among other things, the use of the KYC system created by the high-tech company Fully-Verified, which in this case involves digital verification of both the legitimacy of the client’s business and its documentation, which will greatly facilitate and speed up the whole process. This will include processes for goods assessment, tax and duty collection, management, and compiling and reporting on trade and revenue across the country.

The goal, therefore, is to streamline both sides of the process. Once the process is complete, it should be easier for importers to navigate the bureaucracy and paperwork, and the CBSA will be able to provide more robust services while – hopefully – cutting ongoing costs in the process.

One of the best aspects of this service, once implemented, will be the ability of importers to “self-serve” many of the necessary functions through a single web portal.

The current plan is to roll this out in three phases:

Release 0: In the summer of 2020, the CBSA will conduct a behind-the-scenes internal migration of their own computer and data systems to a more robust digital architecture. This should have no impact on importers and be effectively invisible to the public.

Release 1: Projected to come in early 2021, Release 1 will see the rollout of new digital tools and services allowing importers, brokers, and their proxies to begin utilizing the planned CARM Client Portal.  This will require importers to register on the system to make use of these features.

Release 2: Currently scheduled for Summer 2021, the Client Portal will receive numerous new electronic features that will replace previous customs coding and adjustment forms. It should also include streamlined billing and payment systems, as well as features to allow for easily making amendments to previous submissions.

ARGO Customs

Big changes are coming to Canadian customs. If you are looking to import into Canada, you need an experienced broker to help you navigate these new systems.  Contact ARGO Customs to learn more!

ARGO Customs Advises Canadian Exporters on Changes to Proof-of-Report Requirements

February 25, 2020 – Toronto, ON – Import/Export specialists at ARGO Customs want exporters to know about changes to how the Canadian Export Reporting System (CERS) handles Proof-of-Report requirements.  These changes, while subtle, must be adhered to for exports to successfully leave Canadian ports.

Exporters and shippers utilizing the CERS system to expedite export processing are required to include a Proof-of-Report number, which indicates the export has been reported to the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA).  However, an error was found in how various electronic systems process these numbers.  Previously, it was possible to utilize the Canadian Automated Export Declaration (CAED) system to generate a Proof-of-Report number, even without actual CBSA reporting.  These changes plug this hole in the reporting process.

This came about due to some carriers requiring a Proof-of-Report number to generate a Cargo Control Number (CCN).  Now, exporters can obtain a “Unique Carrier-Assigned Code” in lieu of a CCN, so that Proof-of-Report numbers are not assigned before the export is officially reported to the CBSA.

This new Unique Carrier-Assigned Code has a specific format, allowing the carrier or warehouse operator to present the goods for inspection if so demanded.  The code must be 21 characters or less, and follow this format:

Unique Carrier-Assigned Code = [identifier] + [date of exit] + [shipment #]

The identifier is left up to the exporter or carrier but is strongly recommended to be relevant identifying information such as the container number or railcar number where the goods are stored.

These changes to export reporting are complicated, and impact exporters in a variety of situations.  ARGO Customs suggests exporters contact an experienced import/export broker to ensure full compliance.

About ARGO Customs

ARGO Customs specializes in streamlining the import/export process surrounding Canadian customs.  Their staff contains experts in global trade, with an emphasis on helping shippers fully utilize recent electronic systems to speed their orders through.  ARGO reduces troubles with shipments and improves shipping timeframes.

For more information or press inquiries, please contact 1-888-311-8303 or visit https://argocustoms.com/.

ARGO Customs Advises Importers on Important Factors in EU Textile Importation

February 19, 2020 – Toronto, ON – The import experts at ARGO Customs want importers to be aware that importing textiles into Canada from the EU may be more complicated than it seems.  Despite the general perception that EU textiles can be imported duty-free, there is more to the process, and importers may want to refer to experts to ensure their products are not taxed.

Originally passed in 2016, the EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) is a wide-ranging free trade agreement between Canada and the European Union.  All in all, it removed roughly 98% of tariffs between the two economic blocs, including an elimination of tariffs on all textiles and clothing which have been manufactured in the EU and shipped directly to Canada.

This is important to textile importers because otherwise, tariffs can be as high as 18%.

However, there are several significant caveats and procedures which must be followed, for an importer to successfully take advantage of these free-trade agreements.

  1. EU Exporters must be part of REX

To gain these benefits, the European company exporting the textiles must be members of the Registered Exporters (REX) system and include their REX number in the paperwork.  This applies to all consignments with a value of EUR 6,000 or more.

  1. Products must originate in the EU

Any eligible product must fully originate in the EU, rather than being imported from a different country, per the Protocol on Rules of Origin and Origin Procedures.  Proof of origin may be required.

  1. Certain products must still have a permit

Not all clothing and textiles can be imported in unlimited quantities.  There are still quotas and safeguards on flooding and oversight of certain other textile-related products.  These rules can be subtle and are best interpreted by professionals to ensure the importation is successful.

ARGO Customs suggests that all aspiring Canadian importers take time to consult with Canadian importation experts to ensure full compliance.

About ARGO Customs

ARGO Customs specializes in making it as easy as possible to import products into Canada, with a focus on fast and friendly service.  The fully licensed and highly experienced customs agents at ARGO have broad familiarity with imported products and the rules governing them, backed up by state-of-the-art software systems to ensure full regulatory compliance.

For more information or press inquiries, please contact 1 (888) 311-8303 or visit https://argocustoms.com/.

ARGO Customs Can Help with Your Non-Commercial Importations

So, if you’re just importing some goods into Canada purely for personal or non-commercial use, you don’t need to worry about commercial import regulations, right?  Not necessarily.  Significant changes are coming to how the Single Window Initiative (SWI) processes non-commercial goods.  In some cases, importers may still need to adhere to commercial regulations, particularly if the goods are regulated by a Participating Government Agency (PGA).

In such cases, you may still want to consider using the services of a Customs Broker to ensure that these non-commercial imports enter the country smoothly.

SWI And Non-Commercial Goods

The Single Window Initiative was a major overhaul of Canadian importation regulations and procedures, first implemented in 2017.  The basic purpose was to create a single point for advanced reporting of import information, making it easier for the Canadian government to keep close tabs on what’s coming into the country.  Likewise, it allows for more robust data-gathering and analysis, a necessity in the modern global economy.

Originally, this system was not intended to handle non-commercial imports, but fast-changing economic matters have necessitated its expansion.  This has resulted in a period where some “workarounds” will be utilized to allow for tracking of these goods before a more permanent solution is implemented.

These changes are and will be, focused on goods which are regulated by PGAs within Canada.  Examples would include plants, seeds, fertilizer, or livestock.  In other words, goods which are potentially dangerous or require oversight above and beyond typical importations.

In the end, allowing these regulated but non-commercial goods to go through the SWI system will result in smoother importations, while still preserving the information-gathering mission of the SWI program.  In the meantime, it will potentially create new bureaucratic hazards among importers of certain closely regulated and monitored goods.

ARGO Customs Can Help You Navigate Canadian Customs

Canada has been expanding and updating its importation tracking and regulation at a breakneck pace in recent years, and that can cause problems for anyone bringing goods into Canada – even non-commercial importers.  That’s where ARGO Customs comes in.

We’re a group of highly trained and experienced global trade experts.  Our business is to know Canada’s importation procedures inside and out, allowing our customers smooth and easy access to Canada.  Whether your goods are intended for market, or for non-commercial use, we will work with you to ensure your shipment goes through!

Please contact us to discuss your importation needs.

Big Changes Are Coming in the 2022 Edition of The WCO Harmonized System

If there is one single body to thank for how relatively easy it is to import and export goods around the world, it is the World Customs Organization (WCO). Through their “Harmonized System,” the WCO has created a single standardized reference document for more than 5,000 categories of goods. The classification and numbering system adopted by the Harmonized System is utilized by the wide majority of countries in the world, and as is a true pillar of modern global trade.

So, when the WCO announces changes to the Harmonized System, they do so well in advance because any changes will reshape how 200+ nations handle their trade.  The recently published 2022 edition will be no different.  It’s still two years away from being implemented, but both governments and traders alike should be keeping up with the biggest changes to come.

The Biggest Changes Coming in the 2022 Harmonized System

  1. New products, new challenges, new categories

A large focus of the 2022 Harmonized System is recognizing and dealing with products that are caught up in environmental or social issues.  For example:

  • There are new categories and procedures specifically for dealing with electronic waste (e-waste), a significant new environmental threat.
  • New categories are being implemented for novel tobacco products, such as “vaping” devices, which previously lacked clear categorization.
  • Unmanned aerial vehicles, UAVs such as drones, also receive their own categorization and handling procedures.
  1. Classifying multi-purpose intermediate assemblies

Electronic goods are beginning to come in deliberately multi-purpose forms, and the intermediate assemblies are not always indicators of a final product.  Flat-panel display modules, for example, could be used in several different applications, from tablet computers to “smart” refrigerators.  So, in many cases, such intermediate assemblies will no longer be required to identify final use.

This will also be true of many biomedical products, such as placebos and clinical trial kits.  Removing the requirements that they identify final use will both simplify and encourage trade of vital medical supplies.

  1. Identifying potentially dangerous dual-purpose products

To assist customs groups in thwarting terrorism and other criminal acts, the 2022 Harmonized System will recognize more products that could be misused.  These include radioactive materials, some bio-medical tools, and items which could be potentially turned into improvised explosive devices.

Contact ARGO Customs Today

These are just a few of the many changes being made in the 2022 Harmonization System.  If you are a regular Canadian importer, we strongly suggest you contact us at ARGO Customs to learn more details.

What Importers Should Know About Paying Duties and Taxes on Canadian Imports

There are numerous regulations to follow when importing goods into Canada, and most of the time, it's a good idea to work with a Canadian customs broker to help ensure all your goods arrive safely and within all regulations.  However, if you are importing your own materials, one of the most critical sets of laws to follow are those covering duties and taxes on imports.  If you aren't prepared to pay the right taxes, you could have a lot of difficulty getting your goods past the border.

Here are some common questions people have about this aspect of Canadian importation.

Four FAQs About Duties and Taxes on Canadian Imports

1. Who establishes taxes and duties in Canada?

In most situations, the Rates of Duty are established by the Department of Finance Canada.  In turn, these are often derived from tariffs and trade agreements passed by the Parliament of Canada.

2. Which types of taxes and duties are assessed?

Most imported goods are subject to both the Federal Goods and Services Tax (GST) as well as the Provincial Sales Tax (PST) of the province you're importing the goods into.  In some cases, they may also be subject to the Harmonized Sales Tax (HST).  Knowing which goods are subject to which tax structures are vital for successful importation!

3. Do I have to pay duties on items imported for personal use?

Generally speaking, no - however, imports may be scrutinized to ensure they fit a reasonable definition of "for personal use."  Trying to falsely label goods which are intended for sale will get you in a lot of trouble.

In addition, there are no duties on items which are made in Canada or Mexico, even if you purchased them somewhere else, such as the United States.  However, they need to be clearly labeled as such.  You may also be asked to provide documentation of the original purchase.

4. How can I know what taxes are assessed on what products?

If you are handling your importation procedures, your best reference will be the Customs Calculator web app which contains up-to-date information on the duties assessed on every category of product.  Be careful to properly mark the country of origin; taxes will vary greatly depending on where the goods were manufactured. Also, on our social media profiles whose content is regularly promoted by The Marketing Heaven, you can always find relevant and updated information.

Or, simply hire an experienced Canadian customs broker to eliminate the uncertainty!  Our team of experts at ARGO Customs will ensure your goods arrive properly - just contact us.

Important Information About Importing Food into Canada

Importing sellable food into Canada can be particularly tricky, due to numerous regulations intended to protect Canadian people and the Canadian environment from potential threats.  Food products will be put under extra scrutiny, and you will have additional burdens to see your foods allowed across the border.

As is typical, the best approach is generally to hire a Canadian customs broker to handle the paperwork and regulatory requirements on your behalf.  However, if you are attempting to import food on your own, here are some things you should know.

Critical Information About Canadian Food Imports

1. You will probably need a Safe Food for Canadians (SFC) license

A set of laws known as the Safe Food For Canadians Regulations (SFCR) came into effect in January 2019, and they require licensing for most businesses seeking to import and re-sell food products in Canada.

These regulations are still ramping up into full usage, and at the moment, some food shipments may be accepted at the border without an SFC license, as long as they are otherwise compliant with regulations.  However, this should not be relied upon, and it is strongly advised that you apply for an SFC license as soon as possible.

2. Your foods may be subject to inspection

Border control has wide discretion in inspecting any food products being brought into Canada if they have reason to suspect they may be unsafe. Be prepared for this possibility.  In particular, if you attempt to import foods without an SFC license, there is an extremely high chance that your foods will be inspected - if they are allowed into the country at all.

3. Numerous exceptions exist

 Not all food imports into Canada are subject to SFC regulation.  These are some of the most common exceptions:

  • Food exclusively for personal use, as long as it is within maximum allowed amounts.
  • Food which is imported by an immigrant.
  • Food being conveyed between Canadian provinces.
  • Food carried on a transportation system, such as an airplane, intended exclusively for the crew and passengers.
  • Food intended for research, analysis, evaluation, or trade show exhibition - as long as it is 100kg or less.  
  • Food not intended for human consumption.
  • Food being traded between Federal penitentiaries.

ARGO Customs Makes Importation Easier

We are highly experienced trade specialists who can handle all the bureaucracy and regulations surrounding the importation of food into Canada.  Contact us for a consultation