How to Prepare to Import Goods into Canada

Canada is a thriving market that brings in business deals from all over the world, with plenty of businesses looking to begin importing their products.  However, as a well-regulated economy, becoming a legal Canadian importer can be a bit challenging.  There are numerous bureaucratic requirements to fulfill before you can begin bringing in stock.

A skilled Canadian customs broker can do a lot to make this process easier!  But if you’re trying to complete the process yourself, here are some of the most important elements.

Five Must-Dos to Legally Import Goods into Canada

1. Obtain a business number

To do any sort of business within Canada, you need an official Business Number (BN) issued by the Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA).  This can be done via two methods:

2. Gather information on your goods

You may be required to submit a wide variety of information and documentation on the goods you plan to import.  This is necessary to determine the type of good and its tariff classification.  If at all possible, have product samples on-hand.

3. Identify the correct country of origin for each good

Anything imported must have a clear and accurate country of origin.  This is the country in which the good was originally created, not necessarily where you purchased it.

Memorandum D11-4-2 outlines the documentation needed to demonstrate this.

4. Verify all goods are legal to import

As with nearly all countries, Canada regulates what can be imported.  Memoranda Series D9 covers items which are prohibited.  

Also, you will need to determine if these goods are subject to any specific regulations or restrictions.  The most commonly-affected goods are listed in the  Other Government Departments and Agencies: Reference List for Importers.  If your goods aren’t listed there, you will also want to check Memoranda Series D19 for a more complete list.

In addition, some goods may be subject to specific tariffs and fees, as covered in the Special Import Measures Act (SIMA).

5. Consider working with a Canadian customs broker

While not a legal requirement, partnering with a Canadian customs broker will make this process far easier.  The fees charged by your broker will be far less than the fees or seized cargo you’ll be risking if you make a mistake on your paperwork.

ARGO Customs

To learn more about simplifying the process of Canadian importation, contact ARGO Customs.

ARGO Customs Informs Importers About Important Changes to Aluminum Import Procedures

September 15, 2019 - Toronto, ON - The customs regulations experts at ARGO Customs wants importers to be aware of a major change to aluminum importation procedures. Effective September 1, 2019, certain aluminum products were added to the Import Control List (ICL), labeled as Item 83. When being imported, these products must cite a General Import Permit (GIP) on their B3 documentation. This is being done to increase surveillance of the sources of the aluminum being brought into Canada and collect increased data on these sources.

These new regulations affect all unwrought aluminum products, both alloyed and not alloyed, as well as the following wrought products:

• Bars
• Rods
• Profiles
• Wires
• Plates
• Sheets
• Strips
• Foils
• Tubes and pipes
• Tube and pipe fittings
• Other casings and forgings listed in item 83 of the ICL

This will have a significant impact on importers, who must retain all documents and records relating to these imports for six years following initial importation. At any time, Global Affairs Canada may require them to provide detailed documentation of the imports. This would include the importer's name and address, proof of Canadian residency, country(s) of origin, tariff classification, and a description of the goods.

ARGO Customs recommends that importers study the new regulations carefully to ensure compliance. If importers are uncertain as to their responsibilities, ARGO Customs is happy to assist with questions or concerns.

About ARGO Customs

ARGO Customs specializes in helping their customers navigate Canadian import and export procedures, ensuring rapid deliveries with a minimum of increased costs. ARGO Customs hosts a team of highly experienced, fully licensed international trade specialists, backed by custom software designed to streamline the bureaucracy associated with Canadian imports and exports. With ARGO on their side, clients around the world can engage in Canadian trade with confidence.

For more information or press inquiries, contact: 1 (888) 311-8303 or visit

The Effect of Bill C-47 and What You Need to Know

On December 13, 2018, Parliament passed, and royal assent was given to Bill C-47 which amended the Export and Import Permits Act to more strictly control the export of weapons, specifically, by adopting the Arms Trade Treaty. The Arms Trade Treaty seeks to reduce the human rights abuses committed abroad by (primarily) Western-made weapons and weapon systems. Bill C-47 entered into force on September 1, 2019, therefore affected companies are not required to comply with it.

The Arms Trade Treaty (and Bill C-47) requires the Government to consider several criteria before granting an export license for certain military items, strategy and dual-use goods which can be incorporated into a weapon of mass destruction end uses. These permit controls apply internally and to Canadian citizens abroad.

Specifically, the Government must consider the following factors before issuing a permit:

  1. Will the technology or goods contribute to security or peace or undermine it;
  2. Will the goods or technology be used to commit serious:
    1. Violations of human rights law;
    2. Violations of humanitarian law;
    3. Violations of conventions or transnational to which Canada is a party or member (i.e., conventions against torture, et);
    4. Gender-based violence;
    5. Violence against children; or
    6. Violence against women.

Furthermore, Bill C-47 requires exporters to comply with pre-notification and reporting requirements before they export full-system conventional arms to the United States. The Government maintains several lists: Area Control; Brokering Control; Export Control; Automatic Firearms Control; and Import Control, which detail which goods or technology require a permit.

Finally, failure to comply with these new rules could result in criminal penalties and fines of up to $250,000.

Contact ARGO Customs Today

If you need assistance applying for a permit under the new regulatory regime established by Bill C-47, then consider contacting Argo Customs brokers for assistance. Our brokers have decades of experience navigating Canada’s legal and regulatory framework to help our clients find the best way to get their goods into and out of Canada. Contact our team today.

ARGO Customs Informs Canadian Exporters That Mandatory Electronic Reporting Is Coming

August 15, 2019 - Toronto, ON - The expert exporters at ARGO Customs want all Canadian exporters to know about coming changes to Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) regulations which will affect all outgoing shipments. Beginning June 30, 2020, the CBSA will no longer accept the paper Export Declaration Form B13A. Instead, all exports will be required to be submitted electronically.

There will be two electronic methods in place for exporters to utilize:

1. The G7 Export Reporting Electronic Data Interchange (G7-EDI)

The G7-EDI system currently exists and can be used immediately. This exchange works across the G7 nations, and significantly reduces the paperwork required for imports and exports. However, it does require an investment from the exporting client.

2. The Canadian Export Reporting System (CERS)

CERS is under development and will be seen as the primary alternative to the previous paper processes, as well as a replacement for the CAED system. It is scheduled to go live on or about March 16, 2020. If an exporter is already using the CAED system, they will be notified directly about how to activate their CERS account and migrate over to the new system.

Exporters should also be aware that one aspect of exporting reporting regulations will not change: Any goods being exported which require a permit will still need paper filing. Both the paper copy of the electronic export declaration submission, as well as the permit from the other government department (OGD) will need to be presented at the place authorizing the export. If no single place is specified, the paperwork will need to be filed at whichever CBSA reporting office is closest to where the goods will be exiting Canada.

These new changes may create some disruption at first, but ARGO Customs believes they are for the best. Paperless electronic systems speed up approvals and streamline the cargo shipment process. Once transitioned, this should be a money-saving measure for everyone involved.

About ARGO Customs

ARGO Customs is dedicated to helping Canadian shippers handle the logistical and bureaucratic burdens associated with importing and exporting. They have a full staff of fully licensed international trade specialists, with a wide and deep range of experience in their history. ARGO's state-of-the-art software solutions simplify the paperwork and utilize electronic submission whenever possible to further speed up the process.

For more information or press inquiries, call 1 (888) 311-8303 or visit

How to Efficiently Process Your Marine Container Through the Canadian Border

The Canada Border Services Agency (“CBSA”) is responsible for processing marine containers (and more broadly, all goods that seek to enter Canada). The CBSA is charged with ensuring that these goods do not pose a danger to Canada and Canadians while ensuring that goods pass through the border as seamlessly as possible.


In that vein, a substantial majority of marine containers are authorized and processed by the CBSA with little or no delay. The CBSA spot checks a handful of containers which is based on a random selection and relative risk assessment by using advanced technology to reduce the burden on importers. The CBSA is responsible for inspections of marine containers, but it does not charge for (1) the movement of containers nor for (2) the loading and reloading of containers.

The commercial examination process is conducted by a combination of stakeholders who handle specific roles and government inspectors. The CBSA conducts the examinations but does not charge a fee, control, or influence the movement of containers to and from CBSA facilities nor the reload and offload of containers (however, the stakeholders may see more below).

The CBSA completes its examination in approximately 24 hours (but it could take longer if an issue arises). Keep in mind the CBSA conducts these inspections to intercept smugglers. CBSA agents review risk assessment scores, and based on their experience, identify containers for inspections. Smugglers can add items in a commercial container without the owner of the container or shipper being aware of the addition.


While the CBSA will not charge you for the movement/relocation of your container, the operator of the inspection facility might. The operator of the facility handles the movement and reloading of containers subject to inspections. The CBSA absorbs all the cost related to the inspection, such as personnel and equipment.

Therefore, importers could face the following charges:

-        Loading

-        Arrival

-        Terminal fees

-        Terminal Storage

-        Delivery fees

Damage to Containers/Good

The parties responsible for each stage of the movement of the container is responsible for the container and its contents. If you believe your goods or container was damaged, then your first point of contact is the shipping line to identify when the goods or container was damaged. The following scenarios are possible. First, if the goods were damaged during transportation, then you should contact the carrier and proceed through their claims process. Second, if the goods were damaged during the reload/offload process, then contact the offload service provider. These providers are required to identify any damage in writing and provide it to you. They will have their own claims process. Finally, if the goods were damaged during the inspection process, then contact the CBSA superintendent for the port of entry where the goods were damaged. The CBSA is also required to identify any damage in writing.

Contact ARGO Customs for Importing & Exporting Solutions

If you need assistance moving your marine containers through the border, then look no further than ARGO Customs. Our agents are located at all major ports of entry (land and sea) and can assist you with the customs clearing process.

Contact us for more information about importing and exporting solutions.


Argo Customs Announces Changes to Steel Shipment Processes

[July 9, 2019 – CANADA] Global Affairs Canada (GAC), one of Canada’s largest trade promotion agencies, announced recently that steel shipments may be processed using the SWI IID. This is a change from prior policies and also includes those shipments subject to safeguard measures. The information is a major change to that previously posted on GCCollab.

As one of Canada’s leading importing and exporting companies, Argo Customs is committed to keeping up with major industry changes. For those importing and exporting steel in and out of Canada, it’s important to note that:

• Goods being shipped into Canada that are subject to safeguards a require a specific permit: GIP80 or GIP81 can be used on the IID with the appropriate GAC shipment permit number provided at the time of accounting.

• There are distinct measurements for the customs tariff and UOM required by GAC for steel. For shipments of steel into Canada, importers need to indicate the proper unit of measurement, which is either KGMs or metric tons. This rule applies for all steel entries into Canada.

• The CBSA data element matching table for steel includes HS Codes for commodities that fall under the steel safeguards.

For more information regarding importing steel into Canada, visit the Global Affairs Website, paying particular attention to Section C, related to carbon and specialty steel imports or consult the professionals from Argo Customs.

About Argo Customs:

Argo Customs is one of Canada’s leading import/export brokerages, offering a range of services, including commercial and personal shipping solutions, customers and consulting services, cargo status updates, and more. Their staff can help streamline the Canadian Customs process and ensure all of the necessary paperwork and certifications are properly filed and up-to-date. To learn more about their services, call 1 (888) 311-8303 or visit

Everything You Need to Know About Importing Plants (and Plant-Products) into Canada

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (“CFIA”) is responsible for managing the import of plants and plant-related products to protect Canada’s animal, food, and plant resources from invasive species. Invasive species are non-native animals or plants that are introduced into a local biome and, because they may lack natural predators or other controls, run rampant over a local environment which can cause substantial ecological disaster. As part of this regulatory mandate, Canada issues permits to import these products in accordance with guidelines established under the Plant Protection Act and associated regulations.

Importing Plants and Plant-Products – Apply Online

As of June 1, 2019, importers may now apply online for an import permit for products that are regulated by the Plant Protection Act without submitting a corresponding hard copy. The streamlined online process will save importers time and money as they seek to import plant-products into Canada. All importers should familiarize themselves with the Plant Protection Policy Directives which will ensure that their applications will be quickly processed and approved.

If you are an importer, you may now submit your online applications using your “My CFIA” account. You can also submit an application via e-mail, regular mail or fax.

ARGO Customs Can Help

If you would like to begin selling exports to the Canadian market, ARGO Customs Brokers can help your business grow. With our team of expert import brokers, we can help your business with customs clearance into Canada and succeed.

Contact our team today to learn more about our importing and exporting services and solutions.

Argo Customs Explains Important New Rollbacks of Surtaxes on Certain Imports from The United States

June 8, 2019 – Toronto, ON ARGO Customs has good news for Canadian importers: surtaxes on steel, aluminum, and other finished consumer goods such as playing cards and whisky, have been rolled back.  As of May 19, 2019, the United States Surtax Order (Steel and Aluminum): SOR/2018-152 and the United States Surtax Order (Other Goods): SOR/2018-153 are repealed.

Previously, steel and aluminum had a surtax of 25%, and other finished consumer goods had a surtax of 10%.  These surtaxes, established in June of 2018, are both now entirely removed.  This will make it far easier for companies within Canada to import and resell such goods.

At present, the Canadian government has limited plans to offer reimbursements to importers who had paid those surtaxes.  In general, reimbursement will not be offered, but the government will be willing to consider requests for reimbursement in a limited number of cases:

  • If the good was considered to be in short supply, on either a national or regional basis, 
  • If ongoing importation was mandated by existing contracts which predate May 2018, or
  • In the case of an exceptional circumstance which could have threatened the Canadian economy.

Importers who feel they may qualify for reimbursement under these conditions can contact the Ministry of Finance for further direction.  Reimbursements are not guaranteed and will be considered solely on a case-by-case basis.

Argo Customs is glad to see these surtaxes removed and hopes this helps spur greater economic activity between Canada and the United States.

About ARGO Customs

ARGO Customs are a team of experienced, high-powered international trade specialists who are dedicated to helping Canadian companies more effectively do business across national borders.  Argo Customs is fully licensed, and has extensive experience with goods of all types, including tightly regulated products such as foods and other agricultural products.

For more information or press inquiries, please call 1-888-311-8303 or visit


What You Need to Know About Changes to the Importation of Steel Goods (Customs Notice 19-08)

Effective May 13, 2019, the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) Customs Notice 19-08 came into force. Notice 19-08 amending the order which set a surtax for certain steel goods (SOR/2018/206). The new order applies to the following goods:

  1. Goods from Canada;
  2. Goods from Israel (or another CIFTA country); the United States; the Republic of Korea (South Korea); Peru; Panama; Mexico; Columbia; and Chile; and
  3. All goods from WTO member-states who are within the General Preferential Tariff system.

There are two goods subject to the surtax: (1) Heavy Plate; and (2) Stainless Steel Wire. The following HS codes for heavy plate are covered by the surtax (bear in mind, these numbers are illustrative – not exhaustive): 7208.51.00.10; 7208.51.00.93; 7208.51.00.94; 7208.51.00.95; 7208.52.00.10; 7208.52.00.93; 7208.52.00.96. In general, carbon steel plate and high-strength/low-alloy plates are covered by the surtax.

Similarly, the following HS codes are applicable for stainless steel wire: 7223.00.00.10; 7223.00.00.20. Steel wires which are drawn cold in various specific widths and dimensions are also subject to the surtax.

You should review the schedule to determine clearly if your goods are subject to the surtax.

The surtax will be in effect until October 24, 2021. However, the surtax decreases from and from 100,000 tonnes to 54,699 tonnes for each period. The first period runs from May 13, 2019, to May 12, 2020. The second period runs from May 13, 2020, to May 12, 2021. And the final period ends October 24, 2021, at which point the surtax will end. The surtax reduces from 20% to 10% for steel plates during the periods and from 25% to 5% for stainless steel wire.

ARGO Customs

When importing or exporting goods into or out of Canada, make sure that you have proof of origin to substantiate where your goods come from to ensure that you pay the appropriate surtax. The CBSA may require you to provide purchase orders, bills of lading, mill certificates, product literature, or other permits. ARGO Customs agents can help you prepare your paperwork and guide you through the process or act on your behalf.

A Guide to What You Should Know Before Trying to Import Goods into Canada

Canada restricts the importation of various goods like food, plant, and animal products (FPA) because they could cause substantial damage to Canada’s native biosystems, fisheries, native environments, domesticated crops, and can even be a harm to humans. In fact, a single piece of meat or fruit that harbors the wrong pests or diseases can cause rampant destruction in Canada.

Importing Food, Plant, and Animal Goods into Canada

Accordingly, the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) inspects and restricts a broad range of products coming into Canada, including, but not limited to:

  1. Houseplants;
  2. Homemade items, such as things carved from wood or made from plants;
  3. Firewood;
  4. Various foods including fruit and vegetables; milk; and cooked or raw meats;
  5. Seeds; and
  6. Even muddy hiking boots (which can harbor damaging microbes).

You should review the Automated Import Reference System (AIRS) prior to trying to bring an FPA product into Canada. You don’t want to get stuck at the border while your FPA is processed and to determine if it can be admitted. Also, keep in mind, the restrictions can vary based on the item and country of origin. For example, a pet dog might be restricted if it comes from southeast Asia but is less likely to be restricted if it is from the United States. These guidelines are continually adjusted based on changes in disease and pest situations – so do research before you come to the border.

If you need assistance understanding the Automated Import Reference System or would like assistance to bring in an FPA product, then please do not hesitate to contact ARGO Customs Brokers. Our brokers can assist you in advance to ensure you have a smooth transition at the border. When you come to enter Canada, be sure to have the HS Tariff classification code and the country of origin as this information will facilitate a faster determination. If you have any questions, you can email us – – or contact our team for a live chat.