How Does Importing Clothing Into Canada Work? |

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How Does Importing Clothing Into Canada Work?

Importing clothing items into Canada? It probably does not come as a surprise that clothing items are actually one of the most commonly imported items into the nation. 

However, a key thing to consider here that the duty rates average out at 17.5%. In addition to this, it’s typically one of the most legislated import types — as demonstrated by Annex 300-B of NAFTA, where a litany of stipulations are outlined. 

Another interesting consideration: there are no specific permits required for textiles, apparel, or garments for importation into Canada.

As with anything we write about: proceed with caution. Making mistakes or being careless in the arena of importing goods can be costly, waste time, and set back your business. Here’s a quote from business executive and author, Seth Godin:

“If you don’t have the time to do it right, what makes you think you’ll have the time to do it over again?”


Any import items that can be classified as clothing, linens, textiles, leather, fur, and any other kinds of fabric, there are certainly regulations to keep in mind as you move forward. If you’ve already found a vendor/provider overseas, we’ve got you covered!

textile apparel clothing

Below are a list of the main considerations for getting started and importing clothing into Canada.

Basics for First-Time Importers

On the Clearit blog, we have a huge range of super-ultra-interesting pieces (no sarcasm whatsoever) written specifically for first-time importers. We’ll link a few of them below so you can stack up some reading material for later! But here’s 8 quick things to note:

1. Get a Business Number for an Import-Export account from Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). A customs broker can do this for you.

2. Make sure the goods you’d like to import are not prohibited in Canada. This is typically not an issue for clothing items, but do make sure before you commit. 

3. Identify which taxes, duties, and fees apply to you. A broker will help verify if your information is correct. Of note: tax rate for clothing items is 5%.

4. Obtain a Tariff Classification number (10-digit number assigned to imported item). This number will help you determine any tariffs to be paid. 

5. Now is the time to place your order with the vendor. Better be prepared before you do this! In the order, it’s ideal to identify mode of shipment and the expected port of entry.

6. Be aware shipments of goods may be examined or audited by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA). You will be responsible for any costs incurred during this process. 

7. Pay duties and taxes before goods are released. A customs broker can ensure that this is done with ease. 

8. Make sure you are ready for post-shipment record keeping. Any records you have about your imported goods must be kept for a total of 6 years following their importation (paper or electronic). 

 Pertinent blog posts: 

What You Need to Know Before Working In Imports & Exports

5 Tips for Choosing the Right Customs Broker 

How Much Can You Expect to Pay in Customs Duties?

How Long Does It Take to Clear Customs in Canada? 

Main Regulations that Apply to Clothing Shipments

apparel fabric

Textile Labeling and Marking. These regulations are quite specific and must be followed in order for the shipment to be released. Click here for the Government of Canada’s Guide to the Textile Labelling and Advertising Regulations

Tariff Preference Level (TPL) for textiles & clothing. There are certain fabrics and apparel items that are within particular Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) that have preferential tariff rates. Check out TPL details on the CBSA website


This was definitely a resource-heavy piece with a lot of links to sift through! That being said, don’t be scared away from importing textiles and clothing: as long as you do your homework, get your documentation in order, and pay the required fees, you’ll be in the clear.

It’s true that it can be an overwhelming process, especially for first-time importers, but it should be noted that most importers work with a customs broker that can help them with regulations and file documentation on their behalf. If you’d like to learn more about how a broker can help you, click here to get the conversation started — no commitment.