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When importing items into Canada, it’s usually required that they’re marked and labelled properly. Many of our clients ask “How do I do this?” and “What’s the difference, anyway?”. It can be pretty important to know the answers to those questions. To help you avoid penalties and wasted time at the border, we’ve put together an introductory guide to the labelling requirements of Canada.
You might have already heard that imports to Canada need to be marked and labelled. So let’s start with marking. In the customs trade business, marking refers to the indication of a product’s country of origin. This is not necessarily the country it was imported from, but the country it was made in. If you import textiles that were produced in Thailand, the marking should say Thailand. Whether the product is from a NAFTA country (U.S., Mexico, or Canada), or from another foreign country, the marking must be present and it must be in either English, French or Spanish.
According to the CBSA, the manner of marking must be sufficiently permanent and it must be present even at the point of ultimate purchase. This means that whoever ends up with the final product should be able to see what the country of origin is. The marking can be on the product or the container of the product, though some items may have special requirements. Metal pipes, for example, can have the marking stenciled, moulded or tagged depending on the type of finish on the pipe. For an overview on marking, see the Government of Canada website.
For information of specific products, consult this CBSA document.
The Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act:
Labelling is a little more in-depth than marking. The Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act is a regulatory statute that requires prepackaged consumer products to display accurate and meaningful labelling information to help consumers make informed purchasing decisions. While marking refers to the country of origin, labelling refers to the general information an imported product is required to have. The types of information that fall under “labelling” depend entirely on the kind of product.
The three basic labelling requirements that all consumer products need to adhere to are:
- product identity
- product net quantity
- dealer’s name and principal place of business
The Government of Canada website has a helpful guide with visual references to what proper labelling might look like. This guide covers many kinds of products you might be importing. However, there are a few categories of things that require extra care when labelling.
Pharmaceutical drugs for human use:
- The brand name of the drug product or if no brand name exists the proper or common name of the drug product, if applicable;
- The proper or common name of the drug product, if applicable;
- The standard for the drug product, if any;
- The notation “sterile (stérile),” if required by the regulations;
- The symbol corresponding to the appropriate schedule or to a drug containing an ingredient listed in the Prescription Drug List (if applicable); and
- The Drug Identification Number (DIN)
These are the general requirements for pharmaceutical drugs for human use. For more in-depth information, visit Health Canada’s Guidance Document on the labelling requirements of pharmaceutical drugs.
- The generic name of each fibre present must be stated as a percentage of the total fibre mass of the article. Generally, the fibres must be shown in order of predominance.
- Except in areas where only one official language is used in consumer transactions, the required fibre content information and information directly relating to the fibre content, must be bilingual.
- The dealer identity may be disclosed by identifying the name and full postal address under which the dealer normally carries out his business, or for a dealer in Canada, an identification number obtained by applying to the Competition Bureau.
- A disclosure label must be applied to a consumer textile article in such a manner that the label is legible and accessible to the prospective consumer at the time of purchase.
These are the general requirements for the labelling of textiles. There are many factors which can also change these requirements, such as the type of product that the textiles are used in or if they’re second-hand. For more in-depth information, visit the Competition Bureau’s Guide to the Textile Labelling and Advertising Regulations.
- Basic product information including: common name, list of ingredients, net quantity, durable life date, name and address of manufacturer, dealer or importer, and in some cases, grade/quality and country of origin.
- Health, safety, and nutrition information including: allergen information, nutrition information such as the quantity of fats, proteins, carbohydrates; vitamins and minerals present per serving of stated size of the food (in the Nutrition Facts table); specific information on products for special dietary use; and instructions for safe storage and handling.
- Food marketing, promotion and advertising via: label vignettes, promotional information and label claims such as low fat, cholesterol-free, high source of fibre, product of Canada, natural, organic, no preservatives added, and so on.
We saved the best for last. When it comes to labeling requirements for food, there are a lot! The requirements vary greatly depending on the product. There are quite a few categories to navigate. For this reason, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency has provided an Industry Labelling Tool which allows user to find labelling requirements specific to the product they’re importing. Check out the Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s Food Labelling for Industry website to find the exact import requirements you’ll need.
If you still have questions, there’s no need to worry. Marking and labelling is not a simple task to undertake. We hope this introductory guide has given you a better understanding of marking and labelling requirements, but you’ll probably still need support going through with it. At Clearit, our team of customs brokers is prepared to help you with any of your import and export needs. Reach out to us today and we’ll help you get started.