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Canada Non-Resident Importer Program

Canada Non Resident Importer Program

Non-Resident Importer Program (NRI) 

The Non-Resident Importer Program (NRI) is best suited for U.S. companies selling directly to Canadian consumers, retailers and businesses. An important key to achieving market penetration and expanding export sales to Canada is to minimize the Canadian customer’s work by making the transaction resemble a Canadian domestic transaction. This can be accomplished through the NRI. This program is an initiative of the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) that takes the burden of importing off the Canadian purchaser and allows the U.S. exporter to sell to Canada on a delivered-price basis, rendering the ordering process more transparent and stable to the Canadian customer.

A Non-Resident Importer (NRI) is a business located outside of Canada that ships goods to customers in Canada and assumes responsibility for customs clearance and other import-related requirements. This program allows the U.S. exporter to include all shipping, customs clearances, duties and taxes in the shipping and handling fees charged to the customer, who could even be charged in Canadian dollars. In this way, the transaction appears to the Canadian consumer as a domestic transaction.

Benefits of Becoming A Non-Resident Importer

There are many benefits for U.S. exporters to register for the NRI program.

  • Simplifies pricing – By including transportation costs, customs clearance fees, duties and taxes in the selling price of the goods, the U.S. company creates price certainty for their Canadian customers. This eliminates ‘surprise’ additional fees once the goods pass into Canada.
  • Eases the trade process for the Canadian customer – With the U.S. company acting as both the exporter of record and the importer of record, the Canadian consumer does not have to be involved in the import process which makes doing business as easy as purchasing from a Canadian company.
  • Increases the U.S. company’s competitive advantage – By consolidating shipments, the U.S. vendor can clear the goods in their own name as one clearance and reduce the cost of shipping, creating significant savings that can be passed on to the Canadian customers.
  • Improves shipment control – Acting as the U.S. exporter and non-resident importer, the U.S. vendor controls the shipping process door-to-door. This minimizes customs delays and gives you the ability to track the movement of the shipment.
  • Expands the U.S. company’s market reach into Canada – Through the improvements in customer service generated by the NRI program, U.S. companies that participate can increase their market share in Canada and compete more effectively with competitors.

How to Become a Non-Resident Importer

The best way to register for the NRI program is through a customs broker as they offer many services that will aid a U.S. company as you begin exporting to Canada. A broker will:

  • ensure that the U.S. company is compliant as an exporter to Canada,
  • ensure that the U.S. company is taking advantage of USMCA benefits wherever possible,
  • help to develop the product’s final price (including duty, taxes, transportation and brokerage fees),
  • explain Canadian taxes,
  • assist with simplifying documentation,
  • establish the non-resident importer account including obtaining a Canadian Business Number and completing the Agreement for Maintaining Books and Records Outside of Canada.

Canada: The Non-Resident Importer Program

There is no specific charge for establishing a U.S. company as an NRI; however, customs brokers may charge a fee for assisting with the set up. For more information on customs brokers, contact your local U.S. Commercial Service office at

NRI Program Considerations An NRI is subject to Canada’s Customs Act and related regulations that are administered by the Canada Border Services Agency. U.S. vendors registered under the NRI program should be aware of additional considerations when exporting under the program.

Canadian Taxes

Almost all goods imported into Canada are subject to the Goods and Services Tax (GST). The 5 percent GST is payable at the point of importation and is based on the duty paid value of the goods. All companies that are conducting business in Canada and have annual sales exceeding CDN$30,000 are required to register for the GST with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) and may have to post a GST bond. Registering with the CRA will incur reporting obligations for the U.S. business. To determine whether your business needs to register to collect and remit GST to the Canada Revenue Agency, contact a certified tax accountant. More information on GST/HST for Non-Residents is available on CRA’s website.

Determining Duties and Tariffs

Based on the universal Harmonized System (HS Code), the rate of duty is determined by accurate tariff classification and country of origin. Binding rulings are available from Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) if the classification is in doubt; however, most commodities are specifically named and can be readily qualified.

USMCA – Certification of Origin

If the product originates in the United States or Mexico, it may have a preferential tariff treatment under the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). Unlike NAFTA’s Certificate of Origin requirement, the USMCA does not require a specific form. A claim for preferential treatment under the USMCA should contain nine minimum data elements. This information may be provided on an invoice or any other document, if it describes the originating product in enough detail to enable its identification and meet the requirements of the agreement.

Customs Clearance Documentation

All exports to Canada require specific information for clearance through Canada Customs. In addition to a copy of the commercial invoice, the Canada Customs Invoice (CCI) is the most common form utilized and is required for all shipments valued over CDN$3,300. For shipments valued at CDN$3,300 or less, a commercial invoice can be used instead of a CCI provided the required data elements are included.

Canadian Business Number

Obtaining a BN should be the first step in becoming an NRI. U.S. companies should note that they may not have to apply for a business number or with Canada Revenue Agency for tax purposes to do business in Canada. By registering with the CRA, the U.S. company is incurring reporting obligations to CRA even if no sales are made. U.S. companies should consult a certified tax accountant with knowledge of Canadian laws before registering. Contact your local U.S. Commercial office for a list of accountants.

For more information on these requirements visit the CBSA website.

For More Information The U.S. Commercial Service in Ottawa, Canada can be contacted via e-mail at: