Overview of the different labeling and marking requirements, including any restrictive advertising or labeling practices and where to get more information.
The Canadian Consumer Packaging and Labeling Act requires that all labels be bilingual in English and French, and that the following information appear on the package/label of consumer goods sold in Canada:
- Product Identity Declaration: describes a product’s common or generic name, or its function. The declaration must be in both English and French.
- Net Quantity Declaration: must be expressed in metric units of volume when the product is a liquid or a gas or is viscous; or in metric units of weight when the product is solid; or by numerical count. Net quantity may also be expressed in other established trade terms.
- Dealer’s Name and Principal Place of Business: where the prepackaged product was manufactured or produced for resale. In general, a name and address enough for postal delivery will be acceptable. This information can be in either English or French.
Exporters of food products face additional challenges because of different rules regarding the types of health claims that can be made on labels and different nutrition standards, such as recommended daily allowances of vitamins.
The agency responsible for inspection of imports, the Canada Border Services Agency, also requires an indication of the country of origin, such as “Made in the USA,” on several classes of imported goods. Goods cannot be released from Canada Customs until they are suitably marked.
The Province of Québec requires that all products sold in the province be labeled in French and that the use of French be given at least equal prominence with other languages on any packages or containers. The Charter of the French Language requires the use of French on product labeling, warranty certificates, product manuals and instructions for use, public signs, and written advertising. The Office Québécois de la langue Française (Québec Office of the French Language) website provides guidance on these requirements. Note that these rules do not apply for non-retail/consumer goods if these goods are coming from outside the province and will be incorporated into a final assembly of a larger product; will be used in a manufacturing process; will undergo a degree of transformation; will undergo any type of repair; and is not available in the retail market in Québec.
U.S. exporters of textiles and apparel should check the website of the Competition Bureau for specific labeling requirements. Food exporters should check the Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s Guide to Food Labeling and Advertising.
Innovation, Science, and Economic Development Canada (ISED) is charged with ensuring that any claims about a product being “environmentally friendly” are accurate and in compliance with relevant legislation. In general, environmental claims that are ambiguous, misleading or irrelevant, or that cannot be substantiated should not be used. In all cases, environmental claims should indicate whether they are related to the product itself or to the product’s packaging materials. The Canadian government has issued a set of guiding principles governing the use of environmental labeling and advertising, which may be obtained by contacting Innovation, Science, and Economic Development Canada.
The United States, Mexico, and Canada may ship their goods across North America without any fees or filing an Electronic Export Information (EEI) form (formerly a Shipper’s Export Declaration). Shipments to Canada do not require an EEI unless the shipment:
- Requires a Department of Commerce export license.
- Is subject to the Department of State International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) regardless of license requirements, or
- Is subject to Department of Justice Drug Enforcement Administration export declaration requirements.
- For merchandise transshipped from the United States through Canada for ultimate destination to a foreign country other than Canada, an SED or Automated Export System (AES) record is required.
A list that consolidates 11 export screening lists of the Departments of Commerce, State, and Treasury into a single search as an aid to industry in conducting electronic screens of potential parties to regulated transactions is available at the Consolidated Screening List webpage.