For consumer goods, U.S. companies should be careful to comply with both federal and provincial or territorial requirements. We encourage U.S. companies that are already shipping to retail outlets in Canada and new entrants to the market to seek advice and counsel to ensure that they are in compliance and that they are prepared to conform to changes, it is especially important for participants in the market in French speaking Québec.
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.
The government of Canada provides significant information about its labeling and marking requirements on its website: https://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/acts/c-38/page-1.html
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. 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 are not available in the retail market in Québec.
On June 1, 2022, an Act respecting French, the official and common language of Québec (Bill 96) became law. This will change labeling and marking requirements in Québec implementing regulations have not been finalized yet. It is important for U.S. companies to seek advice about labeling and marking requirements for consumer goods when operating or selling into the market in Québec.
The government of Québec’s Office of the French Language provide information about its French language laws and the obligations of companies on its website: https://www.oqlf.gouv.qc.ca/charte/changementslegislatifs/. However, we suggest that U.S. companies seek professional legal advice about compliance before sending product into 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 issued “Guiding principles for environmental labelling and advertising” with provides guidance governing the use of environmental labeling and advertising, which may be obtained by contacting Innovation, Science, and Economic Development Canada or on their website.
For additional information about labeling and marking in Canada, please contact Matthew Quigley at firstname.lastname@example.org in the Foreign Commercial Service Office at the U.S. Consulate in Montréal.