Discusses regional considerations of doing business with Québec.
Québec is the only predominantly French-speaking province in Canada and is home to 85% of Canadians whose dominant language is French. The Charter of the French Language is the cornerstone of Québec’s language policy. Adopted in 1977, it covers all areas aimed at making French the language of government and the law, as well as the normal language of work, instruction, communication, commerce, and business.
In Québec, the provincial legislation requires the use of French on the labeling of all products sold in Québec. The Charter of the French Language requires every inscription on a product, its container or wrapping, or on a document or object supplied with it, including the directions for use and the warranty certificates, must be drafted in French. A language other than French may also be used, provided that no inscription in the other language is given greater prominence to those written in French. 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.
Bill 96, an act strengthening the province’s Charter of the French language, came into force on June 1, 2022. The Bill imposes specific measures regarding the use of French in activity sectors, including commerce, with changes impacting advertising, packaging, instructions, eCommerce, and Francization of companies, among other business activities.
The Québec province functions under the civil code legal tradition, unlike the rest of Canada and the United States, which follows common law. Therefore, when entering into a contract with any Québec-based entity, be aware that unless you request otherwise, you will be held responsible for adhering to a different code of rights and responsibilities. Seeking legal counsel in Quebec before entering into contractual obligations is recommended.
Québec companies like to build personal relationships before entering into agreements. Meeting with potential partners and clients is a very important aspect of developing a rapport and doing business in Québec.