Products designed to conform to U.S. standards will often meet Canadian standards with little or no modification. Similarities between U.S. and Canadian standards, however, do not relieve the United States exporter of the obligation to meet the Canadian standard.
Standards and technical regulations in Canada follow the basic principles of the WTO Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade (“TBT Agreement”) and, as such, must not create unnecessary barriers to trade.
Canada’s National Standards System (NSS) develops, promotes, and implements standards in Canada. The NSS includes more than 400 organizations accredited by the Standards Council of Canada (SCC). These organizations are involved in activities such as standards development, product testing and quality (conformity assessment), product or service certification, and environmental management and production systems registration.
As a federal Crown Corporation, the Standards Council of Canada (SCC) coordinates standardization activities in Canada. The organization reports to Parliament through the Minister of Innovation, Science, and Economic Development and oversees Canada’s National Standards System. The SCC comprises representatives from the federal and provincial governments as well as from a wide range of public and private interests. The council prescribes policies and procedures for developing National Standards of Canada, coordinates Canada’s participation in the international standards system, and accredits more than 400 organizations involved in standards development, product or service certification, testing, and management systems registration activities in Canada. The SCC is independent of government, although it is partially financed by public funds.
The SCC does not develop standards itself, nor does it conduct conformity assessments. Rather, under its mandate to coordinate and oversee the National Standards System, the SCC accredits testing and certification organizations to conduct conformity assessments and reviews of the standards submitted by standards development organizations for approval as National Standards of Canada.
There are numerous accredited standards development organizations (SDOs) in Canada.
The Canadian Standards Association (CSA) and UL Solutions of Canada are private sector organizations covering a wide variety of commercial goods and services. The Canadian General Standards Board (CGSB) and the Bureau de Normalisation du Québec (BNQ) cover areas related to the activities of the Canadian federal and Québec provincial government, respectively. Each of these organizations develops standards through committees representing various interests. SDOs may submit standards to the SCC to be recognized as National Standards of Canada.
The websites of these four organizations provide information to assist companies to keep up with current developments. Companies should become familiar with the development process, especially the proposal stage, so they can learn of new standards as early as possible.
Standards organizations in the United States and Canada work cooperatively in the development of joint standards and have made progress in several areas. For example, the Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute and the CSA have harmonized performance standards into a single North American standard for air conditioners and heat pumps, packaged water chillers, and water-source heat pumps. UL and CSA have established common electrical safety standards for air conditioners, heat pumps, and refrigerant motor-compressors.
Testing, Inspection, and Certification
Product testing, known as conformity assessment, is usually carried out by a testing and certification organization or laboratory that has been accredited to conduct the test that certifies the product’s conformity with the applicable standard. All regulated products must be tested and certified. The Standards Council accredits six types of conformity assessment organizations:
- Testing and Calibration Laboratories
- Management System Certification Bodies
- Personnel Certification Bodies
- Product and Service Certification Bodies
- Inspection Bodies
- Greenhouse Gas Validation and Verification Bodies
Publication of Technical Regulations
The Standards Council operates Canada’s WTO Standards Enquiry Point. The Enquiry Point provides a current database of all current Canadian standards and regulations and makes the information available to Canada’s trading partners.
In addition to submitting proposed technical regulations to the WTO TBT Committee, any proposed regulatory change in Canada is listed in the Canada Gazette. U.S. companies can submit comments to the Government of Canada on proposed changes, especially if the changes are likely to constitute a trade barrier.
Persons who plan to comment on a Canadian (or any other foreign) regulation should contact the United States National Center for Standards and Certification (NCSCI) for guidance. If there is insufficient time to review and comment on the regulation, NCSCI staff will request an extension of the comment period.
The Office of Trade Agreements Negotiations and Compliance (TANC) serves as a point of contact for U.S. companies to submit information on a foreign trade barrier or unfair trade practice they have encountered, such as a technical barrier to trade that is limiting their ability to export or compete internationally. For additional information or support, please contact TANC at email@example.com or by phone at (202) 482-1191.
For additional information on standards, please contact Commercial Specialist Tracey Ford at the U.S. Embassy Ottawa at Tracey.Ford@trade.gov or by phone at (613) 688-5406.
Use ePing to review proposed technical regulations and conformity assessment procedures.
The ePing SPS&TBT platform (https://epingalert.org/), or “ePing”, provides access to notifications made by World Trade Organization (WTO) Members under the Agreements on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS) and Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT), distributed by the WTO from January 16, 1995 to present. ePing is available to all stakeholders free of charge and does not require registration unless the user wishes to receive customized e-mail alerts. Use it to browse notifications on past as well as new draft and updated product regulations, food safety and animal and plant health standards and regulations, find information on trade concerns discussed in the WTO SPS and TBT Committees, locate information on SPS/TBT Enquiry Points and notification authorities, and to follow and review current and past notifications concerning regulatory actions on products, packaging, labeling, food safety and animal and plant health measures in markets of interest.
Notify U.S., operated and maintained by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) since 2003 to distribute and provide access to notifications (and associated draft texts) made under the WTO TBT Agreement for US stakeholders, has reached its end of life. Per obligation under the TBT Agreement, each WTO Member operates a national TBT (and an SPS) Enquiry Point. National TBT Enquiry Points are authorized to accept comments and official communications from other national TBT Enquiry Points, which are NOT part of the WTO or the WTO Secretariat. All comment submissions from U.S. stakeholders, including businesses, trade associations, U.S domiciled standards development organizations and conformity assessment bodies, consumers, or U.S. government agencies on notifications to the WTO TBT Committee should be sent directly to the USA WTO TBT Inquiry Point. Refer to the comment guidance at https://tsapps.nist.gov/notifyus/data/guidance/guidance.cfm for further information. This guidance is provided to assist U.S. stakeholders in the preparation and submission of comments in response to notifications of proposed foreign technical regulations and conformity assessment procedures.