Canada - Commercial Guide
Standards for Trade

Describes the country's standards landscape, identifies the national standards and accreditation bodies, and lists the main national testing organization(s) and conformity assessment bodies.

Last published date: 2020-08-03

Overview

Canadian and U.S. standards are similar. 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. To reduce such barriers, NAFTA builds on the WTO TBT Agreement by mandating that:

  •    Testing facilities and certification bodies are treated in a nondiscriminatory manner.
  •    Federal standards-related measures will be harmonized to the greatest extent possible.
  •    Greater openness will be provided in the regulatory process.

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. 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.

Standards

There are four accredited standards development organizations (SDOs) in Canada:

The CSA and ULC are private sector organizations covering a wide variety of commercial goods and services. The CGSB and BNQ cover areas related to the activities of the Canadian federal and Quebec 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, listed in the product certification section of this document, 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; and
  • 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. Businesses can register for the Standards Alert program to receive updated information on regulatory changes in their business areas.

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.

Contact Information

Members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) are required under the Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT Agreement) to notify to the WTO proposed technical regulations and conformity assessment procedures that could affect trade. Notify U.S. is a free, web-based e-mail registration service that captures and makes available for review and comment key information on draft regulations and conformity assessment procedures. Users receive customized e-mail alerts when new notifications are added by selected country or countries and industry sector(s) of interest and can also request full texts of regulations. This service and its associated web site are managed and operated by the USA WTO TBT Inquiry Point housed within the National Institute of Standards and Technology, part of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

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 tanc@trade.gov 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.