*Note: The Business Visa Requirements selection indicates general guidance for obtaining business visas for U.S. passport holders traveling to this country, as streamlined business visa practices can enable consultants to travel to foreign clients more easily. However, consultants should evaluate the full visa policies that may apply to their unique situation on foreign government websites before traveling.
For a detailed explanation of factors used to determine these Top Export Marking Rankings, including logic, data citations and weighting, please see the Methodology section.
Though Canada receives fewer U.S. consulting exports than some of the other top ranked export markets, its proximity to the U.S., English language operations (with a few exceptions), cultural similarities, and familiarity with U.S. companies may enhance the attractiveness of U.S. consulting firms to Canadian clients.
Canada has a strong trade and economic connection to the U.S. via the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). The vast majority of goods and services Canada imports come from the U.S. through this preferential trade agreement. The agreement also provides an expedited process for qualifying management consultants to obtain temporary entry business visas for travel to Canada.
Canada also has a relatively open market with respect to digital policies. Since 2017, it has received a score of 0 on the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD) Digital Services Trade Restrictiveness Index (STRI), which means it has close to no barriers to digital trade and has beneficial policies on digital infrastructure, connectivity, electronic transactions, payment systems, and intellectual property rights. Nonetheless, U.S. consultants should be aware that digital economy legislation and policies are rapidly evolving as Canada seeks to regulate broad swaths of the digital economy affecting content streaming services, online news aggregators, artificial intelligence creators and users, and large multinational digital services companies (including a contemplated unilateral digital services tax).
Management Consulting: The top segments of consulting services provided in Canada are strategic management consulting, human resources management consulting, and financial management consulting. In 2021, domestic businesses were the largest purchasers of consulting services, more so than government institutions, non-profits, and international clients.
First Time Exporters: Proximity, openness to digital services, streamlined visa processes, and shared cultural and linguistic characteristics make Canada an especially attractive market for U.S. consulting firms new to exporting their services.
Competitive Market: Many U.S. consulting firms of all sizes are already active in Canada. U.S. consulting providers considering expansion of their services to Canada should be prepared to face competition from both domestic and U.S. firms.
Intellectual Property Rights: The United States Trade Representative (USTR) continues to include Canada on a Watch List in its 2023 Special 301 Report, primarily due to concerns regarding Canada’s intellectual property environment, including poor enforcement of counterfeit or pirated goods at the border and within Canada, high levels of online piracy, and inadequate transparency and due process regarding geographical indications.
Temporary Foreign Worker Visa Requirements: Canada has strict visa rules for hiring temporary foreign workers that can be costly and time consuming. USMCA has streamlined these rules for some job titles, including certain qualifying consulting services. The visa process generally requires a work permit and a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). To receive LMIA authorization, employers are required to conduct recruitment efforts to hire Canadian citizens or permanent residents before offering the job to a foreign worker.
There is a certain amount of discretion in determining what individuals or groups are considered “management consultants.” Immigration officials at the Canadian border have seen this category used broadly and may ask additional detail about the nature of the intended work these consultants will be engaged in in Canada. Consulting services that are in limited supply in Canada will see better market opportunities than those that are readily available, and it will be easier to get through the LMIA if providing a niche service.
Linguistics: While much of Canada utilizes English as the primary language for business, U.S. consultants interested in working in Quebec should have proficiency in French. In addition, consultants looking to sell services to the Canadian federal government or to clients in New Brunswick need to be capable of offering services in both English and French.