One of the most popular questions we receive are those concerned with the labelling of imported goods in Canada.
These questions should be split into two parts: ‘marking’ needs to be done before importation and ‘labelling’ before the item is re-sold
Before Importing: Marking
Marking is merely the notation of the country of manufacture on the imported product. This is enough to satisfy Customs officials — the lack of a bilingual or detailed label does not concern them. To be clear, Customs only wants to confirm where your product is made or produced.
If your shipment is inspected, Customs will definitely check that the country of origin is marked on the goods. If they find no such marking, they will hold the shipment until you provide a letter guaranteeing that the marking will be applied. Customs will also issue you a penalty if this is the case (depending on whether it is a first offense, the penalty is $150).
*Most, but not all, imported goods require marking. You can check the appendix here.
**It is possible that Customs can inspect your import — and if they discover that an existing label is misleading or deficient — demand a similar correction from you before releasing the product. (We have yet to experience this phenomenon, but the Food and Drug Regulations does provide for this scenario).
Before you re-sell: Labelling
Once the goods are released into Canada for consumption, it is then up to the importer to determine that the goods meet any specific labelling requirements before being sold at retail. What the label must provide depends on what type of good you are re-selling:
Food: Use the CFIA’s online tool
Note: “name and address” may be your company — the importer — rather than the manufacturer
Apparel and textile articles: fibre content, care instructions, country of origin, and responsible party (Canadian brands may use a CA#)
Does my product need to have a bilingual, detailed label applied before it arrives in Canada?
No. The product or its packaging should be marked with its country of origin, but the additional elements required on a label may be added to a product post-release.
I am importing apparel, does it need to be labelled before arrival?
For clothes, marking is often on the label itself. So, unless the marking of the origin exists elsewhere on the apparel, then a label indicating country of manufacture must be added before importation.
How do I know if my product is ‘marked’?
Is the country of origin clearly indicated on the product or packing? If so, it is marked.
What should I do to ensure that my imported goods are clearly marked?
If you do not trust your vendor, we recommend requesting a photograph of the marking from them before shipping.
Border Bee estimates that less than 1% of all importations into Canada are penalized for lack of marking — but it is always a possibility.