Crucial Canadian Customs Law Tips for Immigrant Entrepreneurs


So, you have decided to shift your goals to this big, beautiful and diverse country, Canada!

Whether you have chosen to make our nation your home or just the gateway through which your commercial endeavours reach North America and other favourable trading status partners, you must gain crucial knowledge about import and export laws and regulations to enter international markets successfully.

With specific and sufficient expertise regarding importation/exportation best practices, you will avoid suffering the harms associated with having your shipments inspected then seized, or having your business flagged as non-compliant and thus, damaging your credibility and prospects.  As the saying goes “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”!

So … let’s start with the basics:

Statutory Basis of Canadian Trade

Canada is a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) where rules and regulations for trade and trade Agreements are lobbied, negotiated and implemented.  The WTO is a voluntary organization, i.e., nations agree to abide by the Rules and are free to withhold their compliance as well in keeping with the principles of national sovereignty.  The means by which Canada executes its WTO obligations include domestic agencies and laws such as the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) and the Customs Act.

To get goods in and out of the country, shareholders must self-report their shipments.  Additionally, the use of Customs Consultants and/or Brokers is not mandatory. This “trust-based system” encourages commercialization. However, many companies use Customs Brokers and/or Consultants because of the complexity of customs laws and the increased volume of goods that they export as a result of economies of scale.

Customs Brokers and Customs Consultants

If you have a business that trades in goods, you may hire either a Customs Broker or Customs Consultant depending upon the characteristics of your venture, your objectives, target market, etc. Customs Brokers are persons who are registered and licensed to act on your behalf and who utilize their mastery of import/export laws and processes to manage your individual situation.  These Brokers are Independent Contractors, i.e., they can handle the accounts of multiple clients.

In contrast, Customs Consultants will provide the same type of services, but they are dedicated to your business exclusively.

The most important information that you gain from either your Broker or Consultant is how and to what extent the various international trade agreements to which Canada is a party, effect your business positively and/or negatively. A competent customs professional will determine the requirements, proper analysis and documentation that will result in a reduction of duty under each relevant international Agreement. They may also advise you of related strategies through which you can optimize your competitive position in the international marketplace.

Some examples of favourable international trade agreements to which Canada is a party include the:

For a complete list of international trade treaties, please visit the Government of Canada website.

The more you know, the better

The field of international customs law and procedures is ever-changing and intricate.  Therefore, it should be your goal to find ways to simplify and optimize shipment of your products on an on-going basis.

What's more, choosing to come to Canada is a decision that makes sense when it improves your quality of life and your business accomplishments. So why not ensure that you eschew preventable errors and maximize your opportunities by seeking the counsel of skilled Canadian Customs Professionals who can help you achieve your goals as effectively as possible? 


Fabiola Ferrusquia is a Certified Customs Specialist in the USA and Canada(CCS).  She is a Certified Logistics Professional (CCLP) with over 18 years of experience in Customs throughout Mexico, the USA and Canada.  As well, Ms. Ferrusquia is a logistics and export expert with respect to shipments worldwide.

To get in touch with Fabiola, send an email to or you may call her at 416.671.7919.