Exporting to Canada – everything you need to know

Canada has many cultural, historic, and linguistic links with the UK, and it is the UK’s 16th largest export market for goods.

The UK is Canada’s sixth largest source of goods imports and second largest services trading partner, and the latest export figures show UK goods and service exports to Canada were worth £7.5 billion in 2013.

Top 10 UK exports to Canada are:

  • Petroleum products
  • Aerospace parts
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Motor vehicles
  • Aircraft engines
  • Gold
  • Medical products
  • Spirits
  • Transport vehicles
  • Tractors

The pros and cons of exporting to Canada

There are about 700 UK companies currently doing business in Canada, including Aviva, Burberry and HSBC, and if you’re thinking of exporting to Canada, the strengths of the market include:

  • strong economic growth and banking sector
  • high personal wealth
  • large and diverse natural resource sectors
  • strong business and consumer base

With so many lingual, cultural, and business practices in common, there are obviously a lot of benefits to exporting to Canada. They include:

  • familiar products and service providers
  • proximity to US market
  • similar legal and business practices
  • diverse ethnic population
  • pending CETA agreement will reduce trade restrictions

And while doing business in Canada is similar to doing business in the UK, it’s not without its challenges, such as:

  • difficulties for law firms to do business due to heavy regulation
  • Industrial Regional Benefits (IRB) policies make it difficult for Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) to do business in the defence sector
  • agriculture is protected which can affect imports, though tariff reduction and greater quotas will be a result of the CETA.
  • alcohol sales are generally restricted but some of these practices will be moderated by CETA
  • takeovers and mergers are regulated by the Investment Canada Act

If you’re doing business in Canada, you’ll need a reliable and cost-effective conference call provider to help keep in touch when travelling isn’t an option. Here’s How to set up a conference call between the UK and Canada.

And remember, you can now screen share and video conference, using Crankwheel.

Tax and customs in Canada


The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) administers tax laws for the Canadian government and most of its provinces and territories. It provides information about taxation for foreign companies and non-residents, and you should contact the CRA directly for information on non-resident tax withholding.

Canada has a type of VAT, called GST (goods and services tax) that is levied at a rate of 5% for most Canadian provinces and in addition to customs duties.


Before you import any products into Canada, you must contact the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), and it can provide a written ruling in advance to advise you on the tariffs and taxes you may be liable to pay.

Image from Pablo by Buffer.

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