Import and Export: Frequently Asked Questions

We regularly meet with clients looking to grow their business by importing or exporting. They arrive at our office with differing business experience levels and products covering the entire business spectrum.

As we discuss their unique importing and exporting needs, several common questions tend to arise. We’ve gathered these questions in one place, hoping you can find the answers you need to begin your journey in the import and export world.

What Regulations Do I Need To Comply With?

Unfortunately, there’s no universal answer to this. It’s entirely dependent on the industry you’re operating in. Each commodity imported into or exported out of Canada must comply with various product-related and customs regulations. These customs regulations are governed by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA). Understanding the rules in detail is essential to minimize potential liability.

How Can I Start Importing?

The easiest way to get the process started is to visit the Export Navigator website and connect with one of their dedicated advisors. This free program is open to all business owners in BC looking to expand their horizons and start selling beyond the borders of BC.

Where Should I Start Once I Have the Information I Need?

Our advisors are standing by to coach you in the licensing and importation process. Remember, you aren’t alone in this process, help is always available.

What Are the Best Products To Export?

We receive this question a lot. Unfortunately, there is no easy answer. The first step for a trader looking to set up a new export business is to obtain market information. The commercial success of export ventures relies on an insightful understanding of the commodity in the export market. This encompasses trends, local competition, and so on.

Do I Need To Apply for Licenses?

Yes. Even if you start with small quantities, it pays to align yourself with local regulations from the beginning. This CBSA guide is a valuable starting point for understanding the types of licenses and regulations governing imports. For exporting, licenses will depend on the jurisdiction you want to export to.

What Documents Are Needed for Importing and Exporting?

Standard documents like commercial invoices and certificates of origin are the most important. However, each commodity might also require additional documentation.

Who’s in Charge of Regulating Exports?

Each country you plan to export to has their own specific rules and regulations. Please contact an Export Navigator Advisor to discuss how exporting will work in your unique circumstances.

What Commodities Do You Advise On?

We can advise on most commodities with only a few exclusions. These are typically items that might run into legal issues, such as guns, drugs, and so on.

How Small Business BC Can Help Your Business

SBBC is a non-profit resource centre for BC-based small businesses. Whatever your idea of success is, we’re here to provide holistic support and resources at every step of the journey. Check out our range of business webinars, on-demand E-Learning Education, our Talk to an Expert Advisories, or browse our business articles.