Article

Import and Export: Frequently Asked Questions

My name is Max Vitali and I’m an International Trade Advisor here at Small Business BC. As part of my role I regularly meet with clients looking to grow their business by importing or exporting. They arrive at our office with differing levels of business experience, and products that cover the entire business spectrum.

As we discuss their unique importing and exporting needs, several common questions will tend to arise. Below, I have gathered these questions in one place in the hope you can find the answers you need to begin your journey in the import/export world. Didn’t find the answer you’re looking for? Our range of import and export services will put you in contact with the experts you need to succeed.

Frequently Asked Import/Export Questions

What Regulations Do I Need to Comply With?

Unfortunately, there is no universal answer for this. It is entirely dependent on the industry you are operating in. Each commodity being imported into Canada, or exported out of Canada, must comply with a variety of product-related regulations, as well as customs regulations. These customs regulations are governed in Canada by the Canada Border Services Agency – CBSA. It is important to understand the regulations in detail to minimize any potential liability.

How Can I Start Importing?

The easiest way to get the process started is by educating yourself. I always suggest to clients to attend our import/export seminars to get a broad overview of international trade processes. The next step is to then book a one-on-one consultation with us to obtain an analysis of commodity-related regulations and operational aspects that apply to your business.

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 and 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 insightful understanding of the commodity in the export market. This encompasses trends, local competition, etc.

Do I Need to Apply for Licenses?

Yes. Even if you are starting with small quantities it pays to align yourself with local regulations from the start. This guide from Canada Border Services Agency is a useful starting point for understanding the type of licenses and regulations governing importing. For exporting, licenses will depend on the jurisdiction you want to export to.

What Documents are Needed for Import/Export?

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

Who is in Charge of Regulating Exports?

Each country you plan to export to will have their own specific rules and regulations. Please contact one of our International Trade Advisors to discuss how exporting will work in your unique set of 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 etc.

How Small Business BC Helps with Import and Export

Our import advisors have years of practical experience in international trade. We can support your organization with hands-on advice on the best way to plan and put into action your trade activities by guiding you along the process. In doing so, we can highlight the key risk factors you’ll face so your venture will be a profitable one. Whether it’s our Export Navigator program, or our range of import/export advisory services, we have the resources and tools you need to succeed.

View More Articles