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Guidelines for Canadian Importers

Expert: CanadaOne

Rie asked:

I want to start an importing business in Calgary, specifically, watches from Asia. What should I know before getting into the business? Which regulations should I deal with? Thank you for your important time.

CanadaOne answered:

There are all sorts of documents that you must obtain and regulations you must understand before starting your import business. Fortunately, the information you need is not hard to find.

The Customs branch of Revenue Canada is the main source of information for starting an import business in Canada. Officials there should be able to provide you with everything you need. The Alberta branch is located at:

Bay 32
3033-34th Avenue, N.E.
Calgary, AB T1Y 6X2
Tel.: (403) 292-4613
Fax: (403) 292-4840

If you want to do some research online, Revenue Canada has a step-by-step guide to the commercial import process, called the Guide to Importing Commercial Goods. It tells you how to register your business, report your shipments, get your shipments released and examine shipments. It explains the ins and outs of accounting procedures, warehousing and resolving import disputes.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade also offers an online article, Importing into Canada, which contains information on how to import, how to set up an import business, how to make contacts abroad and conditions for importing. It is not as detailed as the Revenue Canada guide, but it provides a list of contacts for more information.

In addition, Operating a Business in Canada by the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade offers some information on importing. [Editor's note: this document is no longer available.] This document touches on all aspects of starting a business and discusses some importing-specific issues, such as customs regulations, special permits, standards and federal programs that offer relief from import taxes.

Once you get to the stage where you're importing goods, you must fill out the proper documentation to have your goods clear Canada Customs. Again, contact the Customs branch of Revenue Canada for assistance.

Resources for further information (Alberta-specific):

Canadian Importers Association
Suite 1618, Box 60
438 University Avenue
Toronto, Ontario M5G 2K8

The Centre for Business Development, Alberta Northwest

Alberta First.Com

Alberta Government Website

A Business Start-Up Guide (with Alberta-specific information)

The Business Link Business Service Centre: 1-800-272-9675

The Virtual Business Link

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