Keep safety in mind when shopping onlineĀ 

Learn how to be a smart shopper and keep safety in mind when buying consumer products and cosmetics online.

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Use the CHECK system when online shopping

When you're shopping online, you might find unsafe consumer products and cosmetics for sale. These are products that have been recalled, banned from sale or do not meet Canadian safety standards.

Unsafe products can lead to serious health risks by exposing you to harmful chemicals and other hazards, such as choking or strangulation. They can also cause damage to your home by causing a fire.

Buying consumer products and cosmetics online is different from buying them in person. Because you can't see the physical product, it can be more difficult to tell if the product is:

  • counterfeit
  • mislabelled
  • of poor quality
  • not as advertised
  • broken or doesn't work as it should
  • not meeting Canadian safety requirements

Protect yourself and your family by following the safety tips below.

Safety tips

Before buying online

Remember to CHECK for safety:

  • Confirm the product hasn't been recalled by checking out the recalls and safety alerts database for consumer products and cosmetics.
    • When searching for older records, be sure to use the "include archived" checkbox.
  • Have an eye out for deals that seem too good to be true and stay away from products with ads that have spelling mistakes and blurry photos. These are both signs that the products may be counterfeit.
    • If you're buying from a third-party seller, compare the ad for the product against the manufacturer's website.
    • Know if you're buying a new, used or refurbished product.
    • Also check for a product model name or number, which you'll need if the product is recalled.
  • Explore whether the consumer product or cosmetic is banned from sale in Canada and confirm if the seller is in Canada.
  • Check for product warnings, safety messages, instructions, age recommendations and certifications. If the product plugs into an electrical outlet, check that it has a Canadian certification mark.
  • Know who you're buying from.
    • Check out the seller's location, history and policies, and look for reputable reviews and ratings.
    • Get the seller's contact information so you can reach them with questions or if there's a problem with the product.
    • Learn how to spot an unsafe website and how to protect yourself from dark commercial patterns.

After you receive your order

Keep up-to-date on the latest safety information by:

  • registering your product with the manufacturer to receive safety updates, such as changes to product labelling or instructions, or replacement parts
  • subscribing to Health Canada's recall notices

If you experience a health or safety problem with a consumer product, you can:

  • submit a consumer incident report to Health Canada
  • report it to the manufacturer or retailer that you bought it from
  • share your reviews of the product with others

If you bought a consumer product that has been recalled, you should:

If you bought a consumer product that's not allowed for sale in Canada, you should either:

  • contact the seller to arrange for return, if possible, or
  • dispose of the product safely

Health Canada's role

In Canada:

These laws include health and safety requirements for products manufactured in or imported into Canada.

Regulating consumer products and cosmetics

Health Canada does not review or approve consumer products and cosmetics in Canada before they're made available on the market. This is also true for products sold by sellers located outside of Canada.

We do, however, monitor consumer products and cosmetics that are sold in Canada. We verify if they comply with the legislation and do not pose a danger to human health or safety.

Our approach is similar to other jurisdictions around the world.

Learn more:

The product safety pledge

We have developed a Canadian product safety pledge.

Some online marketplaces have voluntarily signed onto the pledge. As signatories, they're committed to strengthening and improving the safety of consumer products and cosmetics that they sell online.

Learn more:

Working with others

We work with a number of partners and agencies to improve the safety of consumer products and cosmetics. For example, we:

  • share information and best practices with international partners, such as the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD):
    • about the risks posed by the online market and
    • to raise awareness of possible safety risks with online shopping
  • work with the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and other domestic and international regulators to prevent the import of banned, dangerous and non-compliant products

Learn more:


Government of Canada

Competition Bureau Canada

Office of Consumer Affairs


Related links

Consumer products and cosmetics


Medical devices

Food, plants or animals

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