Buying consumer products online

Learn about the potential risks of buying consumer products online and how you can minimize them.

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Safety Tips for Consumers

Learn how to minimize the potential risks involved with purchasing consumer products online.

When shopping online:

  • Know who and where you’re buying from:
    • learn about the vendor’s history and return policy
    • check ratings and reviews (not all are reputable sources, so read them carefully)
  • Do your research:

And, as always:

  • Follow the:
    • age recommendations
    • warnings
    • safety messages
  • Register products with the manufacturers to receive safety updates
  • Subscribe to Health Canada’s recall notices 

Report a concern

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

If you bought a product that has been recalled:

If you bought a product that is not permitted for use or sale in Canada:

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

Risks of buying online

Like products bought at bricks and mortar stores, it is possible that consumer products bought online are prohibited, counterfeit, not as advertised, poor quality, recalled, mislabelled (e.g. display the wrong hazard symbols, first aid statements or ingredients), or may not work as they should.

Health Canada’s role

  • In Canada, consumer products are regulated by the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act and cosmetics are regulated under the Food and Drugs Act. Both laws include prohibitions on the sale of products that may pose a risk to health or safety. These laws apply to products manufactured or imported in Canada.
  • Health Canada doesn’t have control over the quality of goods manufactured overseas. It is only when those goods are imported into Canada that Health Canada has jurisdiction over them. The Department works in collaboration with the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) to prevent the import of prohibited, dangerous and non-compliant products.  
  • Consumer products in Canada are not approved or tested prior to being made available on the market. That said, Health Canada monitors the marketplace and acts when and where it identifies an issue. This is similar to other jurisdictions such as the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
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