Importing, exporting or transhipping consumer products and cosmetics: Guide

Disclaimer

This policy and its associated documents are intended to provide guidance and do not supersede, limit or alter the Act or regulations. In case of any discrepancy between this policy and the legislation, the legislation will prevail.

Table of Contents

About this document

Guidance

Additional information

Appendices

About this document

1. Purpose

This policy provides general information to any person – an individual or an organization that is involved in the import, export or transhipment of consumer products and cosmetics for commercial purposes. It describes Health Canada’s position about this subject within the context of the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act and the Food and Drugs Act and it may help you to understand your responsibilities with respect to products you move into and out of Canada for commercial purposes. However, it is not intended to provide legal advice to you regarding those responsibilities. If you have questions about your responsibilities under those Acts, you should seek advice from a legal professional.

Are you an importer?

In general, an importer is a person or entity that brings consumer products or cosmetics into Canada from another country (including from the United States). Depending on the specifics of a case, an importer may be an individual or business that:

  • crosses the Canadian border with the products.
  • causes or directs the goods to be imported into Canada.
  • directly receives the products entering Canada from another country.

Note: An ‘Importer of record’, ‘Non-resident importer’ or ‘Foreign importer’ will not be treated as an Importer carrying on the activity of Import as described above.

Are you an exporter?

In general, an exporter is an entity that moves consumer products or cosmetics out of Canada into another country. It includes an individual or an organization that:

  • crosses the Canadian border with the products.
  • sends or ships the products abroad.
  • sells or advertises the products over the internet and ships to a foreign jurisdiction from Canada.

2. Scope

The information in this policy is directed towards an individual or an organization that imports, exports or tranships consumer products and cosmetics through Canada for commercial purposes.

The scope of this policy does not include:

Note: Consumers bringing products across the border into Canada should be aware that some consumer products are not allowed into Canada by law, even if they are for personal use. For more information, see Bringing Consumer Products into Canada.

3. Policy objective

The vast majority of consumer products and cosmetics in the Canadian market are imported. Verifying the safety of these products is important to the Government of Canada. Therefore, the objective of this policy is to:

Refer to the following parts of this document for information specific to importing, exporting or transhipping goods:

Different Requirements for Importing, Exporting and Transhipping Consumer Products and Cosmetics in Canada
Text Description:

Refer to the appropriate section of this document for details on the different requirements for any individual or organization who imports, exports or tranships consumer products or cosmetics in Canada for commercial purposes.

Guidance

4. What is ‘importing’ or ‘exporting’ for commercial purposes?

Health Canada takes the position that the import or export of a consumer product or a cosmetic product for the following purposes constitutes the import or export of those products for a commercial purpose:

In addition, for cosmetics, Health Canada takes the position that the following activities involving a cosmetic constitute the import or export of that product for a commercial purpose:

The above list is not exhaustive. Health Canada may use other indicators and factors to determine commercial purpose (as described in the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act - section 4). For example, Health Canada may take into account the level of involvement in an organized supply chain for a product, or the use of business-like practices in supplying products.

Note: A 90 day supply is based on, among other things, the directions for use of the product.

5. Import into Canada: Importing requirements of consumer products or cosmetics into Canada for commercial purposes

Consumer products

Consumer products imported for commercial purposes are regulated under the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act and its regulations.

You may import consumer products into Canada, if the product:

As an importer of consumer products, you are required to:

For some consumer products, specific product requirements are set out in regulations (see Appendix B for a list of product-specific regulations). These regulations may outline product, label or packaging specifications or make reference to an existing standard.

Beyond complying with the requirements listed in any specific regulations, it is the importer’s responsibility to ensure the products they import do not present a “danger to human health or safety” (see Industry Guidance - "Danger to Human Health or Safety" Posed by Consumer Products). Importers may also reference published guidelines from Health Canada or another relevant organization (e.g. regulators in other jurisdictions, industry associations, etc.).

Cosmetics

Cosmetics imported for a commercial purpose must meet the requirements of the Food and Drugs Act and its Cosmetic Regulations.

If you intend to import cosmetics into Canada for commercial purposes, as per Section 16 of the Food and Drugs Act, no person shall sell any cosmetic that:

In addition, as an importer, you must meet the following obligations relating to:

  1. Ingredients;
  2. Cosmetic Notification Form;
  3. Appropriate claims or classification; and
  4. Labelling.

1. Ingredients

To determine if an ingredient is safe for use in cosmetics, Health Canada applies evidence-based decision making and focuses on reducing any risks to consumers if an ingredient poses a hazard. The Cosmetic Ingredient Hotlist (Hotlist) is an administrative tool that includes a list of ingredients that may be prohibited or restricted in cosmetics and also gives information about warnings and cautionary statements.

Health Canada uses the Hotlist to communicate to industry, stakeholders and the public that certain substances – when present in a cosmetic may:

In addition, the Hotlist communicates that the presence of certain substances, or their use under certain conditions, may make the product unsuitable for classification as a cosmetic under the Food and Drugs Act.

Cosmetics containing ingredients described as prohibited or restricted on the Hotlist may result in shipments being refused entry into Canada or removed from sale.

2. Cosmetic Notification Form

All cosmetics sold in Canada must be notified to Health Canada, through the online Cosmetic Notification Form. The importer and manufacturer must notify Health Canada within 10 days of selling a cosmetic product in Canada.

Cosmetic imports for commercial purposes should contain the unique Cosmetic Number issued by Health Canada on import documents for easy verification.

For more information on the cosmetic notification process, see the Guidance document: How to complete a Cosmetic Notification Form.

Failure to notify Health Canada about a cosmetic product may result in Health Canada initiating compliance and enforcement actions in relation to that product.

3. Appropriate claims or classification

A cosmetic product cannot make therapeutic claims or pest control claims on the product label, advertisements, the product website, or elsewhere. Therapeutic claims are only allowed on drugs or natural health products, while pest control claims are only allowed on pest control products. Products with therapeutic claims or pest control claims must obtain appropriate market authorization before they can be sold in Canada.

When deciding whether to place claims on your products, you may want to take into account the general information set out in the following documents:

4. Labelling

All cosmetics must be labelled in accordance with:

To comply with these requirements, cosmetic labels must include:

There may be additional labelling requirements. For details, see the Guidelines for the Labelling of Cosmetics and the Guide to Cosmetic Ingredient Labelling.

Advance Notice of Importation (ANI) Process for Cosmetics

It is prohibited to import cosmetic products into Canada for sale if their sale would contravene the Food and Drugs Act or the Cosmetic Regulations (refer to Section 5 of the Cosmetic Regulations). However, under Section 9 of the Cosmetic Regulations importers are allowed to import for sale a non-compliant cosmetic provided the following conditions are met:

For more information on Section 9 of the Cosmetic Regulations, see Health Canada’s Advance Notice of Importation Process pilot. Health Canada’s approach to compliance and enforcement activities, including in relation to consumer products and cosmetics, is described in this document in Part 8 - Guiding Principles.

The submission of an Advance Notice of Importation (ANI) Form does not guarantee that importations of cosmetics will be allowed entry into Canada.

6. Export from Canada: Exporting consumer products or cosmetics from Canada for commercial purposes

If you are exporting consumer products or cosmetics from Canada for commercial purposes, then you must ensure that the products you intend to export are not only compliant with the requirements of the country you are shipping to, but also compliant with the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act and its regulations and the Food and Drugs Act and its Cosmetic Regulations, which set out rules concerning the export from Canada of:

Health Canada’s approach to compliance and enforcement activities is described in this document in Part 8 - Guiding Principles.

An individual or an organization exporting consumer products and cosmetics from Canada is responsible for taking the necessary steps to ensure that the exported products do not contravene the law of the destination country.

7. Tranship through Canada: Transhipping consumer products or cosmetics through Canada

Consumer products

The Canada Consumer Product Safety Act and its regulations apply to consumer products transhipped through Canada. Transhipped products are not for consumption in Canada. As is the case with all consumer products, Health Canada’s approach to compliance and enforcement activities concerning consumer products transiting through Canada is outlined in this document in Part 8 – Guiding Principles.

Cosmetics

The Food and Drugs Act and its Cosmetic Regulations do not apply to cosmetics transhipped through Canada provided that they satisfy the following conditions of exemption under Section 38 of the Food and Drugs Act:

Cosmetics while in transit through Canada under Section 38 of the Food and Drugs Act cannot undergo any activities regulated under the Food and Drugs Act and the Cosmetic Regulations. These activities include:

The following examples help to illustrate these requirements.

Example 1:

My company wants to have a shipment of cosmetics pass through Canada from country A on its way to country B for logistical reasons.

Example 2:

My Canadian company wants to import cosmetic products into my warehouse for foreign export. I want to re-label my cosmetics while they are in Canada. The products will not be sold to Canadians. Upon receiving orders from foreign clients, my company will fulfill the orders and export the cosmetics to my foreign clients.

Health Canada’s approach to compliance and enforcement activities, in relation to consumer products and cosmetics, is described in this document in Part 8 – Guiding Principles.

Additional information

8. Guiding principles

The Consumer Product Safety Program’s (CPSP) approach to compliance and enforcement actions is set out in Health Canada’s Compliance and Enforcement Policy Framework. A wide range of compliance and enforcement actions and tools are available to enable the program to choose the level of intervention that is the most appropriate for the situation. Generally, CPSP will consider various circumstances, including:

9. Roles and responsibilities

Health Canada, regulated parties and consumers all have roles and responsibilities in relation to consumer products and cosmetics.

Government of Canada’s role

Health Canada’s Consumer Product Safety Program (CPSP) is responsible for the administration and enforcement of the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act and its regulations for consumer products, as well as the Food and Drugs Act and its Cosmetic Regulations for cosmetics.

The CPSP works closely with the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) to monitor the movement of consumer products or cosmetics into and out of Canada. Together, they take steps to:

At the border, CBSA border officers may detain any consumer product or cosmetic that they suspect do not comply with Canadian law. The CBSA may contact the CPSP to assess whether the products that have been detained comply with the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act and the Food and Drugs Act. In these situations, CPSP may:

Depending on the outcome of the CPSP’s assessment, CBSA may take the following actions with the products:

If the products are refused entry or seized, CPSP and/or the CBSA will notify the owner (importer and exporter) in writing of the decision. Health Canada and the CBSA are not responsible for loss, damage or expense for products that are refused or seized.

Section 26 of the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act states that a product that has been seized by Health Canada will be forfeited to the crown if:

  • within 60 days after the seizure, no person is identified as its owner or as the person entitled to possess it;
  • within 60 days after the day on which the owner or the person entitled to possess it was notified of the seized products’ release, but the owner or the person entitled to possess it does not claim it; or
  • the owner or the person entitled to possess it consents to forfeit the seized product.

Once forfeited, Health Canada may store, move, dispose or destroy the seized product at the expense of its owner.

General information about the activities Health Canada and the CBSA can perform at the border can be found in the Umbrella Memorandum of Understanding between the Canada Border Services Agency and Health Canada and its Annex 1.

Industry’s role

Industry (that is, importers, exporters, and other supply chain partners) have a responsibility to ensure products meet the requirements outlined in the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act and its regulations, and the Food and Drugs Act and its Cosmetic Regulations.

Industry should include information with the shipment that shows the products in the shipment meet the applicable requirements of these Acts and regulations. For example, Health Canada recommends that industry include the unique Cosmetic Number – assigned by Health Canada – with the shipment of cosmetics.

Consumer’s role

Consumers are responsible for maintaining and protecting their health and safety and the health and safety of those around them through the appropriate use of consumer products or cosmetics. Consumers are strongly encouraged to familiarize themselves with how to use products safely and only to buy products from reputable sources or suppliers.

Subscribe and stay informed about product safety alerts and recalls or report an incident involving a consumer product or cosmetic.

Consumers bringing products across the border into Canada should be aware that some consumer products are not allowed into Canada by law, even if it is for personal use (See Bringing Consumer Products into Canada).

Buying consumer products and cosmetics online may expose consumers and their families to potential risks. Learn how to minimize risk when buying these products online.

10. Contact us

Health Canada and the Canada Border Services Agency may be contacted at the following coordinates:

Health Canada’s Consumer Product Safety Program

Enquiries related to consumer products

Email: hc.cps-spc.sc@canada.ca
Phone: 1-866-662-0666 (toll-free within Canada and the United States)

Enquiries related to cosmetics

E-mail: hc.cosmetics.sc@canada.ca
Phone: 1-866-662-0666 (toll-free within Canada and the United States)

Canada Border Services Agency

Email: contact@cbsa.gc.ca
Phone: 1-800-461-9999 (toll-free, calls within Canada)
Canada Border Service Agency Website

Appendices

Appendix A – Glossary

Acronyms

CPSP:
Consumer Product Safety Program
CCPSA:
Canada Consumer Product Safety Act
CBSA:
Canada Border Services Agency
FDA:
Food and Drugs Act
CR:
Cosmetic Regulations

Terms

Appendix B – Consumer products with specific regulatory requirements and their associated guides

In addition to the product specific regulatory requirements below, in all cases, products you bring into Canada cannot pose a “danger to human health or safety”. 

To see the most up-to-date Regulations under the authority of the CCPSA, please visit the CCPSA Justice Canada webpage and scroll down to the heading "Regulations made under this Act".

Consumer products with specific regulatory requirements under the CCPSA
Consumer product Regulations, guides and resources
Asbestos product Asbestos Products Regulations
Candles Candles Regulations
Carbonated beverage glass containers Carbonated Beverage Glass Containers Regulations
Carriage, convertible carriage-stroller and stroller Carriages and Strollers Regulations
Cellulose fibre insulation Cellulose Fibre Insulation Regulations
Charcoal Charcoal Regulations
Children's jewellery Children's Jewellery Regulations
Children's sleepwear Children's Sleepwear Regulations
Cigarette ignition propensity Cigarette Ignition Propensity (Consumer Products) Regulations
Consumer chemicals and containers Consumer Chemicals and Containers Regulations
Consumer Products Containing Lead (Contact with Mouth) Consumer Products Containing Lead (Contact with Mouth) Regulations
Corded Window Covering Products Corded Window Covering Products Regulations
Cribs, Cradles and Bassinets Cribs, Cradles and Bassinets Regulations
Expansion gates and expandable enclosures Expansion Gates and Expandable Enclosures Regulations
Face Protectors for Ice Hockey and Box Lacrosse Players Face Protectors for Ice Hockey and Box Lacrosse Players Regulations
Glass Doors and Enclosures Glass Doors and Enclosures Regulations
Glazed Ceramics and Glassware Glazed Ceramics and Glassware Regulations
Ice Hockey Helmet Ice Hockey Helmet Regulations
Infant Feeding Bottle Nipples Infant Feeding Bottle Nipples Regulations
Kettles Kettles Regulations
Lighters Lighters Regulations
Matches Matches Regulations
Mattresses Mattresses Regulations
Pacifiers Pacifiers Regulations
Phthalates Phthalates Regulations
Playpens Playpens Regulations
Residential Detectors Residential Detectors Regulations
Restraint Systems and Booster Seats for Motor Vehicles Restraint Systems and Booster Seats for Motor Vehicles Regulations
Science Education Sets Science Education Sets
Surface Coating Materials Surface Coating Materials Regulations
Tents Tents Regulations
Textile Flammability Textile Flammability Regulations
Textile Floor Coverings Textile Floor Coverings Regulations
Toys Toys Regulations

Appendix C – References

Laws

Policies and guidance document

Incident reporting and notification form

Other

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