International Mobility Program: Sales

This section contains policy, procedures and guidance used by IRCC staff. It is posted on the department’s website as a courtesy to stakeholders.

R187 defines business visitors as those who are not entering the labour market. R187(2)(c) gives the specific example of persons selling goods and services, who meet that definition as long as they are not selling to the general public. Potential buyers NOT classified as the ‘general public’ include wholesalers, retailers, corporations and institutions. Some examples of sales situations are given below:


Sales negotiations

A business visitor may sell, take orders or negotiate contracts for goods (or services) during the same visit to Canada. If, however, the goods are delivered or the services are provided during the same visit to Canada, a work permit is required.

Foreign sales representatives and agents may not sell predominantly Canadian-made goods or Canadian-provided services without a work permit. The issue of whether the goods are made in or outside Canada relates to the issue of entry into the labour market. If a product is manufactured in Canada and sold in Canada, there is no reason that a Canadian should not be the one to sell the product. On the other hand, if, for example, a product is manufactured in Africa and then sold to a Canadian retailer, wholesaler or institution, this would be considered a normal international business practice. A foreign salesperson should be able to sell their products in another country as there is no entry into the labour market. The same applies to sales negotiations.

Sales to the general public

Persons engaging in regular sales to the general public require a work permit issued on the basis of a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA).

Direct sales organizations

Direct sales companies such as Amway Global (formerly known as Quixtar North America), Mary Kay or Avon Cosmetics and Homes Interiors and Gifts, Inc. send individuals to prospect and recruit Canadian salespeople to sell the company's products. These individuals may enter to give training and motivation sessions, and assist recruits in making their first presentations and sales to Canadian consumers. They may carry with them, when crossing the border, training material, promotional material such as brochures and catalogues, and various samples of the products which are to be used for demonstrations and training purposes only and are not to be sold in Canada. These people may be authorized to enter Canada as business visitors.

R187 allows foreign salespeople to sell products directly, provided that the products are non- Canadian products and that they are not delivered or available to the buyer at the time of the sale (on the same trip); the seller being able only to take orders for the products at the time of the sale.


For events held by the following organizations:

  • associations;
  • corporations; and
  • governments.

Events can be one of the following:

  • association meetings, conventions and congresses;
  • corporate meetings;
  • incentive meetings; or
  • trade shows, exhibitions and consumer shows.

Canadian Events

A Canadian event is one being held by an organization which is located in Canada. The organization must be actively doing business in Canada.

A Canadian event may be conducted by a branch or subsidiary of a foreign-based organization.

Foreign Events

A foreign event is one being held by an organization which is located in a country other than Canada. The organization must conduct its business from a location outside Canada.

Event Planners for a Foreign Organization

Permanent employees of foreign organizations planning events in Canada do not require work permits if they are:

  • executive organizing committee members; or
  • administrative support staff.

Persons working under contract for foreign organizations planning events in Canada do not require work permits if they are:

  • event planners;
  • exhibit managers;
  • professional conference organizers;
  • destination marketing company personnel; or
  • event accommodation consultants.

Event Planners for a Canadian Organization

If an event is conducted by a Canadian branch or a subsidiary of a foreign-based organization then it is a Canadian event (and employees of the foreign branch would require a work permit to work on the event in Canada).


Booth personnel, display stand personnel, and booth owners may enter Canada as business visitors to display or demonstrate goods at an event without work permits.

Selling goods

Exhibitors of all nationalities who want to sell foreign made goods to the general public and deliver them at the time of the sale require work permits. Work permits for this purpose are LMIA-exempt under R205(a) C10 (significant benefit guidelines). There are benefits deriving from their entry in that they hire Canadian services and purchase accommodations, etc.

Exhibitors who are citizens of the U.S. or Mexico who merely take orders for goods from the general public that will be delivered to the customer after the seller returns to their home country do not require work permits. They can benefit from treatment as business visitors under the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Exhibitors who take orders for foreign made goods on a business-to-business basis at trade shows that are attended by corporations, wholesalers, retailers, and institutions are considered to be business visitors and do not require work permits.

Exhibitors selling Canadian-made goods require work permits. Work permits for this purpose require an LMIA.

Setting up display

Company employees will require work permits to install and dismantle a booth or display if it is larger than a portable pop-up. Work permits for this purpose do not require an LMIA (C10).

Contract Service Providers

Work permits are required for foreign service providers who are working under contract for exhibitors, including persons who are involved in activities such as:

  • the installation and dismantling of a show or exhibit;
  • audio video, staging, or show decorating services; and
  • lighting, carpet laying, carpentry, or electrical work.

All foreign service providers working under contract to Canadian events require work permits. Work permits for this purpose require an LMIA.

Foreign service providers who are supervisory personnel working under contract for foreign events require work permits. Work permits for this purpose do not require an LMIA (C10), as long as the supervisors will be directing local hires.

Exhibitors are expected to hire Canadians to do all the labour on the convention floor.


Delegates, attendees, and board members are considered to be visitors.

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