The Customs Act requires certain goods to be marked with the country of origin prior to importation. Origin marking must be visible to the ultimate purchaser or recipient, and must be permanently affixed to the goods. The regulations allow for certain goods to be affixed with a non-permanent label, and include exemption provisions.

Origin marking requirements should not be confused with labelling requirements of other government departments such as Agri-Food, the Competition Bureau and Industry Canada (e.g. Consumer Packaging & Labelling, Textile Labelling).

Importing unmarked goods is an offence subject to civil penalties (AMPS)*, unless permission to mark the goods in a bonded warehouse is obtained prior to importation.

The list of goods that require marking is divided into the following product categories:

  • Goods for Personal or Household Use;
  • Hardware;
  • Novelties and Sporting Goods;
  • Paper Products;
  • Wearing Apparel; and
  • Horticultural Products.

Goods imported for the exclusive use of the importer or that importer’s employees and not for resale are exempt from marking requirements. This exclusion does not apply to goods for external distribution by the importer/owner (e.g., sales samples or giveaways, when they are imported from non-NAFTA countries).

Apparel samples for the use of the importer and not for resale, are exempt from marking. However, the regulations strongly suggest that importers obtain an Advance Ruling allowing the use of the exemption provisions.

Please note that if unmarked salesman samples are being imported, the words SAMPLES NOT FOR RESALE must appear on the documents at time of clearance.

If inspection occurs and the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) was not notified of the samples in the original EDI release transmission, the Customs Inspector has the right to demand marking.

* The Administrative Monetary Penalty System (AMPS) is a civil penalty regime that secures compliance with customs legislation through the application of monetary penalties.

Additional information concerning this and other recent developments is available from our technical consulting group.