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Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is an export permit?
2. My products and technologies are not sold for military purposes, could
I still require an export permit?
3. How do I know whether my product requires an export permit?
4. Can I export to any country?
5. What is the “Export Control List”?
6. Does it matter if my product incorporates goods or technology of
7. Do I need an export permit to ship my product or technology to
8. What qualifies as an “export”?
9. How long does it take to obtain an export permit?
10. What are the penalties for non-compliance with Canada’s export
11. What steps can I take to ensure that my company complies with
Canada’s export control laws?
12. What steps should my company take if non-compliance with Canada’s
export control laws is identified?
13. Where can I get more information?2
1) What is an export permit?
Residents of Canada are not permitted to export certain types of products
or technologies, certain products of U.S. origin, to certain destination
countries or identified terrorist individuals or groups without first obtaining
an export permit.
Under the Export and Import Permits Act, the Minister may issue an export
permit to a resident of Canada allowing the export of items included on the
“Export Control List”, or items to a country included in an “Area Control
List”, subject to such terms and conditions described in the export permit.
Export permit applications are assessed, and export permits are issued, by
the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada.
2) My products and technologies are not sold for military
purposes, could I still require an export permit?
Regardless of whether or not products and technologies are sold for
military purposes, they may be subject to Canada’s export control regime.
Canada controls the export of “dual-use” products and technologies.
Dual-use items include products and technologies associated with a variety
of advanced materials, electronics, computers, telecommunications,
sensors, lasers, navigation, avionics, marine equipment and technology
and propulsion. Examples of dual-use items include software and hardware
that use certain types of encryption, optical switches, optical fibre, certain
digital video camera technology and “heads up display” technology.
Canada also limits the ability for residents of Canada to export to certain
countries, as well as to certain individuals or groups associated with
terrorism. Regardless of the nature of your product or technology,
the export destination may require an export permit.3
3) How do I know whether my product requires
an export permit?
In order to assess if an export permit is required, you must determine
whether your export items are:
1. destined to countries on the Area Control List
2. destined to countries subject to Canada’s economic sanctions or
to associations/individuals linked to terrorism by Canada;
3. covered by the Export Control List;
4. goods or technology of U.S. origin; or
5. subject to export controls by Canadian government departments or
agencies other than the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and
If the answer to any of these questions is “yes”, then there exists a strong
possibility that you require an export permit.
4) Can I export to any country?
The Area Controlled List identifies countries to which no resident of
Canada may export items without first obtaining an export permit.
All items going to a country on the Area Controlled List require an export
permit before they can be exported. Currently, the only two countries
listed on Canada’s Area Controlled List are Belarus, and the Democratic
People’s Republic of Korea.
Canada also imposes a variety of economic sanctions. These economic
sanctions, in part, restrict or prohibit trade or other economic activity
between Canada and the target country. The countries that are subject to
economic sanctions include Burma/Myanmar, Central African Republic,
Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Eritrea, Guinea-Bissau,
Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Liberia, North Korea, Russia, Somalia, south
Sudan, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia and Egypt, Ukraine, Yemen and Zimbabwe.
If you intend to export products or technology to these countries, you
should first review the trade limitations imposed by the sanctions.4
5) What is the “Export Control List”?
The Export Control List sets out a variety of items and technologies that
require permits for export, regardless of their export destination. The
Export Control List is organized into seven groups as follows:
Group 1: Dual-Use List
Group 2: Munitions List
Group 3: Nuclear Non-Proliferation List
Group 4: Nuclear-Related Dual-Use List
Group 5: Miscellaneous Goods
Group 6: Missile Technology Control Regime List
Group 7: Chemical and Biological Weapons Non-Proliferation List
The “dual-use” list contains products and technologies that many
companies would not expect to be subject to export controls. If your
products or technologies relate to advanced materials, encryption,
electronics, computers, telecommunications, sensors, lasers, navigation,
avionics, marine or propulsion then you should review the Export Control
List to determine whether your product requires an export permit.
6) Does it matter if my product incorporates goods or
technology of U.S. origin?
In recognition of a bilateral arrangement with the U.S. that accords
favourable export permit treatment to the shipment of products and
technologies between Canada and the U.S., where a Canadian resident
seeks to export U.S. origin goods or technology, it is generally required to
obtain an export permit. In most cases Canadian exporters may rely upon
General Export Permit No 12. which is administratively easy to use. 5
7) Do I need an export permit to ship my product or
technology to the U.S.?
Under a bilateral arrangement with the U.S., export permits are generally
not required for most items identified in the Export Control List when
shipped to a final destination in the U.S. However, if the export items are
not for consumption in the U.S. and are only transiting through the U.S. for
export to other destinations, then an export permit will be required.
Export permits are required for certain military and strategic items,
including nuclear, chemical and biological weapons and related technology,
even if the U.S. is the final destination.
8) What qualifies as an “export”?
You may export a product or technology in many different ways. Any time
a product or technology is transferred from a place in Canada to a place
outside of Canada, an export occurs.
With respect to the transfer of technology, an export occurs when technical
data, technical assistance and information necessary for the development,
production or use of an article included on the Export Control List is
disclosed in any manner from a place in Canada to a place outside Canada.
An export can occur by in-person transfers (e.g. giving a presentation at
a meeting in a foreign country), electronic transfers (e.g. email, faxes,
telephone), database access and downloads, shipments (e.g. air
transport, ships/carriers, land trucks), and certain subcontracting
and sublicensing agreements. 6
9) How long does it take to obtain an export permit?
The length of time the Canadian government requires to process an export
permit application depends upon a variety of factors, including the nature
of the export items, the country of destination and the “track record” of
the exporting company.
Generally, for a company seeking its first export permit the processing
time takes 6-8 weeks. However, in some urgent situations export permits
have been obtained within days from receipt of a complete export permit
Because of the uncertainty of the processing time required to obtain an
export permit, it is very important that your company submit a complete
export permit application as soon as possible.
10) What are the penalties for non-compliance with
Canada’s export control laws?
If you export items that are controlled under the Export Control List
or Area Control List without an export permit, you can be subject to
significant penal and financial penalties.
Contravention of the Import and Export Permits Act may result in
(for every illegal export):
• on summary conviction a fine not exceeding $25,000 or imprisonment
for a term not exceeding 12 months, or to both; or
• on indictable offence a fine in an amount in the discretion of the court
or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 10 years, or to both.
Further, where a corporation commits the offence, then any officer
or director of the corporation who directed, authorized, assented to,
acquiesced in or participated in the commission of the offence can
be held personally responsible. 7
You may also be subject to the Administrative Monetary Penalty System
(AMPS), which authorizes the Canada Border Services Agency to impose
monetary penalties for non-compliance with customs laws and program
requirements. For instance, AMPS penalties for failing to report goods
subject to export controls prior to export are as follows:
• 1st violation: the greater of $2,000 or 20% of value of goods
• 2nd violation: the greater of $4,000 or 40% of value of goods
• 3rd and subsequent violations: the greater of $6,000 or 60% of
value of goods
The prosecution of export control violations by the RCMP has recently
become much more aggressive. Compliance with Canadian laws has never
been more important.
11) What steps can I take to ensure that my company
complies with Canada’s export control laws?
All companies that export their products or technologies should undertake
an internal export compliance review. The internal compliance review should
assess whether any of the export items are subject to the Export Control List,
are considered U.S. origin goods or whether any of the export destinations
are subject to the Area Control List or economic sanctions.
Your company should also implement an internal export compliance
program. The internal export compliance program should, amongst other
things, identify an export compliance manager, establish a records keeping
policy and an internal audit procedure, set out internal training requirements
and confirm the processes relating to export permit applications.8
12) What steps should my company take if non-compliance
with Canada’s export control laws is identified?
If you are unsure that your goods are covered by Canada’s export control
regime, you are entitled to ask the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade
and Development Canada for an “advisory opinion” to determine whether
the export item requires an export permit.
If an export control violation is identified, your company will need to
consider commencing a voluntary disclosure process.
It is essential that your voluntary disclosure be accurate, complete, contrite
and in compliance with regulatory requirements. Ideally, you should fully
disclose all relevant facts and potential violations, present all mitigating
facts, set out the corrective actions taken and convey your company’s
commitment to export compliance.
The importance of the voluntary disclosure process cannot be overstated.
A flawed voluntary disclosure process may undermine your company’s
credibility with respect to the facts surrounding the export control violation
and its overall export compliance. It will also increase the risk of financial
penalties, and in the future, increase the level of scrutiny your company
faces when applying for subsequent export permits.9
13) Where can I get more information?
Further information about Canada’s export controls is available at:
The content of this article is intended to provide general guide to
the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your
You can also contact the following individuals who regularly advise
companies on Canadian export controls:
firstname.lastname@example.orgBorden Ladner Gervais LLP
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