Exporting to Canada

Exporting to Canada: five top tips

Canada is a country made up of ten provinces and three territories. It is the world’s second largest country by total area and has a total population of approximately 36 million people.

Around 90 companies from Northern Ireland are currently doing business in Canada with exports worth over £300 million. 
If you are considering Canada as an export market - read our top tips to help you get started.

1) Classify your goods: You, as the exporter, are responsible for the correct tariff classification of your goods. By correctly classifying your products you’ll know what measures apply to them.

Classify your goods using the UK Trade Tariff.

2) Visit the market: Market visits can be an important way of identifying customers, assessing the response to your product, and building relationships. Thorough preparation before a visit is essential. You need to be clear about what you hope to achieve. You also need to arrange any marketing materials (including translation) and interpreting services.

3) Focus on one province: With Canada being the second largest country in the world, don’t try to enter the Canadian market as a whole. It is better to focus on one province and develop a strong presence there. In many industries, key players are clustered around one or two cities. A successful export strategy will focus on these key locations.

4) Consider cultural diversity: Canada has a multi-cultural society, with a wide range of influences. The country is officially bilingual, using both English and French-Canadian. Be aware that there are substantial differences between the different provinces that make up the country, eg French is the dominant language in the province of Quebec.

Read more about understanding Canadian customers.

5) Plan your logistics: As Canada is such a large country, transport and logistics depend on precisely where your customers are. For example, goods can be easily shipped from ports in Belfast to ports such as Montreal on Canada's East Coast. Major cities are also easily accessible by air, with direct flights from Belfast to Toronto however onward connections and deliveries to other locations can be more complex.

Unless your delivery requirements are straightforward, you should consider working with a freight forwarder.

Read more about exporting to Canada and support for exporting.