Just before the pandemic hit exports from Canada were estimated to be around $729 billion. This took into account both goods and services that were exported to other countries, mostly to the US. In 2020, the value of exported goods was $388 billion, down from $445 billion.

Around 75% of all Canadian exports go to the states, and the biggest export is crude petroleum. However, billions of dollars worth of goods are also exported to China, Mexico, Germany, and Japan. With the ecommerce sector blowing up, it isn’t just raw materials that are exported now either.

Small to medium-sized Canadian businesses may want to export goods to partners or customers overseas. This can help to reduce dependence on one market and help to stabilize sales that are traditionally seasonal. But, some things need to be understood when exporting from Canada.

What are the problems facing exporters in Canada?

Lack of funding is one of the greatest hurdles for any business. There are many financing options for businesses in Canada. Nothing can stop a company from growing more than cash flow concerns.

Exporting to other countries opens up a wider market, and this can help a business to grow. Balancing growth and quality can be difficult though. When a business starts exporting there are many logistics to consider. Warehousing, transportation, documentation, and restrictions on certain goods.

Below are a few of the things that exporters should consider.

Arrange transportation & storage

To deal with the logistics of exporting it is worth considering using transportation consulting firms. These specialists can advise clients regarding freight transportation, warehousing, distribution centers, supply chains, and IT systems.

These consultants can advise on whether you require a TMS, or transportation management system, and they can help you to select a carrier. Regardless of whether you use the ocean, air, or land to transport your goods, they can often help with negotiations between you and your carrier.

Using a consultancy firm to handle the logistics can make the process far easier. The problems facing exporters are time frames for delivery, the risk of damage or loss of goods, and theft. Good logistical planning is crucial, as is choosing the right carrier.

Register for a business number

If your plan is to export goods from Canada then you must be registered as a business. You can register for a business number online or apply for a Canada Revenue Agency program account

Identify your niche

If you have decided to get into the export game then you will need to research whether there is a need for your goods in other regions. Identifying a gap in a foreign market could lead to high levels of exports and increased revenue.

It could be that there is a shortage of certain raw materials in the UK or a need for other goods in Australia. Identifying a niche will help to see the export side of your business grow.

Are there restrictions on the goods you want to export?

Before exporting anything you will have to check whether they are on the banned list. This list contains items that either cannot be exported or require certain documentation.

It is also vital that you continue to check with current restrictions as they can change due to world events. For instance, certain luxury goods are banned from being exported to Russia. Also, anything that can be used in the manufacture of weapons is banned from export to Russia due to current events.

Obtain necessary documentation

You will need to determine whether or not you need an export declaration. Certain goods require an export declaration, while others don’t. There are several administration obstacles to overcome when exporting. You may require permits, licenses, and a certificate of origin.

You can also use the Canadian Export Reporting System, or CERS, which is online for an export declaration. Alternatively, you can take advice from an export consultancy firm.

Ensure the destination country allows the import of your goods

Just as Canada restricts the export of certain goods, other countries have their own lists of prohibited imports. These lists won’t necessarily match up. Therefore, just because you are allowed to export something from Canada, doesn’t mean the destination country will accept its importation.

For example, China has a strict view of certain items. Anything that is considered to be harmful to the cultural, moral, economic, or political interests of China will be banned from import. This can mean printed material such as books, and certain movies.

You will need to understand the legalities of the foreign markets you are dealing with, but over time, you will gain experience with border controls and import/export laws.


Determining whether your goods will sell overseas is only one part of being a successful exporter. The laws need to be understood, and a strong logistical plan needs to be in place to ensure everything goes smoothly.

Foreign currency exchange rates need to be considered also. In today’s high-inflation economy the financial risks must also be considered when exporting overseas.

A consultancy firm that specializes in helping businesses export goods can help to iron out all of these problems, and for any business that is unacquainted with exporting, they could be crucial for success.