Chapter 6: Non-Compliance with Canadian Packaging and Labeling Requirements

Canada is a bi-lingual country, with both English and French listed as the nation’s official languages.  According to results of Canada’s 2016 census, more than 20 percent of the overall population list French as their “preferred” language, and the English-French bi-lingualism rate reached the highest proportion ever at almost 18 percent.  As such, the government’s labeling and packaging requirements reflect this bilingualism.  

Products entering Canada must comply with numerous marketing and labeling requirements that are mandated both at the federal level and by the provinces.  The federal Consumer Packaging and Labeling Act, for example, mandates that products be labeled in English and French, with weights and measurements displayed in metrics.  In addition, an imported product must display the name of a Canadian importer, along with a country of origin marking such as “Made in the USA.”

At the provincial level, care must be taken to ensure compliance with any and all specific requirements.  The province of Quebec, where French is the sole official language, has exacting requirements with regard to the prominence of French on materials including labels, instructions/warranties, marketing materials, advertising materials, and brand names.  In general, Quebec’s Charter of the French Language requires all products be labeled in French, and that French be given equal prominence with any other language on a product’s packaging.

In addition, certain product categories are subject to specific labeling requirements.  Clothing manufacturers or retailers, for example, must comply with requirements set forth in the Textile Labelling Act, while food exporters are subject to Canadian Food Inspection Agency mandates.

With certain exceptions, goods that do not comply with required marking and labelling specifications will be refused entry and in some instances, may be subject to monetary penalties under CBSA’s Administrative Monetary Penalty System (AMPs).  


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