Is Your E-Commerce Business "Regulatory Ready" For Canada? A Checklist For Sellers Of Consumer Products

Gowling WLG


Gowling WLG is an international law firm built on the belief that the best way to serve clients is to be in tune with their world, aligned with their opportunity and ambitious for their success. Our 1,400+ legal professionals and support teams apply in-depth sector expertise to understand and support our clients’ businesses.
Expanding your e-commerce business into the Canadian market can open up exciting opportunities, but it also comes with a complex regulatory landscape that demands careful navigation.
Canada Food, Drugs, Healthcare, Life Sciences
To print this article, all you need is to be registered or login on

Expanding your e-commerce business into the Canadian market can open up exciting opportunities, but it also comes with a complex regulatory landscape that demands careful navigation. Canada's stringent regulations for consumer products such as foods, natural health products (NHPs), cosmetics, medical devices, veterinary health products (VHPs) and even children's toys and textile goods, require meticulous attention to detail to ensure compliance.

Ready to get your regulatory house in order? Follow the checklist below to ensure your business is compliant and positioned for success:

1. Formula check: Ready, set, go!

Before launching any product, it's crucial to ensure that its formulation or composition complies with Canadian regulations. Conduct thorough reviews of your product to ensure they meet Health Canada's standards and are classified appropriately. This proactive approach can prevent costly setbacks and ensure a smoother market entry.

2. Label like a pro: Packaging that pops

Canada's bilingual (French-English) requirements and strict guidelines on product claims mean that all labelling and packaging materials must be meticulously reviewed. Ensure that claims are appropriately substantiated and that your labels adhere to both language and content regulations to avoid penalties and product recalls.

3. NHP licenses: Your golden ticket

Natural health products (known as dietary supplements in other regions) require specific licensing before they can be marketed. Navigating the NHP license application process, including amendments and related submissions, is essential. Detailed knowledge of Health Canada's requirements can expedite this process, ensuring your product hits the market without unnecessary delays.

4. Cosmetic green light: Notify and shine

For cosmetic products, ingredient and label reviews are critical, as is providing the necessary cosmetic notifications to Health Canada. This process involves validating the status of all cosmetic ingredients and ensuring labels accurately reflect the ingredients, product benefits and usage.

5. Pet products on point: VHP Notifications

Veterinary health products, including pet supplements, must undergo rigorous review. This includes product and label evaluations and the submission of VHP notifications to Health Canada. Meeting these standards is crucial for the legal sale of pet products in Canada.

6. Other products: Other rules?

NHPs, cosmetics and VHPs are just a few examples of regulated products in Canada. From foods, to medical devices to toys, Canada has an array of regulations, standards and policies that could impact your ability to advertise and sell compliantly. You don't know what you don't know – working with a partner that knows Canada's regulatory landscape means you don't have to.

7. Claim it right: Truth in marketing

Clear, accurate, and compliant product claims are non-negotiable in the Canadian market. Whether for health, nutrition, or cosmetic products, each claim must be backed by robust evidence. Engage with experts who can provide scientific support and expert guidance to compile comprehensive safety and efficacy documentation and claim substantiation. This step is vital for gaining consumer trust and avoiding potential disputes and legal issues.

8. Import like a boss: Licensing essentials

Understanding and obtaining the necessary import licenses is a critical step. Depending on your business model, you may need a DEL (Drug Establishment Licence), MDEL (Medical Device Establishment Licence), Site Licence, or SFC (Safe Food for Canadians) Licence. Strategize the most efficient import structure to streamline your supply chain and distribution.

9. Regulatory ninja: Government representation

Navigating regulatory compliance doesn't end with pre-market review or approval. Engaging with government departments and agencies for both pre-market and post-market activities, including handling stop sales and recalls, is essential. Having a representative who can advocate on your behalf can significantly ease this process and mitigate risks.

10. Stay ahead: Keep up with regulatory changes

The regulatory environment is constantly evolving. Stay informed about any changes in Canadian regulations that may affect your products. Regular updates and ongoing compliance reviews are necessary to maintain market access and avoid unexpected disruptions.

These steps will give your e-commerce businesses a clear roadmap for a smooth and compliant market entry. However, when the stakes are high, seeking qualified legal advice from experts in the field is always the best way to navigate Canada's labyrinth of consumer product regulations. With the right legal and regulatory support, you can enhance your brand's credibility, build consumer trust, and stay ahead in a competitive market.

Read the original article on

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

See More Popular Content From

Mondaq uses cookies on this website. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies as set out in our Privacy Policy.

Learn More