How to Become a Non-Resident Importer

Everything you need to know about Canada’s Non-Resident Importer program and how it can help foreign companies looking to expand their business in the Canadian market.

What is a Non-Resident Importer?

A Non-Resident Importer, or NRI for short, usually refers to a company based outside of Canada that, for business reasons, acts as the Importer of Record* for products shipped into Canada to be sold to Canadian customers.

Being an NRI involves an all-inclusive “landed cost” approach that allows foreign companies to better compete with domestic suppliers without having to establish a physical presence in Canada, while also making it significantly more convenient for Canadian customers to buy their products. 

Why do Companies Become Non-Resident Importers?

Companies in the United States, Europe and elsewhere choose to become non-resident importers because it provides them with similar benefits to locating in Canada, without many of the expensive outlays and downside risks that would otherwise be involved.

This is because despite being a potentially lucrative market of 37 million people – roughly the same as that of California – the unique logistical challenges posed by Canada’s enormous geography and widely dispersed population have often proved discouraging, even sometimes insurmountable, to foreign companies looking to establish a physical presence in the country.

What are the Benefits of Being a Non-Resident Importer?

The main benefit of being a non-resident importer is that it enables your business to access the Canadian market while avoiding the capital investment, ongoing operating/overhead expenses, and tax implications associated with establishing a location in Canada. Becoming an NRI offers many other benefits and competitive advantages that are also worth considering. 

  • By taking on the responsibility to deliver your product “all in” to the buyer’s door, operating as an NRI provides your customers in Canada with a seamless, “hassle-free” purchasing experience comparable to that of dealing with a domestic vendor. Being able to compete this way on a level playing field in terms of convenience effectively removes one of the key obstacles to growing your sales in the Canadian market.

  • Being an NRI enables companies to exercise more control over their supply chain by limiting the number of service providers (carriers, brokers, etc.) involved. This allows you to establish better reliability and consistency in the shipping/clearance process, which can help improve compliance, reduce potential delays at the border, facilitate end-to-end shipment tracking, and improve delivery times to your customers. 

  • By acting as both the exporter and importer, you can also more effectively predict landed costs, rapidly adjust any price points as needed and make customers’ buying decisions a whole lot easier by quoting your full price in Canadian dollars.

  • Your import costs can be appreciably reduced by consolidating shipments, as goods designed for multiple customers across the country can all be cleared on a single customs entry.

How does a Company Get Started as a Non-Resident Importer?

To get started as a non-resident importer, a company must consider the following:
Business Number/Importer Number
Goods and Services Tax/Harmonized Tax
Your Import Responsibilities as an NRI
Customs Duties & Tariff Treatment
Tariff Classification
Customs Documentation
Maintenance of Books and Records

What are the Benefits of being a Non-Resident Importer with GHY?

  1. 1

    We ensure your business is registered properly in Canada, and help you understand the information needed for duty processing and Canadian tax filing. 

  2. 2

    They can review your product database to help assign the correct Canadian harmonized codes for each item.

  3. 3

    We also review where you are sourcing your raw materials from to determine if a preferential tariff treatment could be used to reduce your importing costs associated with duties and tariffs.

  4. 4

    To ensure visibility on your shipments, we can customize your client profile to automatically notify you the moment each order clears the border.

  5. 5

    We also have a customized online web portal, allowing you to monitor the status of shipments throughout the customs clearance process.

  6. 6

    We help increase sales into Canada by removing border clearance challenges.

  7. 7

    We guarantee consistent clearance processing methods that help reduce customs delays — creating potentially faster delivery times.