European Companies selling Chemical Products in Canada

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Are you a European company thinking of selling your chemical products in Canada?  Here are some things that may impact your sale.

By: Kirsten Alcock, Manager of Product Safety, email

Products that are intended for sale within Canada must meet the requirements of a variety of different regulations. There are a multitude of questions you must ask yourself.  Is your product intended for sale to consumers or workplace? Are your chemicals listed on the Domestic Substances List (DSL)? Is your SDS and label compliant for Canada? Do you have any Trade Secrets? Below are some things to ponder about before importation.

What is your intended market?

Where you plan on selling your product will determine the regulations you must comply with. For example, if you intend to sell your product to consumers (without claims), your product must meet the CCCR requirements. This is very different than that within the Europe Union. The European system for classification currently utilizes the GHS pictograms for consumers. Canada has not followed suit. Workplaces and consumers are different regulations with different symbol/phrase requirements.  The CCCR for Canada has mandated symbols and phrases that must come from these regulations.  If you would like to sell your consumer product to Canada, you will need to determine your claims first. This will determine how it must be labelled.

Is it on the Canadian Inventory? What is the DSL?

Back in May 4 of 1994, Environment and Climate Change Canada published the Domestic Substances List (DSL) in Part II of the Canada Gazette. The DSL is an inventory of approximately 23 000 substances manufactured in, imported into, or used within Canada on a commercial scale. It is based on substances present in Canada, under certain conditions, between January 1, 1984, and December 31 1986.

Under the Canadian Environmental Protections Act (CEPA), all chemical substances imported to, or manufactured within Canada must be assessed for risk to human health as well as the environment. Any substance not included on the DSL is considered a New Substance and is subject to the New Substance Notification Regulations (NSNR). The NSNR applies to chemicals, polymers, biochemicals, biopolymers and animate products of biotechnology (living organisms) such as bacteria, fungi, and genetically modified fish and livestock.

It is crucial that the DSL status is determined prior to importation.

Although a chemical may be on the EINECS list within Europe, does not mean that it is on the DSL for Canada.  Your chemicals should be checked for compliance before importation.

Can I use my European SDS and Label in Canada? To answer this simply: No.

There is some confusion regarding the use of European labels and their associated SDSs within Canada for workplaces. GHS may stand for Globally Harmonized System but unfortunately, this is a misnomer. Any product imported and sold into a Canadian workplace must have SDSs and labels in compliance with Version 5 statements of the GHS Regulations. The format must meet Schedule 1 of the Hazardous Products Regulations (SOR 2015-17).  If applicable, the SDS must also include information about additional classifications Canada adopted such as PNOCS, HHNOCS, combustible dusts, simple asphyxiants and pyrophoric gases. The requirement for a Canadian supplier address is also required on the SDS.

Are your ingredients considered Trade Secrets?

Another difference between Canada and Europe is the use of Trade Secrets. A Trade Secret number issued within the European Union may not be used within Canada. Any SDS coming into Canada claiming trade secret without a Canadian government-issued number is not compliant.

If a supplier/manufacturer wishes to withhold the chemical identity, CAS number, weight and/or percentage of any hazardous ingredients on the SDS as Confidential Business Information (CBI), an HMIRA Claim For Exemption Registration must be filed and approved by Health Canada. So although you may have a trade secret within the European country you’ve been selling within, it cannot be used within Canada.

Under an HMIRA Registration, chemical names may be replaced with a Generic Chemical Identity (GCI) and registrants may mask functional groups, location, and the number of substitutions. However, broad and vague terms such as “proprietary”, “trade secret” or “surfactant” are not acceptable.

So, you’ve discovered your SDSs or labels are not compliant, your chemical is not listed, or you want more information about Trade Secret Requirements in Canada. What now?

Contact Dell Tech Laboratories. We are your experts in GHS classification and can help convert your existing SDS into a format that meets current Canadian requirements. We offer our SDSs in English, Canadian French and Spanish. Our SDSs include a complimentary GHS hazard label to include within your overall label.

We can help you determine if your chemical is new to Canada before importing and provide guidance on Canada’s New Substances Notification Requirements.

If you have a trade secret in Europe and would like to continue to keep your chemical confidential, we can help you obtain an HMIRA number for Canada.

If you would like more information about these aforementioned differences between Canada and Europe, please contact Dell Tech Laboratories for further details on our services.

Dell Tech
Kirsten Alcock, B.Sc. (Hons) 
Manager, Product Safety Group

Dell Tech has provided professional, confidential consulting services to the chemical specialty

industry in Canada, the USA, Europe, and Asia for the last 40 years.

Contact us today for more information.

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