The Domestic Substances List (DSL) and the Non-Domestic Substances List (NDSL)

 In Product Safety, Regulatory Affairs



What is CEPA and How Does it Impact Me?

The Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA), 1999 came into force in 2000 and focuses on the impact of substances on human health and environmental health and safety. CEPA imposes a risk-based approach to assessing the potential impact substances may have on human and/or environmental health. This assessment is regulated under the New Substances Notification Regulations (NSNR). It applies to any substance that is new to the Canadian market. The New Substances Notifications Regulations is a volume-based set of regulations that dictate when and how you need to submit a notification to Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC).

One thing you may be wondering is, “How do I know if a substance is new in Canada”? Luckily, Health Canada has a tool for anyone to use that allows one to find out if a substance is:

  • NEW (not on the Domestic Substances List or Non-Domestic Substances List); or
  • EXISTING substance (present on the Domestic Substances List).

This tool is called the Substances Search. A simple CAS number search will return a page that displays which list the substances is on, if any. Continue reading to learn more about the DSL and NDSL.


What is the Domestic Substances List (DSL)?

The Domestic Substances List (DSL) is a compilation of substances that were in use or in-commerce in Canada between January 1 1984 and December 31 1986. These substances are considered to be existing substances and do not require any tracking. A company is permitted to import or manufacture substances on the DSL in any amount, without the requirement to track usage.


What is the Non-Domestic Substances List (NDSL)?

The NDSL is another list used in Canada. Unlike the DSL, if a substance is present on this list, it requires tracking and falls under the new substance program, requiring a new substance notification. This requirement is in place because ECCC is lacking the information needed to determine the safety of said substance in the Canadian market.

What is a New Substance?

Now, you might find yourself asking “what exactly is a new substance?” A new substance is a material that is new to the Canadian market and has not undergone an assessment by Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) to determine the potential effects to the Canadian population or the possible environmental impact. These substances are often used in other countries with no issues. But if they are imported into Canada, they must undergo a review process in order to determine if the substance is safe under the requirements of Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA). In order for a substance to be reviewed and approved for use in Canada, a New Substance Notification will need to be submitted to ECCC under the New Substances Notification Program.

There are different categories that a substance can fall under depending on the type of substance or how much will be manufactured/imported. The first is the Domestic Substances List – as discussed earlier, these substances are ones that were in use in the Canadian market between January 1 1984 and December 31 1986 whether imported or manufactured. They were automatically added to the DSL and if present on this list can be manufactured or imported without limit. The second is the Non-Domestic Substances List, which as mentioned earlier has limits for what you are able to manufacture or import before you are required to notify ECCC.

Note: it is important to check these lists regularly as substances can be added or removed as new data becomes available to ECCC.

A new substance notification is a requirement under the New Substance Notification Regulations (NSNR). The NSNR states that any substance subject to Section 80-89 in CEPA new substance must undergo an assessment by Environment and Climate Change Canada.


How Dell Tech Can Help with the DSL and the NDSL

What Schedule am I? How much can I import into Canada? What information do I need to provide the ECCC?

Dell Tech is here to help you find the answers to these questions. The New Substances Notification program can be a challenge to navigate, but Dell Tech has the expertise and the experience get you through the complexities of the NSN program!




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

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

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