Are you an exporter?

You probably already know that “exporting” is when a business sells to customers in another country. For example, if a bakery in Toronto makes maple syrup cookies and sells them in Japan, that’s exporting. The bakery is the exporter and Japan is the export market. 

But that’s just part of it. Exporting is the flow of goods and services to markets outside Canada.

A Canadian business, big or small, that sells or contributes to the sale of goods and/or services outside Canada may be an exporter


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Export Development Canada (EDC) may view you as an exporter if: 

  • You sell a good and/or service to customers outside Canada’s borders (direct exporters);
  • You create a good and/or service that forms part of an international supply chain (indirect exporters);
  • You have a plan to export in the future (future exporters).


Let’s break it down:

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Direct exporters earn revenue from customers outside Canada for their goods and/or services. If you have payments coming in from buyers or customers outside Canada, this is you.  

For example*:

  • Engineering firm consulting on projects outside Canada
  • Tech companies working with non-Canadian customers
  • Agricultural commodity trader selling to buyers outside Canada
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Indirect exporters don’t export directly themselves; they support the supply chain of Canadian exporters. In other words, they sell goods and/or services to companies within Canada, that, in turn, incorporate those goods and/or services into their own products, which they sell to customers outside Canada. 

Indirect exporters can be found in different industry sectors, including:

  • Information and communication technologies;
  • Light manufacturing; and
  • Resources (including agriculture).

For example*:

  • Canadian company that builds and sells components to a Canadian manufacturer who incorporates those components into their finished equipment, and then sells a significant amount of that equipment outside Canada
  • Farmer who grows and sells grains to a commodity broker or commodities exchange, which then sells a significant amount of that grain outside Canada
  • Tulip grower selling to a local large retailer, who sells a significant amount of those tulips to buyers outside Canada
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Future exporters are looking to take on their first contract outside Canada or have a defined export plan. If you’re still “getting ready” to export, but thinking beyond Canada’s borders is part of your business plan, you could be a future exporter. 

For example*:

  • Canadian garment manufacturer currently selling to buyers in Canada, that has done market research and used it to develop a viable business plan to start selling to buyers outside Canada
  • Tech company with a proven concept commercialized in Canada, and actively marketing the technology to potential buyers outside Canada

*These examples aren’t exhaustive. If you still have questions about whether you qualify as an exporter, send us a message.


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Date modified: 2024-01-08