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Participating Government Agencies (PGAs) and the Single Window Initiative (SWI)


Some Canadian importers are surprised to discover that their goods must comply with regulations from multiple government agencies - in addition to the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA). Failure to do so can create significant delays and additional costs.

Participating Government Agencies (PGAs) work with the CBSA to protect the interests of individual Canadians and businesses. Instead of submitting documents and data to each organization, importers benefit from a Single Window Initiative (SWI) that allows Canadian agencies to seamlessly exchange data. This simplifies the import process for businesses, reducing the work required to stay compliant when bringing goods across Canada's border.

What are PGAs and their role in the Single Window Initiative?

PGAs, also referred to as “Other Government Departments (OGDs)”, control jurisdiction over a specific set of goods that make their way across the Canadian border. PGAs oversee importers that ship products within the PGA’s mandate to make sure that the importer complies with regulations and laws. These rules and laws are designed to defend Canadian businesses against unfair competition and protect the safety, health, and prosperity of Canadians.

Currently, importers deal with one of nine PGAs that work with the CBSA. Together, the CBSA and PGAs enable the Single Window Initiative that streamlines data exchange through an electronic Integrated Import Declaration (IID). This allows commercial data to be seamlessly exchanged between the CBSA, PGA, and importer, making it quicker and easier to comply with import regulations specific to the goods travelling across the border.HubSpot Blog -  Inside Image Size 2023 (400 x 267 px) (1)

What are the nine PGAs in Canada?

1. Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) – The CFIA secures the safety of food and agricultural goods, such as fruits, vegetables, processed food, and some dairy products. The CFIA requires food importers to obtain an import permit for these types of products.

2. Transport Canada – With a mandate that focuses on efficient, safe, and environmentally sustainable transportation, Transport Canada is in charge of policies and programs that involve transportation.

3. Health Canada – Health Canada focuses on safety surrounding a wide range of consumer goods, with the aim of ensuring the health of Canadians.

4. Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) – The ECCC takes responsibility for the preservation or the environment, including policies and programs that involve renewable resources.

5. Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) – The mission of the DFO helps to ensure that fisheries and aquatic ecosystems remain economically profitable and sustainable, while safeguarding Canadian waters.

6. Public Health Agency of Canada – This type of PGA focuses on improving the physical and mental health of Canadians, such as the prevention of disease and injuries and the provision of information that allows Canadians to make informed decisions about their health.

7. Natural Resources Canada – Natural Resources Canada is dedicated to the sustainable, inclusive, and competitive development of Canada’s resources, with a focus on improving the quality of life for Canadians.

8. Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) – The CNSC regulates nuclear materials and energy, including security, safety, and environmental concerns surrounding nuclear energy.

9. Global Affairs Canada – This department focuses on promoting international trade and diplomatic relations, with a wide mandate that includes consular assistance, national security, and international law.

What are importers responsible for with PGAs and the SWI?

Businesses are responsible for readying any necessary documentation before importing. The documents needed depend on the goods being imported, including licenses, certificates, permits, and other types of paperwork. Understanding the requirements of the relevant PGA helps to ensure that you’re compliant, allowing for smooth CBSA clearance of your goods at the border.

Sometimes you’ll need to get required documentation directly from a PGA. Businesses that import food into Canada need to obtain a Safe Food for Canadians License (SFCL) from the CFIA. This license can’t be obtained from the CBSA, so food importers will need to get one from the CFIA.

In some cases, a product that you import will fall under the jurisdiction of multiple PGAs. For example, a purse made of leather could fall within the jurisdiction of the ECCC because it’s a wildlife product, and under Health Canada as a consumer product. For this scenario, the importer would need to meet regulations for both PGAs in order to stay compliant. If you don’t comply with requirements for one or both PGAs, the CBSA will hold your goods at the border.

Companies that stay informed can experience a seamless transportation of products across the Canadian border by complying with all relevant PGA and CBSA requirements. Connect with Cole's SWI Support Team to simplify the process and ensure the swift movement of your goods.

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