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Single Window Initiative (SWI): Survival Guide for Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) Nuclear Substances and Equipment

Posted by CDN Customs Consulting Dept. - Cole International on Sep 30, 2020 9:00:00 AM

The new SWI landscape

The Single Window Initiative means several changes for importers:

  • how you need to submit documentation is in flux;
  • when that documentation is needed has changed; and
  • which documentation is required is also shifting.

SWI_Series_01_2020Our goal is to help you understand what is expected for the new “how, when, and what” of SWI requirements relating to the items you ship. These updates guide importers through specific commodities or categories of commodities, and the Participating Government Agencies (PGAs) that are affected.

How, when, and what

  • Single Window Initiative requires all import documentation to be prepared and submitted before the shipment reaches customs.
  • SWI is a new way of submitting documentation. All docs will be submitted using the Integrated Import Declaration (IID). Some of the requirements for how you submit are changing. For example: some documents that needed to be faxed now require an uploaded electronic image or just the document number.
  • There may be changes to which documents are required under SWI.
  • The launch date of SWI is still unknown, but it’s time to get proactive and adjust your workflow to ensure paperwork is ready before you ship.

Why importers need to know

Under the new SWI, it’s important that you understand which Participating Government Agencies (PGAs) are regulating your products. Some products are regulated by multiple PGAs, and the PGAs regulating your products may have changed under SWI. Additionally, each PGA and the CBSA can issue penalties for incorrect and missing documents. Understanding what information and documentation is needed for clearance will make the clearance process into Canada smoother and more efficient.

Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC): Nuclear Substances and EquipmentSWI_Computer_Series_Nuclear Substances and Equipment

Before importing nuclear substances and radiation devices, refer to the controlled nuclear substances and equipment list. The importer of the nuclear substances and radiation devices must obtain a CNSC license.

Required data elements for SWI

Commercial description

A commercial customs description of the commodity being imported must be provided. The description will vary depending on the categorization of the import:

Essential description elements based on categorization

Radiation device: device name (e.g., Gamma beam X200)

Nuclear substance: physical form of the substance (sealed, granules, powder, etc.)

Controlled nuclear substance: brief description of the substance being imported

Nuclear equipment: brief description of the equipment being imported

Commodity characteristic: chemical specification

The chemical specification varies depending on the categorization of the import.

For commodities that fall under the categorization of Radiation Devices and Nuclear Substances, the chemical specification is defined as the 1-3 character periodic table mixed-case symbol that applies to each individual element together with the atomic mass number, separated by a dash (e.g., Cs-137).

For compounds, separate element specifications by a forward slash (e.g., Cs-137/Ca).

For Controlled Nuclear Substances, the chemical specification used must appear as a specific code.

For Nuclear Equipment, the commercial description should be the schedule part number used in the item description of Section IV of the CNSC import licence (e.g., A.2.1.10).

Depending on the categorization of the import, the field must contain:

Nuclear equipment: the NNIECR schedule part number as it appears on your import licence (e.g., A.2.1.10)

Radiation device: chemical specification of the intended material to contain (e.g., Cs-137)

Nuclear substance: chemical specification (e.g., Y-90)

Controlled nuclear substance: the specification as it appears in the list below that corresponds to the controlled nuclear substance (e.g., plutonium) to be imported

Controlled nuclear substance specifications

  • Plutonium: Plutonium
  • Uranium enriched in the isotopes 233: EU-233
  • Uranium 233: U-233
  • Uranium enriched in the isotopes 235: EU-235
  • Uranium that contains the mixture of isotopes that occurs in nature: U-Natural
  • Uranium that is depleted in the isotope 235: U-Depleted
  • Thorium: Thorium
  • Heavy water: D2O
  • Deuterium: Deuterium
  • Tritium: H3

Commodity identifier: United Nations Dangerous Good Code (UNGD)

  • Radiation device: UNDG is mandatory
  • Nuclear substance: UNDG is mandatory
  • Controlled nuclear substance: UNDG is not required
  • Nuclear equipment: UNDG is not required

Commodity size

Quantity (1)

  • Radiation device: the total quantity of the commodity must be provided
  • Nuclear substance: the total quantity of the commodity must be provided
  • Controlled nuclear substance: the total quantity of the commodity must be provided

Quantity (2)

  • Radiation device: the activity of the source per device must be provided
  • Nuclear substance: the total activity/activity concentration per isotope of the sources must be provided
  • Controlled nuclear substance: the total mass of the controlled nuclear substance must be provided

Quantity (3) Unit of Measure

  • Radiation device: the unit count of radiation devices, per model
  • Nuclear substance: the unit count of sources, per isotope
  • Nuclear equipment: the unit count, per equipment


  • The count of packages for each retail package must be provided
  • Any regulatory–related marks present on the retail packaging must be provided if present


  • Importer/CNSC licensee (business number must belong to the licensee on the CNSC license): Name, address, and contact information must be provided
  • Exporter: Name, address, and contact information must be provided
  • Delivery destination: Name, address, and contact information must be provided
  • Authorization party: Name, address, and contact information must be provided

Document type and reference number required

  • 7000 (CNSC licence): Enter exact licence number as it appears on Section I on the CNSC Licence
  • 7001 (CNSC device certificate): Enter exact device certificate number as it appears on the CNSC device certificate

For SWI, being proactive is your best strategy—gather all your information and documentation as far in advance as possible. Importers who know the requirements for the products they’re importing, and understand the new processes under SWI, will have a much smoother import experience.

As you adjust to the new requirements and workflow of the Single Window Initiative, we're here to help. Our customs team is ready to help you understand the SWI and its new requirements for your commodities—contact us today!

Speak to our SWI Support Team

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