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Single Window Initiative (SWI): Survival guide for Health Canada (HC) Natural Health Products

The new SWI landscape

The Single Window Initiative means several changes for importers:

  • how you need to submit documentation is in flux;SWI_Series_01_2019-2
  • when that documentation is needed has changed; and
  • which documentation is required is also shifting.

Our 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.

Health Canada (HC) Natural Health ProductsSWI_Natural Health Products_Computer_Series

The SWI data elements required for release include:

Intended end use: Health Canada (HC) Natural Health Products intended end-use must be provided. Depending on the end use, additional details and documents may be required.

  • Human therapeutic use
  • Special access
  • Human clinical trial use
  • Research & development
  • Other

Canadian product category: a Canadian product category for natural health products must be indicated.

Natural health products with an end use of:

  • Human Therapeutic Use

Requires this documentation:

  • Site license, and either
  • A natural product authorization, or
  • A homeopathic medicine drug identification

Natural health products with an end use of:

  • Human clinical trial use

Requires this documentation:

  • Natural product authorization notice of authorization

 Natural health products with an end use of:

  • Special access

Requires this documentation:

  • Letter of authorization

 Natural health products with an end use of:

  •  Research & development
  • Other

Requires no documentation.

Document reference: although a copy of the documents are not mandatory at the time of release, it is strongly suggested to provide an image.

Document type:Natural Organic Medicine_114849837_s

  • Site license​​: site license number required
  • Natural product authorization: natural product number required
  • Homeopathic medicine drug identification: homeopathic medicine drug identification number
  • Natural health product notice of authorization: notice of authorization number
  • Letter of authorization (LOA): LOA number

Brand name: the brand name of the commodity must be provided.

Although the below elements are not mandatory for the release of the commodity, they may be asked for and should be supplied.

  • Manufacture date: the manufacture date may be required
  • Batch/lot number: the batch and lot number may be required.
  • GTIN number: Global trade identification number. Natural health products can be identified through their GTIN GS1 Asset Identifier or UDI Number. GTIN number is not required to be submitted, but will give CBSA a clearer identification of the product.

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

SWI. It's what we do.

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