Canada to Update Its Export and Technology Transfer Controls

The Canadian government has announced that it will be making significant changes to its export and technology transfer controls to bring them into line with its international obligations. The changes to Canada’s Export Control List include additions, modifications and removals of a range of goods, services and technology that are set to come into force on December 5, 2014. Canadian companies engaged in cross-border activities should be carefully reviewing their trade control procedures governing the transfer of goods, technology, software and services to ensure that they are consistent with these latest changes.


Canada strictly controls the transfer of goods, technology, software and services identified on its Export Control List and in the Guide to Canada’s Export Controls – December 2012. The items are categorized into seven groups:

  • Group 1 (dual-use, including encryption, sensors, computers, sensitive materials)
  • Group 2 (military)
  • Group 3 (nuclear)
  • Group 4 (nuclear dual-use)
  • Group 5 (miscellaneous, including all U.S.-origin items and any items intended for restricted end uses)
  • Group 6 (missile and navigation)
  • Group 7 (chemical and biological weapons)

Canada has implemented many of these controls in accordance with its obligations under international agreements and regimes, including the Wassenaar Arrangement on Export Controls for Conventional Arms and Dual-Use Goods and Technologies, the Nuclear Suppliers Group, the Missile Technology Control Regime and the Australia Group.

Before a company transfers any of these goods or technology from Canada, a permit must be applied for and obtained from the Export Controls Division of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada. Significantly, transfers that are subject to control include not only export shipments but also all forms of technology transfer, including through the delivery of services, server uploads and downloads, email, texting, and online and telephone meetings and discussions.

Changes to the Export and Technology Transfer Control Regime

Canada is seeking to update its export and technology transfer control regime in accordance with its international commitments up to December 2013. As part of these changes, the Guide to Canada’s Export Controls – December 2012 will be replaced with a December 2013 version (effective December 5, 2014). The Order Amending the Export Control List was published in the November 5, 2014, Canada Gazette Part II, found here. The Export Controls Division has published a list of the specific changes to the guide, found here.

New goods and technology have been added to all groups subject to these controls, with the exception of Group 5. These additions include, among many others, intrusion software and related technology and systems; IP network communication surveillance systems; gravity gradiometers; and certain explosive substances and equipment.

Clarifications to and removals from the Export Control Listhave also been made across all groups other than Group 5.

Members of McCarthy Tétrault’s International Trade and Investment Law Group have significant expertise in dealing with compliance and enforcement measures arising with respect to Canada’s export and technology transfer regime as well as other trade controls, including anti-corruption laws and policies, economic sanctions laws and industrial security regimes.