About Advisory Opinions

  • Advisory opinion: Goods and Technology requiring an export permit for the purposes of export or transfer, as required under s.13 of the Export and Import Permits Act (EIPA), are included in the Export Control List (ECL), and published in A Guide to Canada's Export Controls.
  • In addition to self-assessment against the index of A Guide to Canada's Export Controls, an exporter may also choose to obtain greater certainty in regard to the control status of a particular export under the EIPA by either applying for an advisory opinion or submitting an export permit application.
  • The advisory opinion (AO) process is a tool provided by the Export Controls Division as a courtesy to assist individuals with learning to navigate the Export Control List and understanding the commodity assessment process. The AO is not a legislated requirement and does not bind the Minister's discretion under the Export and Import Permits Act or its regulations. To obtain a binding decision, an Application for Export Permit must be submitted.
  • Advisory Opinions are conducted as operational commitments permit. If you have an urgent export requirement, it is recommended that you complete and submit an application for an export permit. Further information on how to apply for an export permit is available on the Export Controls Division website.

Please ensure that your Application for an Advisory Opinion contains all of the necessary material for it to be processed. In this regard, you should refer to the following information regarding AO Limitations, AO Letter Disclaimers, AO Application Supporting Information and How to Apply for an Advisory Opinion.

AO Limitations

  • Does not provide a legally binding document and does not bind the Minister's discretion in regard to permit issuance under the Export and Import Permits Act or its regulations.
  • Does not establish whether an item is a “controlled good” under the Defence Production Act or whether an individual or company must be registered under the Controlled Goods Program administered by the Controlled Goods Directorate. {For more information on the Controlled Goods Program, please refer to the Export Controls Handbook.}
  • Does not address the requirements of other statutes or regulations, such as the United Nations Act or Special Economic Measures Act. {For more information on these statutes, please refer to the Export Controls Handbook.}
  • Does not address the likelihood of receiving an export permit.
  • Does not address issues that may be raised by virtue of particular destinations or particular consignees. {For more information on the export process, please refer to the Export Controls Handbook.}
  • Are not conducted on generic descriptions, catalogues of items, company inventories, hypothetical situations, country destinations, interpretations of control text, etc.
  • Are restricted to uniquely identifiable items (e.g., unique engineering / shipping configuration control nomenclature {product name, product number, part number, configuration / revision designation, etc.}).

AO Letter Disclaimers

  • Legal: This letter is provided as general advice based on the data submitted. The process involved in the provision of an AO is of a distinct nature from that involved in the assessment of an export permit application: it does not entail any degree of data verification or internal government consultation, such as would normally occur during the export permit application assessment process. Consequently, AOs contain no reference to, nor are they indicative of, the prospects of the Minister subsequently issuing an export permit for the item(s). Furthermore, this letter does not bind the Minister's discretion under the Export and Import Permits Act or its related regulations. Where an export permit application is subsequently submitted, the Minister may nonetheless issue or refuse to issue a permit, or return the export permit application with an indication that a permit is not required. If you require a binding decision, you must submit an export permit application for processing by Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada.
  • Controlled Goods Program (CGP): You should be aware that although the AO process may include a technical assessment of a uniquely identifiable commodity against the Export Control List for export in accordance with the Export and Import Permits Act, it does not indicate whether the item is a “controlled good” under the Defence Production Act nor whether registration with the Controlled Goods Directorate (CGD) is required. Information on the CGP, the schedule of “controlled goods” under the Defence Production Act, and clarification of the terms 'examine', 'possess' and 'transfer' may be found on the Public Works and Government Services – Controlled Goods Directorate website.
  • Economic Sanctions: You should be aware that other legislated authorizations may be required for exports to particular destinations subject to Canadian economic sanctions, as provided for under the United Nations Act or Special Economic Measures Act. Information related to these sanctions can be obtained from the Canadian Economic Sanctions web page, or by contacting the United Nations, Human Rights, and Economic Law Division (JLH) of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada.
  • ECL Item 5505 - Goods for Certain Uses (“Catch All”): You should be aware that ECL item 5505 controls the export of goods not controlled elsewhere on the ECL to certain countries of concern, when the goods are intended for certain uses or end-users. For more information on ECL item 5505, please read our Notice to Exporters, Serial Number 176.
  • Other Government Departments: As an exporter you should be aware that other Government Departments / Agencies may require additional export authorisations related to your export. You should contact your internal export compliance office, or your legal counsel to confirm whether any additional authorisations are required.
  • Post-AO Modifications: Notwithstanding the foregoing, any modifications subsequently made to the uniquely identified commodities assessed under an AO application for any reason would require a re-evaluation of the control status of the item under the ECL.
  • Export Control List Changes: The technical assessment provided under the Advisory Opinion is based on the Export Control List that is inforce at the time of the assessment. Amendments to the Export Control List are published in the Canada Gazette. It is the individual's responsibility to conduct the due diligence required to confirm whether any intervening changes may have affected the control status of their particular good or technology to be exported or transferred.

AO Applications - Supporting Information

In order to assist the Export Controls Division in properly assessing the control status of the identifiable commodity for which you require advice, it is highly recommended that you refer to the following list to guide you in the information which you should include with your AO request, as applicable, in order to receive the most accurate advice possible:

  • Identify the specific variant for which you are requesting a technical assessment and provide the unique engineering / shipping configuration control nomenclature that uniquely identifies the specific item (product name, product number, part number, configuration / revision designation, etc.).
  • Provide technical information sufficient to fully describe the technical characteristics / capabilities of the item. This may take the form of product descriptions, marketing brochures, technical specification sheets, etc.
  • Is the item part of a larger assembly or end-item? What is the larger assembly? What is the ultimate end-item? Provide details. In many instances an exploded view drawing from a maintenance manual or parts manual highlighting the item under assessment in relation to the larger assembly and ultimate end-item can be extremely useful.
  • Was the larger assembly or ultimate end-item specially designed or modified for military, nuclear, or space use? Provide details.
  • What was the item under assessment originally designed for?
  • Was the item under assessment specially designed or modified for military, nuclear, or space use? Provide details.
  • Is the item a commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) catalogue part? If it is a COTS catalogue part, provide details including the catalogue front cover, applicable pages (highlighting the specific item) and part number reference material (including appropriate prefix and suffix references) cross referenced to the specific part for assessment.
  • Are there different variants of the item? Are any of the variants for military, nuclear or space use? If so, how do the commercial and other variants differ (eg: functionality, mechanical, environmental, marking identification, etc.)? Provide details.
  • Has the item been modified in any way (hardware or software) to meet a specific end-use or end-user’s requirements? Describe the modifications.
  • Does the item contain any United States origin items controlled under the US Munitions List of the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR)? Provide details. (Note: Your US suppliers can provide this information).
  • Where was the item originally manufactured?
  • If the item was originally manufactured in the US:
    • Under what export authority (e.g.: Department of Commerce (DoC) Export Control Classification Number (ECCN), Department of State (DoS) licence, etc.) was the item exported to Canada? Provide details (e.g.: DoC Commodity Classification Automated Tracking System (CCATS) ruling with ECCN, DoS licence, etc.) from the original manufacturer.
    • Has the item been further processed or manufactured outside the US so as to result in a substantial change in value, former use of the items or in the production of new items? Provide details.
  • If the item was originally manufactured in the European Union (EU) or has been imported from the EU, under what EU export authority was the item exported (e.g.: EU licence with the applicable EU Control List commodity code). Provide details.
  • Have you previously received a technical assessment of the item or similar items by means of an Advisory Opinion, Export Permit, Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) Detention, or other Canadian government ruling? Provide details.
  • If you have reviewed the Export Control List and believe you know the section(s) which may apply, provide a compliance spreadsheet / matrix of the item's technical capabilities / characteristics against each of the technical criteria delineated in the ECL item(s) you believe are applicable.

How to apply for Advisory Opinions

Having reviewed the AO Limitations, AO Letter Disclaimers, and AO Application Supporting Information sections, an AO request may be submitted through our online EXCOL system, or directly at the EXCOL website. Once online, choose "Apply for… Advisory Opinion" on the left-hand menu bar. Please ensure that your submission includes as many AO Application Supporting Information elements as possible.