Interpretation Policy

An interpretation policy is an overarching document that outlines the commitments, practices and tools to be applied by a department or agency when providing Canadians and businesses with information and guidance on regulatory obligations to be met. It also identifies the conditions under which written responses to questions will be provided.

Departmental Context

Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada (DFATD) is responsible for managing Canada's diplomatic and consular relations, encouraging the country's international trade and leading Canada’s international development and humanitarian assistance.  The majority of DFATD’s ongoing engagement and consultation with Canadian businesses during the regulatory development process is focused on the international trade aspects of the Department’s activities. While consultation with Canadian businesses is a priority for DFATD, many of the Department’s regulations are carved-out from Red Tape Reduction Action Plan requirements such as the One-for-One Rule on a case-by-case basis as they are based on non-discretionary international obligations and a commitment to ensuring the safety and security of all Canadians.


Plain language commitment

DFATD’s Trade Agreements and Negotiations Branch Units responsible for Export and Import Controls strive to ensure regulations and policies are drafted in plain language, with the exception of technical terminology which is incorporated directly from international commitments.

Providing Guidance and Building Awareness

DFATD’s Export and Import Controls Units create and post on their website: Notices to Importers and Exporters related to various regulations, policies, programs and processes; frequent updates related to regulatory changes; and various publications and reports, as part of their mechanisms for consistent internal and external communication of compliance requirements. 

More information on these mechanisms can be found in the Export and Import Controls section.

Responding to Questions

 Written responses to questions will be provided to stakeholders and non-governmental organizations upon request.


Service commitment

DFATD’s Export and Import Controls Units’ service commitment is to update the Export Control List on an annual basis (by December 31st of each year) and to publish Notices to Importers and Exporters in accordance with WTO requirements, allowing sufficient time for companies to complete the relevant applications.

Service Accountability

While complaints regarding regulations are rare, DFATD’s Export and Import Controls Units have in place mechanisms to track complaints/issues and address problems in an expeditious manner. The subject-matter expert in the responsible section that is best suited to address the issue is identified and tasked with ensuring that the responsible unit in the Branch correctly understands the issue in the complaint and the stakeholders’ concerns. A process to investigate and address the complaint is identified and implemented. The results of the process are evaluated and action, if necessary, is taken to address the issue.  Results are communicated to the complainant.

Staff training (how to interpret specific regulations and deliver quality professional services)

DFATD’s Export and Import Controls Units’ officers are involved in the negotiation of international agreements and in the drafting and administration of the relevant regulations. Efforts are taken to ensure that the officer responsible for a file possesses the necessary expertise in the subject matter and that a competent replacement is available in the event of an officer’s absence.

Stakeholder Engagement

Commitment to stakeholder engagement

DFATD’s Export and Import Controls Units are committed to routinely engaging industry associations with respect to upcoming regulations and the development of policies.

Stakeholder Engagement Mechanisms

DFATD’s Export and Import Controls Units remain available to engage with stakeholders upon request, via dedicated service representatives either in person, by phone, by email or by fax, or through online consultation mechanisms. Mechanisms to engage stakeholders in the development and review of regulatory information and guidance include online consultations, pre-publication of regulations, round table discussions with interested parties, and informal consultations with stakeholders, both face-to-face and by phone.


Year One - Consult stakeholders to identify priority areas for improving regulatory service delivery

DFATD’s Export and Import Controls Units will endeavour to engage in discussions with industry associations and stakeholders to identify areas of improvement, if any exist.

End of Year One - Post priorities for improvement (informed by stakeholders’ input) and relevant performance information on the Departmental website

 Following discussions with industry associations and stakeholders undertaken in Year One on areas of improvement, and if any have been identified, DFATD’s Export and Import Controls Units will endeavour to post priorities for improvement and related performance information when appropriate.

Years Two and Three - Implement mechanisms for improvement and continue to monitor performance

During Years Two and Three, DFATD’s Export and Import Controls Units will endeavour to implement mechanisms for improvement, if required, and will continue to monitor its performance. 

End of Year Three – Report on Improvements

At the end of Year Three, DFATD’s Export and Import Controls Units will endeavour to report on improvements made, if any were identified, in relation to the information gathered at the end of Year One, and implemented in Years Two and Three.