Permits and Certificates

Canadian sanctions regulations generally include mechanisms for the Minister of Foreign Affairs to issue permits or certificates to authorize specified activities or transactions that are otherwise prohibited. This authority is found in the related Permit Authorization Order or in the relevant Act itself.

Permits: Permits can be granted on an exceptional basis in respect of activities that are prohibited under the Special Economic Measures Act, and the Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act.

Certificates: The types of certificates that may be applied for are set out in the relevant regulations or Acts. They may also be issued by the Minister of Foreign Affairs in respect of certain other situations; for example, in the case of mistaken identity.

Wondering whether you need a permit or certificate? Consulting a lawyer or other expert before you apply will help you decide.

Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada (DFATD) does not provide legal advice and cannot tell you if your particular situation requires a permit or certificate. Do not apply for a permit or certificate without first verifying that your proposed transaction is prohibited by a sanctions regulation.

How to Apply

Once you have confirmed that you need a permit or certificate, you will need to provide DFATD with a detailed description of your proposed activity or transaction; explain how the activity or transaction would violate the relevant regulation, or how your request otherwise meets the criteria for application; and, where possible, indicate which section of the regulation or which permit authorization order is being relied on to support your application.

In addition, you will be asked to provide some or all of the following information:

  • your name, address, email and telephone number, or if the applicant is an entity, the applicant's name and address and the name of a contact person;
  • a full description of the specific goods to be imported or exported, if any, including such details as their quantity, origin, value and intended end-use;
  • copies of any documents related to the proposed transaction, including purchase orders, invoices, contracts, customs and shipping documents, as well as bills of sale and deeds, if applicable;
  • identifying information (name, address) for every person or entity involved, including financial institutions, brokers, consignees, and any other entity involved in the contractual arrangement;
  • if applicable, proof of immigration application status, residence, and visas for persons involved; and
  • a detailed explanation of the reasons for the transaction and the anticipated effects on you or your company if a permit or certificate is not granted.

Please note that any information you provide in your application, including personal information, may be communicated to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and other agencies or departments of the Government of Canada if it is necessary to do so in order to establish if a permit or certificate can be issued.

Processing Times

Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada generally cannot estimate how long a permit or certificate will take to process. In most cases, the granting of a permit or certificate is an exceptional act and applicants should not rely on the granting of a permit or certificate.

Contact Information

To apply for a permit or certificate under the regulations, the information described above, as well as other supporting documentation, can be sent to the Economic Law Section at the following address:

Global Affairs Canada
Economic Law Section (JLHB)
125 Sussex Drive
Ottawa, Ontario
Canada K1A 0G2
Fax: 613-992-2467

Note on Export and Import Permits

The application process for sanctions permits and certificates is separate from the permit process under the Export and Import Permits Act, which is related to the Export Control List, the Import Control List, and the Area Control List. For further information, please refer to the web site of the Trade Controls & Technical Barriers Bureau.