Canadian International Merchandise Trade Web Application

General concepts

Customs-basis data versus balance-of-payments basis data

Merchandise trade statistics are produced on both a customs basis (raw and seasonally adjusted) and a balance of payment basis (seasonally adjusted).

Customs-based trade data are derived from the administrative records of the Canada Border Services Agency and the United States Customs Border Protection. Balance of payments trade statistics adjust customs-based information to conform to the concepts and definitions of the System of National Accounts.

The principal difference between the two trade concepts is that customs-based merchandise trade statistics cover the physical movement of goods, while balance-of-payments-adjusted data are intended to cover all economic transactions between residents and non-residents that involve merchandise trade.

Canada's merchandise export and import data are inputs into the System of National Accounts, particularly related to balance of payments and gross domestic product, and are used in the formation of trade and budgetary policies.

Data in the CIMT database are produced on a customs basis.

Free on board

The value of goods measured on a free on board (FOB) basis includes all production and other costs incurred up until the moment that goods are placed on board an international carrier for export. FOB values exclude international insurance and transport costs.

Non-merchandise trade

Goods that cross the customs frontier, but do not alter Canada's stock of material resources.


The quantity associated with a commodity is determined based on the unit of measure used to declare the goods. Units of measure are alphabetic abbreviations represented by three characters, which were developed by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). The number of units refers to complete (or substantially complete) units exported or imported, excluding parts. Weight and volume measures generally exclude packaging used for shipment.

Cubic metre
Dozen pairs
Kilogram air dry
Kilogram named substance
Litres of pure alcohol
Megawatt hour
Metric tonne
Metric tonne air dry
Square centimetre
Square metre
1000 cubic metre

Unit of measure

The metric unit of measure used to indicate the quantity of goods imported or exported.

Export concepts

Country of final destination

Export statistics are attributed to the country that is the last known destination of the goods at the time of export. Exports to the United States are attributed to the state of destination.

Domestic exports

Include goods grown, produced, extracted or manufactured in Canada, including goods of foreign origin that have been materially transformed in Canada.


Produced or manufactured Canadian goods that are subtracted from the stock of material resources in Canada, as a result of their movement out of the country.

Export valuation

Export data to all countries are measured in Canadian dollars.

Exports to countries other than the United States are recorded at the values declared on export documents. These values usually reflect an item’s transaction value, i.e., the actual selling price used for company accounting purposes. Canadian exports to overseas countries are valued at FOB, port of exit, including domestic freight charges to that point but excluding discounts and allowances.

Data on exports to the United States are collected by the United States as import data from Canada, converted to Canadian dollars using an average monthly rate provided by the Bank of Canada, and sent to Canada for dissemination as Canadian exports.

Province of origin

Province (or territory) where the goods are grown, extracted or manufactured. This may not always be the province where the goods were cleared at customs.

In the case of re-exports, province of origin is the one from which the goods were shipped.


Goods, materials or articles originally imported into Canada that are exported, either in the same condition in which they were imported or after some minor operations (e.g., blending, packaging, bottling, cleaning or sorting) that leave them essentially unchanged.

State of destination

Canadian exports to the United States are attributed to the state of destination.

Total exports

All goods leaving the country (through customs) for a foreign destination. Total exports are the sum of domestic exports and re-exports.

Import concepts

Country of export

The country from which the goods were exported into Canada. For U.S. goods, state of origin is used for statistical purposes. In most-but not all-cases, the country of exit is the same as the country of origin.

Country of origin

For imports and import clearances, the country of origin is the country of production or the country in which the final stage of production or manufacture occurs. For U.S. goods, state of origin is used for statistical purposes.


Goods that have entered the country by crossing territorial (customs) boundaries, whether for immediate domestic consumption (following the payment of any duty) or for storage in customs (bonded) warehouses. Duty is not paid at that time.

Re-imports are included in Canadian trade data. These are goods, materials or articles that are imported in either the same condition in which they were exported or after undergoing repair or minor alterations (e.g., blending, packaging, bottling, cleaning or sorting) that leave them essentially unchanged.

Domestic re-imports are goods of Canadian origin, whether grown, extracted, or manufactured in Canada that are exported to another country and then returned to Canada in 'the same state' as they were sent out. They are classified under HS 98.13 showing the country of origin as Canada.

Import valuation

Import data to all countries are collected in Canadian dollars.

Canadian imports are valued FOB place of direct shipment to Canada. The import valuation excludes costs of freight and insurance in bringing the goods to Canada from the point of direct shipment.

Province of clearance

The Canadian province where the goods were cleared at customs, either for immediate consumption or for entry into a bonded customs warehouse. This may not always be the province in which the goods are consumed. Given the fact that in the CIMT Web Application we are using the province of clearance instead of a province of destination this will result in overestimating the imports for some provinces and underestimate for others.

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