Planning on selling products in Canada? Whether you are selling food products or not, there are specific labelling requirements in Canada you must be aware of. They govern the information that is on the package, and also the language it is communicated in.
We’ve provided a quick rundown of the top things you need to know, extracted from the Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act (managed by the Competition Bureau), the Guide to Food Labelling and Advertising (managed by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency), and the Charter of the French Language or Law 101 (managed by the Office de la langue française). Please refer to these official resources for more in-depth information.
Here are the key points you need to know:
1) Mandatory Information
There are certain non-negotiable items for packaging and they depend on whether or not the product is food-related or not.
For food products, you must include:
- Common name
- Net quantity declaration
- Dealer name and address
- List of ingredients (including food allergens)
- Nutrition Facts table
- Durable life date
For non-food products (i.e., cosmetics, appliances, cleaning products, etc.), you must include:
- Product Identity
- Product Net Quantity
- Dealer’s Name and Principal Place of Business
2) Bilingual Requirements
All of the mandatory information detailed above must be in both of Canada’s official languages: English & French. Also, be aware that:
- Numbers are considered bilingual
- Measurements must use the metric system
- In Canada, Canadian French is used, not European French. There are very important differences in vocabulary, punctuation, grammar and more, so make sure you are using a professional translator with expertise in this area.
But, be aware there are a few exceptions where you do not need bilingual labelling:
- The identity and principal place of business can be in either English or French
- Shipping containers that are not sold to consumers
- Local products (sold in a local area in which English or French is the mother tongue for less than 10% of the residents)
- Official test market products (temporary exemption)
- Specialty foods
- Products in which knowledge of the language is essential to its use (for example: books or greeting cards) can appear in the appropriate language (Non-food products only)
- Information outside of the must-haves (for example: slogans or directions) do not have to be bilingual. That being said, it is strongly encouraged to include bilingual translations for this information as well.
It’s important to recognize that French typically takes up at least 10% more space than English text, so considering these requirements early on in your packaging design process is recommended.
3) Additional French Language Requirements for Products Sold in Québec
If you plan to sell your products in Québec, there are additional French language requirements. View details of the Quebec regulations, including exemptions. Again, when designing packaging it is a good idea to consider the design impacts from this additional text early on.
- Every “inscription” on a product, its packaging, container, leaflet, brochure, or card supplied must be in French.
- If there are multiple languages on a product label, French must have “greater prominence” than the other languages.
- Toys or games that require the use of non-French vocabulary for their use are forbidden unless there is an equivalent French product available on the Quebec market (Charter of the French Language, Section 54).
Ready to get started with Canadian Labelling? Download our free resource that covers off these guidelines and more, including helpful diagrams. Also, don’t forget when launching products in Canada, you need to use Canadian French, not European French. We’re here to provide any advice you need.