Recently, there has been increased activity from Health Canada and the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) in relation to cosmetics being imported into Canada. The CBSA has authority under the Customs Act to detain goods that are suspected to contravene Health Canada legislation. If Health Canada is alerted by the CBSA of an import that does not meet regulations, they may request that the CBSA further detains or rejects the products. Health Canada inspectors have the authority to open, test, seize, or sample any goods detained by the CBSA.
After seizure, Health Canada will determine whether the goods are admissible into Canada. If the products are found to contravene any respective legislation, the importer will be subject to penalties. Failing to comply with the Food & Drugs Act, Cosmetic Regulations, or the Customs Act may result in penalties ranging from administrative, to fines, to imprisonment.
For cosmetic products, these contraventions are often claims on the product packaging or the company’s website that refer to changing the structure or function of the skin, or are therapeutic in nature. They can also be in the form of “hotlist” ingredients with specific restrictions that make the ingredient or product not permissible in Canada, or improperly labeled products. All cosmetic products imported to Canada must comply with the Food & Drugs Act as well as the Cosmetic Regulations. Incorrectly labelled cosmetics pose a risk to consumer safety through unclear documentation of ingredients, improper application information and directions for use, misleading claims, and incorrect or missing manufacturer contact information. Labelling regulations in Canada also include minimum font sizes, standardised placement of information, and bilingual requirements.
The easiest way to ensure that the importation of your cosmetics goes smoothly is to have your products and their labels checked for compliance by a reputable regulatory affairs and quality assurance consultant. Focal Point Research Inc. has over 25 years of experience in assessing products for both Canadian and U.S. compliance. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions regarding North American cosmetics imports. We are industry leading Cosmetic Regulatory Consultants that you can trust to help guide your company in the right direction.