Coasting trade and the Canada-United Kingdom Trade Continuity Agreement (Canada-UK TCA)

Canada's interim agreement with the United Kingdom (UK), known as the Canada-UK TCA, replicates the same trade preferences the UK and Canada had under the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA).

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Canada's coasting trade under Canada-UK TCA

The Coasting Trade Act (CTA) sets out the laws governing the use of foreign vessels and non-duty paid vessels in Canada's coasting trade. Coasting trade, or cabotage, refers to any marine activity of a commercial nature within Canadian waters and above the continental shelf as defined in the Coasting Trade Act, section 2(1).

Under the Canada-UKTCA, the CTA applies to British entities using foreign vessels and the services they provide, and UK owners of eligible vessels can offer a limited number of coasting trade services without a licence. To qualify, UK owners of eligible vessels must complete an advance notification form and demonstrate that they meet new requirements in the CTA.

With the Canada-UK TCA, Canada agreed that 2 categories of British entities may provide a limited number of Cabotage services in Canada without a coasting trade licence:

  1. Entities incorporated in the UK
  2. Entities located outside the UK if they are owned or controlled by nationals of the UK or Canada, and meet the following criteria:
    • must always use vessels on the UK's registry
    • must not be located in the United States
  • Entities include (but are not limited to) non-profit, private and government-owned corporations, trusts, partnerships, sole proprietorships and joint ventures.

Coasting trade services that can be provided by foreign vessels under Canada-UK TCA

Under the Canada-UK TCA, eligible British entities can provide the following coasting trade services without a licence:

Feeder services between the Ports of Halifax and Montreal

  • Continuous services – for international cargo onboard vessels that are registered on the first (national) registry of the UK
    • For example, a qualifying UK-registered vessel could provide a weekly scheduled service between the Ports of Halifax and Montreal to move international cargo
  • Single voyage – solely for international containerized cargo onboard vessels that are registered on first or second (international) registry of the UK or the Gibraltar registry
    • For example, a qualifying UK-registered or Gibraltar-registered vessel on an international voyage could load full containers in Montreal, that are part of one leg of an exportation of goods from Canada, and drop them off in Halifax on its way overseas

Read our guidance documents on:

Dredging services

  • Canadian companies will have the flexibility to hire dredging services from British entities
  • British entities located in the UK may use vessels of any registry
  • British entities located outside the UK, that are owned or controlled by nationals of the UK or Canada, must use UK -registered vessels

There are no changes in procurement practices below the government procurement threshold of $5 million Special Drawing Rights (SDR) for dredging services and/or dredging services included in construction services. Only Canadian registered and manufactured vessels or vessels that have been substantially modified in Canada, resulting in a predominantly Canadian added-on value and pre-qualified, may provide federally procured dredging services.

A coasting trade licence will continue to be required for federally procured dredging services with a contract equal to or greater value than $5 million Special Drawing Rights when using foreign and Canadian non-duty paid vessels.

A vessel not built in Canada must obtain a certificate of qualification from the federal government to be certified. Vessels must meet the following criteria:

  • substantially modified in Canada to the point it has predominantly Canadian equipment (including add-on value)
  • registered in Canada
  • Canadian-owned for at least 1 year

The Canada-UK TCA applies to procurement practices at or above the government procurement threshold for construction services currently valued at $5 million in Special Drawing Rights, including the coasting trade licence requirements for dredging services and dredging services incidental to construction services.


The vessel used for federally procured dredging services at or above the government procurement threshold must be:

  • registered in Canada, or
  • registered in the UK and granted a temporary licence under the Coasting Trade Act
    • The granting of this temporary licence will not be subject to the condition that no suitable Canadian duty or non-duty paid vessel be available

It must also be:

  • of Canadian or UK make or manufacture, or
  • predominantly modified in Canada or the UK and owned by a person located in Canada or the UK for at least a year before the bidder submitted the tender
    • For non-Canadian or UK make or manufactured equipment, the applicant must obtain a certificate of qualification from Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada to be pre-qualified

Canada will ensure that the federal government policy, which governs how it procures dredging services or dredging services included in construction services contracts, is in line with the Canada-UK TCA negotiated outcome.

Read our guidance document on:

Other requirements for foreign vessels

Eligible British entities must take measures to meet any applicable requirements before using a foreign vessel to provide coasting trade services without a licence in Canada:

Advance notification: Transport Canada

British entities are required to complete an advance notification form before providing cabotage services (feeder services, dredging services) without a coasting trade licence:

Advance notification: Canada Border Services Agency

The Advance Commercial Information program requires marine carriers to electronically transmit the marine Cargo Report and Supplementary Cargo Report (if applicable) to the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) 24 hours before loading the cargo at a foreign port (not including the United States).

  • Marine carriers transporting goods into Canada must transmit marine cargo and conveyance data to the CBSA within prescribed time frames prior to arrival or prior to loading (depending on the type and origin of goods).

Refer to Memorandum D3-5-1, Marine Pre-load/Pre-arrival and Reporting Requirements to verify the specific timeframes.

Vessel duties and taxes

Goods imported into Canada are subject to applicable customs duties. Rates are set out in Canada's Customs Tariff. For vessels temporarily imported to provide services permitted under CETA, duty reductions are calculated according to the Vessel Duties Reduction or Removal Regulations.

Contact the Border Information Service with questions about applicable duties and taxes:

Telephone (in Canada): 1-800-461-9999
TTY (in Canada): 1-866-335-3237
Telephone (outside Canada): 204-983-3500 or 506-636-5064 (long distance charges will apply)

Agents are available Monday to Friday (8 am to 4 pm local time), except during holidays.

Marine safety and pollution prevention regulations

The Canada-UK TCA does not affect any law of Canada that imposes safety and pollution prevention requirements on foreign vessels. Contact the Transport Canada marine transportation office in your region for more information.

Foreign workers: assessments and work permits

Canada regulates the use of temporary foreign workers. For immigration purposes, most foreign nationals entering Canada on a vessel who are deemed to be working in Canada need a:

Pension and employment insurance requirements

The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) manages coverage and contribution provisions under the Employment Insurance Act (EIA) and Canada Pension Plan Regulations (CPP).

These two social programs are designed to protect Canadians and offer them benefits under certain circumstances. The general principle is that an employment in Canada is insurable and pensionable unless that employment is excluded under certain circumstances.

In the case of a foreign employer and/or foreign employee, CRA needs to assess the facts on a case-by-case basis and determine if an employment is subject to the EIA or the CPP.

Employment insurance

The employment of a person who resides in a country other than Canada is not insurable if premiums regarding the employment are payable in the other country in accordance with Employment Insurance Regulations, paragraph 7d. Therefore, employment of foreign workers who work on vessels undertaking activities under CETA will not be subject to EI premiums if they contribute to a similar plan in the other country.

Canada Pension Plan

The employment of a person with an employer who does not reside in Canada and who has no establishment in Canada is not pensionable and is not subject to CPP contributions, as defined in the Canada Pension Plan Regulations, subsection 22.1. Therefore, the employment of foreign workers who work on these vessels will not be subject to CPP contributions as long as the employer does not reside in Canada and has no establishment in Canada.

If the employer has an establishment in Canada, the employment will be pensionable unless the employment is subject to a social plan/regime from another country under a Social Security Agreement.

If the employer has an establishment in the province of Quebec, refer to the Quebec Pension Plan (QPP).

An employer or an employee can request a ruling regarding the status of a worker under the CPP and the EIA. To request a ruling, complete the Request a CPP or EI ruling (Form CPT1) and send it to your local tax service office

Contact us

Domestic Marine Policy Group
Transport Canada


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