Domestic and international cargo in Canada’s coasting trade

In 2017, the rules for foreign vessels providing feeder services, specifically the transportation of domestic and international cargo, changed under the Coasting Trade Act (CTA). This took effect when the Canada-European Union (EU) Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) entered into force.

Amendments explained

For combination cargo destined for both the domestic and international market, a coasting trade licence is required for the domestic component of the activity undertaken by the vessel.

Specifically:

  • A situation may arise whereby a qualifying entity and vessel may wish to provide domestic services in Canada through the transportation of combination cargo that is both domestic (destined for the domestic market in Canada) and international (destined for the foreign market, for example, import or export cargo):
    • For example, a qualifying EU entity using an EU-registered vessel could carry a combination of domestic and international cargo from the Port of Montreal, Québec to the Port of Halifax, Nova Scotia, where the domestic cargo (destined for the domestic market; not part of one leg of an exportation of goods from Canada) is unloaded in Halifax and the remaining international cargo is transported to its international destination
    • In this case, the activity of moving the cargo that will remain in the domestic market from the Port of Montreal (loaded) to the Port of Halifax (unloaded) would be outside of the scope of the new provisions under CETA and would be considered cabotage
  • Another possible scenario could be that after travelling from the Port of Montreal with both international and domestic cargo, the vessel unloads its international cargo in Halifax and transports domestic cargo to another port in Canada
    • In this case, the activity of moving the cargo that will remain in the domestic market from the Port of Halifax to another port in Canada would be outside of the scope of the new provisions under CETA and would be considered cabotage

Read our list of coasting trade terminology and definitions

Contact us

Domestic Marine Policy Group
Transport Canada

Email: tc.coastingtrade-cabotage.tc@tc.gc.ca

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