Trade by Importer Characteristics - Goods (TIC)

Detailed information for 2018





Record number:


To provide aggregate statistical information on the characteristics of Canada's importers of goods in terms of value of imports, number of importers, employment size, number of partner countries, country of origin, country of export, and other relevant dimensions at the national and provincial level.

Data release - May 14, 2019 (Goods); September 18, 2019 (Goods, by census metropolitan area)


The objective of this statistical program is to provide aggregate statistical information on characteristics of Canadian businesses who import from countries outside of Canada. To be coherent with other national statistical agencies, as well as to meet Canada's statistical obligations to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the enterprise is the main statistical unit.

Supplementary information using the establishment as a statistical unit is also available. These data can be used by policymakers to negotiate and monitor trade agreements.

In order to differentiate this program from the previous vintage importer program, which was known as the Profile of Canadian Importers, this new program is called Trade by Importer Characteristics (TIC) - Goods. Furthermore, this product was developed to complement the Trade by Exporter Characteristics (TEC) program (record number 5124). Both programs use concepts and methodologies that are consistent, coherent and in line with recommended international practices.

TIC-Goods is disseminated at the enterprise and establishment level. Characteristics available at the enterprise level include value of imports and number of importing enterprises by enterprise employment size, number of partner countries, country of origin, country of export, concentration of imports, size of imports, and industry according to the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS). At the establishment level, variables such as value of imports, number of importing establishments, industry according to NAICS, related parties, establishment employment size, number of partner countries, country of origin and country of export are available by province and territories.

TIC-goods data disseminated at the provincial level is conceptually different from customs-based merchandise import data. Provincial data for TIC-goods is based on the province where the importer is located, and goods declared by this importer can be shipped to other provinces for final consumption. On the contrary, customs-based merchandise imports are based on the province of clearance; this is the province where the goods are cleared at customs, but this may not always be the province in which the importer is located.

The following variables are additional key concepts to the TIC program and should be noted. They are aligned with the Canadian International Merchandise Trade and Canada Boarder Services Agency definitions:

- Country of origin: the country of production or the country in which the final stage of production or manufacture occurs

- Country of export: the country from which the goods were exported into Canada

- Domestic re-imports: 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.

- Related-parties: a party who holds or controls five percent or more of the outstanding voting stock or shares of the other party it is transacting with

By identifying individual importers captured by merchandise trade data within the Statistics Canada Business Register (BR), the information contained in the import records can be linked to the information available for the statistical unit (enterprise or establishment) in the BR, namely business characteristics such as industry of the importing enterprise or establishment (according to the NAICS). In addition, linkage to the Survey of Employment, Payrolls and Hours (SEPH) provides information on enterprise employment size. Together this collection of information provides a profile of Canadian businesses engaged in imports of goods.

Statistics Canada's Business Register (BR) is a central repository of information on businesses operating in Canada. It is used as the principal frame for many of Statistics Canada's economic statistical programs. The Business Register provides consistent and standardized data at the enterprise and establishment levels for each year under consideration.

The standardized business classification model developed at Statistics Canada comprises a four- level hierarchy of statistical entities:

- Enterprise: the top of the hierarchy, which is associated with a complete (consolidated) set of financial statements;

- Company: the level at which operating profit can be measured;

- Establishment: the level at which the accounting data required to measure production are available (principal inputs, revenues, wages, etc.); and,

- Location: the bottom of the hierarchy, which requires only the number of employees for delineation.

The method used in compiling the TIC - Goods program was to identify importers, the declaring unit, and to link their associated information to the business entities available in the Business Register, the establishment responsible for importing the goods either for domestic production or final consumption. Thus, the primary statistical unit where linkage takes place in the TIC - Goods program is the establishment, which is then aggregated to the enterprise level as the main statistical unit for this program.

A statistical enterprise is defined as the organizational unit of a business that directs and controls the allocation of resources relating to its domestic operations, and for which consolidated financial and balance sheet accounts can be derived. The statistical establishment is the smallest entity within an enterprise at which the accounting data required to measure production is available (principal inputs, revenues, salaries, employment and wages). The industry of an establishment may not be the same as the industry of the enterprise to which it belongs; however, it better reflects the primary activity of a business entity.

When data is disseminated at the enterprise level, if there are various importing establishments that all report to one enterprise, information on the province and the industry (NAICS) will all relate to that enterprise (and not the individual establishments). This makes the statistical enterprise most applicable for national level analysis. Many importers have one associated enterprise which is the entirety of the firm in the BR. This single enterprise is the counted enterprise in these cases. If there are various importing enterprises within one complex business structure, each importing enterprise is counted separately.

Tables 12100071,12100105 to 12100111 are based on enterprise level information, and tables 12100112 to 12100115 present the information at the establishment level. Others tables by census metropolitan area based on establishment level are available at 1210013101 and 1210013901.

Reference period: January 2010 to December 2018

Collection period: Two months following the reference period


  • International trade
  • Merchandise imports
  • Trade patterns

Data sources and methodology

Target population

The target population for the Trade by Importer Characteristics - Goods is all businesses importing merchandise as identified from importer information (declaring units) provided on Customs import documentation (B3) from the Canada Border Services Agency.

Instrument design

This methodology type does not apply to this statistical program.


This survey is a census with a longitudinal design.

Data are collected for all units of the target population, therefore no sampling is done.

Data sources

Data collection for this reference period: 2010-01-01 to 2018-12-30

Responding to this survey is mandatory.

Data are extracted from administrative files.

Data for Canadian imports from countries outside Canada are compiled by Statistics Canada from B3 forms received via the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA).

The Generic Statistical Universe File (GSUF), which is the term for an individual vintage of the Business Register (BR, record number 1105), is an integral data source, as importers (referred to as declaring units) are linked to enterprises and establishments from this universe in order to produce the TIC-Goods data set. A list of operating entity numbers along with other business characteristic variables formed the reference year GSUF extraction. The importer identification for individual importers is then linked, through a series of steps, to the BR entity, allowing the importer to have a statistical equivalent, the importing enterprise and establishment.

CBSA permits a non-resident company, located outside Canada (and who usually does not have a place of residence in Canada), to exports goods to Canada and to act as an importer of record of those goods into Canada. In such cases, a name match between the non-resident importer and Canadian businesses on BR will be performed. If an affiliated party in Canada can be found, the corresponding import value will be credited to the head quarter of this Canadian business. If no affiliated party can be found, most transactions will become unlinked except for certain large transactions. An imputation will be made to a Canadian business based on its revenue size, the industry that is most likely to consume the product, and the close proximity to where the non-resident is located (e.g. from eastern U.S.A to eastern Canada).

The number of employees used in the TIC-Goods data set primarily comes from the Survey of Employment, Payroll and Hours (SEPH, record number 2612). When employment information is unavailable from SEPH, employment is obtained from the PD7 source which is available on the Business Register. If PD7 employment is 0 for an individual enterprise, that enterprise is counted as having 0 employees. If employment for an individual enterprise is unavailable in PD7, Profiled number of employees on the BR is used. If employment is not found for an individual enterprise from any of the three sources, the enterprise is classified in the 0 or unreported employees category by default.

Error detection

This methodology type does not apply to this statistical program.


No imputation is done.


This methodology type does not apply to this statistical program.

Quality evaluation

The Trade by Importer Characteristics - Goods program identifies importing enterprises and establishments that contribute to import value. Import value that could not be linked resulted from a variety of factors, such as import records that were not business related, incomplete or invalid.

Disclosure control

Statistics Canada is prohibited by law from releasing any information it collects that could identify any person, business, or organization, unless consent has been given by the respondent or as permitted by the Statistics Act. Various confidentiality rules are applied to all data that are released or published to prevent the publication or disclosure of any information deemed confidential. If necessary, data are suppressed to prevent direct or residual disclosure of identifiable data.

In order to prevent any data disclosure, confidentiality analysis is done using the Statistics Canada Generalized Disclosure Control System (G-Confid). G-Confid is used for primary suppression (direct disclosure) as well as for secondary suppression (residual disclosure). Direct disclosure occurs when the value in a tabulation cell is composed of or dominated by few enterprises while residual disclosure occurs when confidential information can be derived indirectly by piecing together information from different sources or data series.

Revisions and seasonal adjustment

This methodology type does not apply to this statistical program.

Data accuracy

This statistical program is derived from a record linkage exercise. For every reference year, on average, over 95% of total import values received from customs records were linked to an entity from the Business Register.

Please refer to the IMDB entries of each individual data source used in this program for more information on their data accuracy measures.

Every effort is made to ensure that administrative data are conceptually correct for the use to which they are put. Any anomalies or inconsistencies detected are verified with the source, and where necessary, adjustments are made to reconcile data with the conceptual framework of our series. The administrative agencies used are considered to be the best source available, and data received from them is judged to be of very good quality, even in those circumstances where adjustments have been made.

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