FAQs: Import and export control

Q1. If a licensee has a requirement to export Category 2 sealed sources from Alberta, and potentially from other locations in Ontario and Newfoundland, to the same location in the United States, would the licensee require a separate licence for each location of origin?

Q2. A licensee may be required to export a number of sources of varying radioisotopes which may be surplus to its needs.  Individually, the sources are not Category 2 sealed sources, but the sum of the fractions (individual activity/threshold activity) is greater than one. Under US NRC rules and licences, this would be classed as a Category 2 shipment. Would this shipment require a licence for export from Canada?

Q3. Do export licences have a fixed expiry date?

Q4. If a shipment is completed before the expiry of the export licence, can a licensee complete another shipment before it expires?

Q5. My licence has been recently amended to have condition 2408 (Export Limitation) added, and I need to ship a sealed source containing 100 mCi (3700 MBq) of Cs-137 to a foreign country. Do I need to apply for an export licence from the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC)?

Q6. My licence does not currently authorize me to "import" Category 1 or Category 2 sealed sources because I purchase my sources from a Canadian distributor.  My distributor deals directly with a US manufacturer for the acquisition of sources. In order to save time and money, my agent has the sources delivered directly to my licensed location.  This has not been a problem so far, but with the introduction of the new RSSS Export and Import Controls Program and the need to notify CNSC of any shipments, it appears as though my shipment may be denied because my possession and use licence does not show "import" as an authorized activity.


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Q1. If a licensee has a requirement to export Category 2 sealed sources from Alberta, and potentially from other locations in Ontario and Newfoundland, to the same location in the United States, would the licensee require a separate licence for each location of origin?

A1. A separate licence from each location of origin is not needed.  This is outlined in paragraph 7.2 of G-341, which states in part that:

  • a separate application is required for each "transaction" or "specific set of transactions" that are anticipated to occur within a specific period of time
  • each licence issued will pertain to one or more importers but only a single country and
  • separate licences will be issued for Category 1 and Category 2 sealed sources 

A licensee can therefore apply for one export licence to ship a number of sources from specified licensed locations to specified recipients (final consignees) in a single country over a range of dates, provided that each final consignee and point of origin is known for each shipment type at the time of application.  Otherwise, a separate export licence, issued to the current CNSC nuclear substance and prescribed equipment licence holder, will be required for each shipment. 

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Q2. A licensee may be required to export a number of sources of varying radioisotopes which may be surplus to its needs.  Individually, the sources are not Category 2 sealed sources, but the sum of the fractions (individual activity/threshold activity) is greater than one. Under US NRC rules and licences, this would be classed as a Category 2 shipment. Would this shipment require a licence for export from Canada?

A2. The CNSC at present does not aggregate sources in shipments for the purposes of seeking an export licence.  The requirement for export licences is considered on a source-specific basis and does not apply to aggregations of sources.  Therefore, if you are exporting sources that individually fall below the Category 2 threshold, there is no requirement to apply for a licence. 

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Q3. Do export licences have a fixed expiry date?

A3. Under normal circumstances, an export licence will be issued for a 12-month period.  This should provide sufficient time for the export transaction to be completed. Some export licences may be issued based on individual applicant requirements.  For example, if a large consignment is intended over a prolonged period of time in multiple smaller shipments, a licensee may wish to request that the licence be of sufficient duration to allow for all of the individual shipments to be completed within the allotted period of time. The CNSC, after having satisfied itself that the application is satisfactory, may issue a licence for a longer period of time with respect to Category 2 sealed sources. However, with respect to Category 1 sealed sources, the duration of the export licence will also be subject to the importing authority's restrictions.  If, for whatever reason, an importing state wishes to impose a time constraint on its consent to import Category 1 sources, CNSC will be required to reflect that concern in its decision to issue a licence.

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Q4. If a shipment is completed before the expiry of the export licence, can a licensee complete another shipment before it expires?

A4. An export licence will be issued based on the information provided in an application.  Should the condition of the original licence be fulfilled – in other words the shipment completed ahead of schedule – then, for all intents and purposes, the licence becomes null and void.  A licensee may request that his licence be amended to accommodate certain situations but, once issued, the export licence is intended only for those activities originally stated.

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Q5. My licence has been recently amended to have condition 2408 (Export Limitation) added, and I need to ship a sealed source containing 100 mCi (3700 MBq) of Cs-137 to a foreign country. Do I need to apply for an export licence from the CNSC?

A5. The minimum activity limit for Cs-137 that requires a licensee to apply for an export licence is 30 Ci (1 000 GBq).  Since the size of the source in question falls within the Category 4 range of sealed sources, it is not subject to the RSSS Export and Import Controls Program.  A licence is therefore not required and the export transaction can occur through the general authorization of the possession and use licence.

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Q6. My licence does not currently authorize me to "import" Category 1 or Category 2 sealed sources because I purchase my sources from a Canadian distributor.  My distributor deals directly with a US manufacturer for the acquisition of sources. In order to save time and money, my agent has the sources delivered directly to my licensed location.  This has not been a problem so far, but with the introduction of the new RSSS Export and Import Controls Program and the need to notify CNSC of any shipments, it appears as though my shipment may be denied because my possession and use licence does not show "import" as an authorized activity.

A6. The introduction of the new RSSS Export and Import Controls Program requires that a prior notification be sent to the importing state regulator prior to the shipment of the Category 1 and Category 2 sealed source.  Upon receipt of such notifications, the regulator must perform compliance checks to make sure that the activity being conducted is in accordance with an appropriate possession and use licence.

The fact that the sources are acquired through a Canadian distributor does not require the licensee to have the "import" activity authorized in his licence provided that the source transfer is conducted directly between the two Canadian licensees.

However, difficulties arise with regard to supporting documentation when a Canadian distributor wishes to deal with a foreign supplier for the acquisition of the sources and when the Canadian distributor also wishes to have the foreign supplier drop-ship the source directly to the original purchaser (the Canadian licensee). United States and Canadian border agents could withhold the shipment if the accompanying licence does not authorize the "import" of the source, regardless of who purchased the source originally. Shipping documentation will show the final consignee and that final consignee must have proper authorization.

To eliminate the confusion and complexity of such transactions and to reduce the risk of shipment delays at the border or delays as a result of orders from CNSC, it is recommended that a Canadian licensee wishing to act through a Canadian distributor for the acquisition of sources through a foreign supplier have the authorization for "import" added to their possession and use licence.

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