FAQs: End-use controls

The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) is Canada's independent nuclear regulator. Part of our mandate is to implement measures to which Canada has agreed respecting the international control of the development, production and use of nuclear energy, including the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons and nuclear explosive devices. One way we do this is through our import and export control program.

The proliferation of nuclear weapons is a serious threat to Canadian and global security. The CNSC implements a licensing process which ensures a risk-based assessment of proposed exports and imports of nuclear and nuclear-related dual-use items. 

The End-use controls are a part of this process and are designed to help ensure that Canadian exporters do not contribute – either knowingly or unwittingly – to a nuclear weapons program.

This page provides further information on these controls.

Exporter looking for information about export controls

What are end-use controls?

End-use controls, also known as “catch-all” controls, regulate the export of items that are not otherwise specifically listed in the Nuclear Non-proliferation Import and Export Control Regulations (NNIECR) when there are reasonable grounds to believe that such items may be intended for use in connection with a nuclear weapons program.

These less sensitive items do not meet the technical specifications of the items listed in NNIECR Schedule Part B, but may still hold some level of utility in a nuclear weapons program. Examples include: items which fall just outside the technical specifications of controlled goods listed in the NNIECR and items used in the development and infrastructure of a nuclear weapons program (such as research and development programs at universities, or non-safeguarded civilian nuclear reactors).

As a result, such items can be made subject to licensing controls if there are reasonable grounds to suspect the item is intended for use in a nuclear weapons program.

The end-use controls in the NNIECR apply to substances (B.1.1.20), equipment (B.2.7.6) and information (B.3).

Why are end-use controls necessary?

The items listed in the NNIECR are based on lists of nuclear and nuclear-related dual-use items agreed by the Nuclear Suppliers Group. The lists capture only the most proliferation-sensitive items. The inclusion of all possible (less sensitive) items that might support a nuclear weapons program would create an unnecessary burden on legitimate trade.

Therefore, end-use controls help to ensure that Canadian exporters do not contribute knowingly or unwittingly to a nuclear weapons program by requiring less sensitive items to be made licensable only if they are – or may be – usable in a nuclear weapons program.

When will it be used?

The CNSC determines whether or not the end-use control is applicable upon receipt of an enquiry or application from the exporter, or if it determines that a shipment is being made to an end-user of concern.

A common way in which the CNSC may become aware that a shipment is being made to an end-user of concern is if Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) detains a shipment and consults with the CNSC as to whether an export licence is required.

When the end-use control is applicable, the exporter will be informed by letter or email that an export licence is required before the item(s) may be exported.

What happens when end-use controls apply?

When the end-use control is applicable, the exporter will be informed of the requirement to apply for a CNSC export licence. Once an export application is submitted, it will be assessed using a risk-based approach. If the assessment concludes that the export is likely not destined for use in connection with a nuclear weapons program, a CNSC export licence will be issued (but only once every licensing concern was addressed satisfactorily).

In cases where staff assessments show an unacceptable risk (i.e., that the export is destined to be used in connection with a weapons program), the CNSC staff will recommend a licence refusal and the applicant will be informed of this recommendation by a formal letter from the designated officer.

What do I have to do as an exporter?

If you suspect that your export will be used in connection with the design, development, production, handling, operation, maintenance or storage of nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices, then your item is controlled and you should contact the CNSC and apply for an export license.

What are some of the signs that should alert me as an exporter?

In many cases, however, an exporter may not be able to know or suspect that an export is for use in a nuclear weapons program. The "red flags" (procurement indicators) identified bellow are intended to help identify suspicious enquiries, orders that might generate end-use concerns or the need for increased scrutiny.

If you are informed by the CNSC that your export is controlled for export pursuant to these end-use controls, you should apply for a CNSC export licence if you wish to proceed with the shipment.

Where can I go for further information?

If an exporter is uncertain as to whether or not the end-user control will apply, they can:

Red flags for exporters

  • The customer is new to you and your knowledge of them is incomplete or inconsistent.
  • The customer is reluctant to provide information about the end use of the item, or refuses to provide an end-use statement. If information is provided, it is vague.
  • The customer is unfamiliar with the item and its capabilities but still wishes to purchase the item.
  • The item does not fit with the customer's area of business. An unconvincing explanation is given as to why the items are required given the customer's normal business or the technical sophistication of the items.
  • The customer is evasive or is reluctant to indicate whether the item is for domestic use, export or for re-export.
  • The item is incompatible with the technical level of the country.
  • The customer is willing to pay cash for an item that normally requires financing or offers to pay a higher price. Other examples of unusual payment are roundabout wire transfers, late changes in deal terms and/or source of payment.
  • Routine installation, training or maintenance services are declined.
  • The customer makes requests for excessive spare parts or displays no interest in any spare parts.
  • The customer requests that the item is transferred to a forwarding address in Canada.
  • A freight forwarding company is listed as the final destination.
  • Unusual shipping, packaging or labeling arrangements are requested.