Canada

Canada is resource-rich, culturally diverse and offers one of the highest qualities of life in the world. Its excellent infrastructure and global connections provide access to key international markets. Globally renowned as one of the world’s most welcoming countries, Canada is an ideal international business hub.

Welcome to Canada

The world’s second largest country by land mass, and a major trading nation, Canada is a top destination for foreign companies and investors. Many are attracted by its stable political environment, geographically and culturally diverse cities, and history of strong economic growth.

HSBC Bank Canada, a subsidiary of HSBC Holdings plc, is one of the leading international banks in the country. Through our three global business lines – Commercial Banking, Global Banking and Markets, and Retail Banking and Wealth Management – we work closely to help companies and individuals do business and manage their finances locally and internationally.

Our local knowledge and global expertise combined with over 150 years’ experience means HSBC Bank Canada is ideally positioned to help your business take advantage of all the opportunities this country has to offer.

This guide provides an introduction to doing business in Canada. As your business grows and your needs become more complex we can continue to provide deep market expertise to help your business continue its growth.

We look forward to working with you and helping your business thrive.

Sandra Stuart President and Chief Executive Officer, HSBC Bank Canada

Head office address: Suite 300-885 West Georgia Street, Vancouver, BC V6C 3E9

Essentials

Population
36.7 million1
Size
9,984,670 sq km
Main languages
English and French
Capital city
Ottawa
Other major cities
Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton
Currency
Canadian Dollar
Dialling code
+1
GDP
USD43,660 per capita2
Top exports
Motor vehicles and parts, industrial machinery, aircraft, telecommunications equipment, chemicals, plastics, fertilizers; wood pulp, timber, crude petroleum, natural gas, electricity, aluminum3
Top imports
Machinery and equipment, motor vehicles and parts, crude oil, chemicals, electricity, durable consumer goods3
Unemployment rate
6%4
Corporation tax
15%5
Typical office hours
9.00am - 5.00pm, Monday to Friday
Time zone
Pacific Time  UTC -7:00 Vancouver
Mountain Time  UTC -7:00 / -6:00 Calgary / Edmonton
Central Time  UTC -6:00 / -5:00  Regina / Winnipeg
Eastern Time  UTC -5:00 / -4:00  Toronto / Montreal
Atlantic Time  UTC -4:00 / -3:00  Halifax
Newfoundland UTC -2:30 St Johns
Emergency numbers
911 (police, fire and ambulance services)

Canada: The global connector

Ranked

# 18

for ease of doing business (in a survey of 190 measured economies by The World Bank)

  • Leader in world trade

    Canada is one of the largest trading nations in the world, presenting itself as a ‘foreign trade zone’ spanning an entire country.

  • Highly-skilled, diverse workforce

    Canada’s workforce is highly-skilled, and ranks as the best-educated among other Organisation for Economic Co-operation & Development (OECD) countries.

  • Rich in resources

    Canada is a country blessed with many natural resources. It has the third-largest oil reserves of any country, with the vast bulk of it lying in the oil sands of northern Alberta. Its economy also benefits from production and export of its wealth of other resources, including timber, iron ore, coal and precious metals.

  • Access to key markets

    Canada’s booming ports provide access to world markets from both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. And the Great Lakes/St Lawrence Seaway, linking Canada with the US heartland, carries 200 million tonnes of commodities annually.

  • Positive about business

    Canada has a long track record of welcoming overseas investors. It has consistently offered low business taxes and efficient set-up. The country ranks fifth in the world in Forbes’ Best Countries for Business table.

Country profile

Canada spans ice-bound islands and dynamic cities. It mingles British, French and US influences – with a constant cultural mix of new arrivals. The country has embraced its diversity to become a formidable player on the world stage.

After Russia, Canada is the world’s second-largest country by land mass. The territory ranges from the 35,000-plus Arctic islands of the north to the temperate southern lowlands.

For every Canadian, there are around 60 acres of Canada, though in fact most of the population lives within 200 miles of the US border. Toronto and Montreal are the biggest and most influential cities; Vancouver is the largest port and a centre for international trade; and the federal capital is Ottawa, in south-east Ontario.

Canada is divided into 10 provinces and three vast northern territories. Formally, it remains a constitutional monarchy, with Elizabeth II, Queen of the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and approximately 30 other independent countries, as head of state.

Canada plays an active part in world affairs as a member of the Commonwealth and the G7, and is a founding member of the United Nations and the OECD.

Read on to discover more about the dos and don’ts of doing business in Canada. Also find out how trading in or with the country could help boost the future growth of your business.

5 reasons to do business in Canada1

  1. Low corporate costs
    Canada offers low corporate taxes and set-up costs. Tax initiatives include the elimination of import tariffs on manufacturing equipment, and incentives to support research and development (R&D).
  2. Global connections
    Canada’s extensive trade transport network is underpinned by effective trade deals with the world’s most prosperous markets. The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) currently (as at June 2018) allows investors to reach markets with a combined GDP of circa CAD21 trillion.
  3. A strong workforce
    Canada has the best-educated workforce among the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries, ranking highly for skills and capacity. Over half of Canadian adults have a college or university education.
  4. A healthy economy
    With a recent track record as the best performer among G7 countries, Canada is set to continue to enjoy modest but steady annual GDP growth of around 2% in 2018 and 2019.
  5. A stable environment
    Canada benefits from a stable government and offers a good quality of life. High employment rates, strong household income and universal healthcare services contribute to feelings of security and life satisfaction that are among the highest of OECD countries.

5 key challenges1

  1. 1

    US uncertainty

    Canada’s close trading links with the US have been a prime asset, but recent reforms proposed by the current US administration may have an adverse impact. The renegotiation of NAFTA, for example, could jeopardise tariff-free trade between the two countries.

  2. 2

    Hooked on commodities

    The flip side of Canada’s abundant natural resources is its exposure to changing global demand. Alberta suffered in the oil price slump after 2014, while other provinces and territories rely on continued demand for metals and forestry products.

  3. 3

    Currency sensitivity

    Although regarded as one of the world’s more stable currencies, the Canadian dollar is sensitive to export demand in oil, gas and commodities. When oil prices declined in 2014, the Canadian dollar suffered a 15% depreciation against the US dollar in six months.

  4. 4

    Costly cities

    Many Canadian cities, once relatively inexpensive places to move to, have seen house purchase prices soar in recent years, specifically in major cities of Vancouver and Toronto. The Organisation for OECD has also warned of rising rent costs and low vacancy rates in Vancouver and Toronto.

  5. 5

    Language laws

    Canada has two official operating languages – English and French. This means that any companies operating nationally, or specifically based in or serving customers in the province of Quebec, are subject to language requirements that some may find onerous.