Feeder services in Canada's coasting trade

Learn how the rules for foreign vessels providing feeder services in Canada are changing under amendments to the Coasting Trade Act (CTA). The amendments take effect when the Canada-European Union (EU) Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) enters into force in 2017.

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New sections in the Coasting Trade Act

Feeder services between the Port of Halifax, Nova Scotia and the Port of Montreal, Québec

Feeder services – continual or single trip

New subsection 3 (2.3) of the CTA excludes a qualifying vessel and owner from the requirement to obtain a coasting trade licence when undertaking feeder services, as described below:

  • (a) the carriage of goods by a ship that is on the first (domestic) registry, from the Port of Halifax — where the goods are loaded — to the Port of Montreal, or vice versa, if that carriage is one leg of the importation of the goods into Canada, or
  • (b) the carriage of goods by the ship from the Port of Montreal — where the goods are loaded — to the Port of Halifax, or vice versa, if that carriage is one leg of the exportation of the goods from Canada

Feeder services – single trip

New subsection 3 (2.4) of the CTA, and subject to subsection (2.5), excludes a qualifying vessel and owner from the requirement to obtain a coasting trade licence when undertaking feeder services by a ship that is on the second (international) registry, and carrying goods in a container, from the Port of Montreal to the Port of Halifax, or vice versa, if:

  • (a) that carriage is one leg of the importation of the goods into or exportation from Canada, and
  • (b) the container is at least 6.1 metres in length and has an internal volume of at least 14 cubic metres, is designed for carrying goods more than once and by one or more modes of transportation, and does not have wheels or is not otherwise built for being driven or drawn

Subsequent services in Canadian waters

The new subsection 3 (2.5) specifies that once an CTA second registry vessel undertakes an activity described in the new subsection 3 (2.4), the vessel must obtain a coasting trade licence to undertake any subsequent commercial marine activities in Canada’s territorial or inland waters.

Amendments explained

Under subsections 3 (2.3) and 3 (2.4), continual and single trip feeder services between the Port of Halifax and the Port of Montreal will be permitted without the requirement to obtain a coasting trade licence for qualifying entities and vessel registries.

Feeder services are defined in Canada-European Union (EU) Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) under International Marine Transportation Services, Chapter 14, as:

  • The pre- and onward transportation by sea of international cargo, including containerized, break bulk and dry or liquid bulk cargo, between ports located in the territory of a party
  • For greater certainty, in respect of Canada, feeder services may include transportation between sea and inland waters, where inland waters means those defined in the Customs Act, R.S.C. 1985, c.1

For vessels registered on an EU Member State first registry, the provisions allow for (subsection 3(2.3)):

  • A continuous or single voyage service between the Port of Halifax and the Port of Montreal. The service must be part of an international transportation movement related to the importation of inbound goods into Canada or one transportation movement related to the exportation of outbound goods from Canada.
  • For example, a first registry CTA vessel could provide a weekly scheduled service between the Port of Halifax and the Port of Montreal. There is no limit on the type of cargo transported by first registry CTA vessels.

For vessels registered on an CTA Member State second registry, the provisions allow for (subsection 3(2.4)):

  • A single service voyage between the Port of Halifax and the Port of Montreal. The single service voyage must be part of an international transportation movement related to the importation of inbound goods into Canada or one transportation movement related to the exportation of outbound goods from Canada.
  • For example, a second registry CTA vessel conducting an international trip could pick up loaded containers in Montreal and drop them off in Halifax on its way overseas, or pick up loaded containers in Halifax and drop them off in Montreal on its way out of Canada. After a single trip is complete, a second registry vessel must leave Canada’s exclusive economic zone or inland waters, or obtain a coasting licence to undertake subsequent coasting trade activities in Canadian waters. Second registry CTA vessels are limited to the transportation of containerized cargo only.

New provisions related to feeder services do not affect existing regulatory requirements on foreign vessels operating in Canadian water, such as applicable non-discriminatory safety and pollution prevention requirements.

Read our list of coasting trade terminology and definitions.

Advance notification

Canadian, European Union and third-party entities are required to give notice before providing feeder services in Canada without a licence:

Contact Transport Canada’s Domestic Marine Policy Group

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

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