Repositioning empty containers in Canada's coasting trade

Learn how the rules for foreign vessels providing services related to repositioning empty containers 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 section in the Coasting Trade Act

Repositioning of empty containers

New subsection 3 (2.1) of the CTA excludes qualifying vessels and owners from the requirement to obtain a coasting trade licence. Qualifying vessels intending to reposition empty containers, which are owned or leased by the vessel owner, include:

  • (a) a non-duty paid ship whose owner is a Canadian entity or an European Union (EU) entity
  • (b) a foreign ship that is registered in the first, or domestic, register of a member state of the European Union and whose owner is a Canadian entity, an EU entity or an entity that is under Canadian or European control
  • (c) a foreign ship that is registered in a second, or international, register of a member state of the European Union and whose owner is a Canadian entity, an EU entity or an entity under Canadian or European control, and
  • (d) a foreign ship that is registered in a register other than the Canadian Register of Vessels or a register referred to in paragraph (b) or (c), and whose owner is a Canadian entity or an EU entity

Amendments explained

Under subsection 3 (2.1), the repositioning of empty containers, without consideration, between locations in Canada onboard qualifying vessels will be permitted without the requirement to obtain a coasting trade licence. Eligible entities may reposition their own and leased empty containers with any ancillary equipment that is permanently affixed to those containers. The CTA does not impose a limit on the number of times a qualifying vessel and owner can reposition empty containers or on the locations the empty containers can be moved in Canada.

There is also no restriction on the registry (first or second) of the vessel used for this type of service for qualifying Canadian entities and EU entities located in an EU member state. EU entities located outside an EU member state that are owned or controlled by nationals of the EU or Canada, must always use EU-registered vessels. In addition, EU entities located outside the EU or Canada may not be located in the United States.

New provisions related to repositioning empty containers 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, EU and third-party entities are required to give notice before providing services related to repositioning empty containers:

Contact Transport Canada’s Domestic Marine Policy Group

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

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