Coasting trade terminology and definitions

Requirements for foreign vessels are changing under the Canada-European Union (EU) Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA). Find definitions of key terms that relate to these services:

Definitions are provided for information only; legal definitions found in the Coasting Trade Act (CTA) and CETA take precedence.

Terminology and definitions

Ancillary equipment

Any equipment that enhances the safety, security, containment and preservation of goods carried in vehicles falling within the terms of tariff item 9801.10.10. Ancillary equipment can be imported pursuant to tariff item 9801.10.20 without documentation in accordance with the Reporting of Imported Goods Regulations, when it is used in international service (Canadian Border Services Agency Memorandum D3-4-2).

Canadian entity
  • (a) A corporation that is incorporated in Canada, or
  • (b) A trust, partnership, joint venture or other association that is formed in Canada

Any goods, wares, merchandise and articles of every kind whatsoever carried in the container, as defined in the Safe Containers Convention Act (R.S.C., 1985, c. S-1).

Combination cargo

A vessel’s cargo where a portion will remain in the domestic market and another portion will be exported or has just been imported from the international market.

Container, or cargo container

An identifiable article of transport equipment of a permanent character and accordingly strong enough to be suitable for repeated use; specially designed to facilitate the transport of goods, by one or more modes of transportation, without intermediate reloading; designed to be secured and/or readily handled, having corner fittings for these purposes; of a size such that the area enclosed by the 4 outer bottom corners is either:

  • a) at least 14 m², or
  • b) at least 7 m² if it is fitted with top corner fittings

For the purposes of this provision, the term container includes neither vehicles, wheels nor packaging, as defined in the Safe Containers Convention Act (R.S.C., 1985, c. S-1) and Canadian Border Services Agency Memorandum D3-7-1.

Contiguous waters

The waters constituting the boundary line between Canada and the United States.

Continual trip

A trip between the Port of Halifax and the Port of Montreal, and back again, indefinitely, where cargo is moved as part of a leg of an international import or export of goods. For example, this could be a liner/scheduled service.


The physical removal of materials including rocks, bottom sediments, plants, debris, sand and refuse from a bed of water body/watercourse for the purpose of excavating, cleaning, deepening, widening or lengthening the water course.

In general, dredging is done by specialized ships and dredgers. The characteristics of these vessels depends on the nature of the work and environment in which it must be performed. Types of dredging and equipment include the following:

  • Mechanical: bucket dredge, backhoe dredge and barge
  • Hydraulic: pump dredge, trailing suction hopper dredge and cutter dredge

Dredging is often focused on maintaining or increasing the depth of navigation channels, anchorages or berthing areas to ensure the safe passage of vessels.

Empty container

A container that is not carrying cargo, but that may include ancillary equipment that is permanently affixed to the container. Ancillary equipment is equipment that is necessary for the operation of the container (i.e., a refrigeration system). Ancillary equipment that is not permanently affixed is not considered part of the empty container (e.g., empty cargo vans, empty lift vans, empty shipping tanks, and stevedoring equipment and material).

European (EU) entity
  • (a) A corporation that is incorporated in the territory of the European Union (EU), or
  • (b) A trust, partnership, joint venture or other associated that is formed in the territory of the EU.
First registry

A qualifying first, or domestic register of a member state of the EU or a vessel on the Canadian Vessel Registry.

Inland waters

As defined in the Customs Act (R.S.C., 1985, c.1 (2nd Supp.)), means all the rivers, lakes and other fresh waters in Canada and includes the St. Lawrence River as far seaward as the straight lines drawn:

  • from Cap-des-Rosiers to the westernmost point of Anticosti Island, and
  • from Anticosti Island to the north shore of the St. Lawrence River along the meridian of longitude 63 degrees west.

There is no financial or in-kind transaction gained by the vessel owner moving the empty container.


The person having for the time being, either by law or by contract, the rights of the owner of the ship with respect to its possession and use.

Permanently affixed

Ancillary equipment that cannot easily be removed from the container (i.e., screwed or bolted on).

Second registry

A qualifying second, or international register of a member state of the EU. Qualifying second registries are listed in regulations under the CTA.

Single trip

A trip from the Port of Halifax to the Port of Montreal, or vice versa, where cargo is loaded in one port and then unloaded at the other port. There is no subsequent transport activity taking place without a coasting trade licence.

Contact Transport Canada’s Domestic Marine Policy Group


Date modified: