Australian SMEs Entering the Canadian Market – What You Need to Know

02 Mar 2018 1:56 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

Last week the CACC’s SME Committee hosted another successful roundtable event (21 Feb) which focused on advice for Australian businesses looking to expand into Canada.

Moderated by Chris Beal from RFC Ambrian, panelists included Josh Khoddami from Neu.Capital, Angela Rossi from Altios International, and Kane Bourke from OMF Markets, who hosted the roundtable in their Sydney office. 

The discussion covered a range of topics relevant to Australian businesses looking to enter Canada including incorporation, financial considerations, as well as legal and administrative matters.

So what do you need to know? Let’s start with the basics:

First, on average it takes between 1-3 months to set up a business in Canada. While finding the right advice can make the process more efficient, the amount of time required is also largely dependent what the nature of your business is.

Second, Australia and Canada operate very different national models for doing business, with Australia (generally speaking) being a much easier environment to set up a company in, while Canada is a bit trickier in terms of incorporation, tax, grants and other considerations as these vary widely from Province to Province. If your company doesn’t need to be based in a specific location within Canada, make sure you evaluate the pros and cons of setting up in each province to ensure the location you are incorporated in is the best possible fit.

Third, get the right advice and advisers. While this may seem commonsense, one panelist made the point that his business found it difficult to find a lawyer (even from a global firm) who could work seamlessly across multiple Provincial regulations. Finding a bank who can work across both borders easily (NAB for instance) can also make the transition process much easier. And while working out the myriad of decisions for yourself can seem like you are saving money, paying for the right advice will ultimately be quicker and allow you to focus on running your business.

Three other points worth sharing:

  • If you are looking to enter the US market from Australia, in many cases using Canada as an entry point is the best option rather than going direct for a few reasons, including instant ‘North American’ credibility (perception is important), ease of cross border business, and depending on the Province you are incorporated in, favorable benefits for your company. 
  • Don’t overlook potentially setting up your business in a smaller regional town which is geographically strategic. One example provided was Cornwall, Ontario which is conveniently located between Montreal, Ottawa, and Toronto, as well as key US cities. While this location may not benefit all businesses, it is worth considering as a way to limit logistical costs and bring you closer to your customers.
  • In addition to professional advisers, the Canadian Trade Commissioner Service in Australia can also provide helpful advice to Australian businesses looking to expand into Canada, so don’t be afraid to contact them and ask how they can be of assistance.

For more information on any of these topics, or to discuss other subjects about expanding your business in the Canadian market, feel free to contact the SME Committee at 

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