Shopping in Canada Booklet

General Information


Being informed means better protection

In Canada you should expect to:

  • Pay only for the products or services you have agreed to buy
  • Have retailers and manufacturers honour their warranties or guarantees
  • Be protected against products or services that are hazardous to your health
  • Be entitled to return or exchange products if there is a product exchange or return policy
  • Be able to complain to the merchant or supplier if you are not satisfied with a product or service
  • Have your privacy respected and protected
  • Be able to complain to public agencies

  • Stores often promote their deals and specials in flyers which may also contain coupons that you can bring to the store to receive a discount. Look for specials, sales and coupons in newspapers, magazines or online.
  • If a store no longer has an item that’s advertised as being on sale, they may offer you a rain check. This is to let you know that you can come back to the store and buy the item at the sale price when it’s available.
  • Businesses don’t have to give a refund or exchange on a product unless it is written in their return policy.

Go to Shopping in Canada: A Consumer Guide for Newcomers for more detailed information



Shopping on the internet

There are advantages and risks of buying things on the Internet (or online). Before giving any financial information, make sure you are using a secure Internet link. Look for one or both of these clues: a lock or key somewhere near the border of your browser and/or the website address begins with https://. The “s” means that the site is secure.

Make sure that you understand the online company’s warranty, return and exchange policies, as well as finding out how much shipping, duties and taxes will be before you complete your transaction.

Build your buying skills

  • Be informed about and do research on the product or service you are considering before buying it
  • Compare prices and ask questions about differences between similar products
  • Read and understand everything in a contract before you sign it
  • Make sure you receive what you have paid for
  • Let a business you are dealing with know if you have a problem or complaint
  • Read product instructions and user products as they are supposed to be used
  • Understand what is covered, and what is not covered, under product and service warranties or guarantees
  • Know what you need to do if you wish to return a product
  • Check the qualifications references of people you are hiring to do home or vehicle repairs

Consumer contracts

A contract is a legal agreement that you sign when you commit to the terms and conditions in the document. You may not be able to cancel a contract just because you’ve changed your mind. Some contracts are hard to cancel and if you do, it may cost you additional money to do so. When possible, have a lawyer or someone you trust review the contract before you sign it. In some provinces and territories, some contracts can be cancelled soon after you sign; check with your provincial or territorial consumer affairs office to learn the rules where you live.

Go to Shopping in Canada: A Consumer Guide for Newcomers for more detailed information

You and Your Home



Services such as heating, lighting and water are called utilities. Unless you are renting a home where utilities are included in the rent, you will usually have to contact companies and open accounts for the utilities that you need. Before you rent or buy a home, make sure to ask about how the utilities are supplied and which companies you will need to contact.

Products you need for your home

  • Many different types of stores sell new or used furniture. You can also find furniture and appliances for sale in your local newspaper, used goods stores and online.
  • “In store credit” or “in store credit cards” are offered by many large retailers, sometimes with offers of not paying for 12 months or more. However, these offers may come with higher interest costs and you may face high penalty charges if you don’t pay on time.
  • Some stores offer “rent to own” furniture and appliances. These stores ask you to sign a contract that lets you take the product home and make small bi-weekly or monthly payments until you have fully paid for the items. Doing this may allow you to possess the goods immediately but may also result in you paying much more in the long run than what it would cost you to pay it completely right away.

Go to Shopping in Canada: A Consumer Guide for Newcomers for more detailed information

Be Informed



A warranty is a written promise to replace or repair a product you have purchased, if necessary, within a specified period. You may be asked if you want to buy an extended warranty. Before you pay more for an extended warranty, check to see if the product you are buying is already covered by a manufacturer’s warranty. For more information, visit the Canadian Consumer Handbook.


In some provinces and territories, you are required to purchase insurance when you rent a home or buy a house. It is recommended that regardless of the law, you carry such insurance to protect your belongings from damages, destruction or theft. There are also many other types of insurance available such as:

  • Automobile insurance
  • Life insurance
  • Tenant insurance
  • Mortgage insurance
  • Travel insurance
  • Credit balance insurance
  • Additional health insurance

For more information, visit the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada website.

Product safety in Canada

You cannot bring into Canada products that do not meet Canadian safety standards. For a list of products that are banned or that have to meet certain requirements, or for a list of products that have been recalled, visit Health Canada.

Food in Canada

  • Canada has strong food safety rules and practices to make sure that food is safe. Food labels in Canada must include information which can help you choose what to buy such as the ingredients, expiration date and best before date. For more information of food safety in Canada, visit Canadian Food Inspection Agency website.
  • Everyone entering Canada is required by law to declare all plant, animal and food items they bring into the country. Visit the Be Aware and Declare website for more information about products that are allowed into Canada.
  • The Government of Canada has developed a guide to help Canadians make wise food choices. This guide is available in several languages. For more information visit: Eating Well with Canada’s Food Guide

Go to Shopping in Canada: A Consumer Guide for Newcomers for more detailed information



Government Contacts

Service Canada

To access programs, services, and benefits from the Government of Canada and its partners.


Telephone: 1 800 O-Canada (1-800-622-6232)

TTY: 1-800-926-9105

Citizenship and Immigration Canada

Information on programs and services for newcomers

Quebec Immigration Services

Ministère de l’immigration et des communautés culturelles

Provincial – Territorial Consumer Affairs Offices:

Contact information for Provincial and Territorial Consumer Affairs Offices

Go to Shopping in Canada: A Consumer Guide for Newcomers for more detailed information