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An Export Control List Item Number (the “ECL Item Number”) is the Canadian identification or classification number that must be provided on export permit applications made under the Export and Import Permits Act and, if the good is subject to economic sanctions, requests for ministerial authorizations. All goods that are subject to Canada’s export controls regime have an ECL Item Number.  Exporters of controlled goods must determine the ECL Item Number.  Exporters of goods must determine if the good to be exported is controlled by determining if there is an ECL Item Number for the good.  Goods that are not controlled (e.g., bananas), do not have an ECL Item Number.

Every item that is on the Export Control List is known as an “Item” and each “Item” is numbered.  The export controls classification exercise requires that you review the “A Guide to Canada’s Export Controls” – the Export Control List Item Numbers are contained in that Guide.

The Export Control List is divided into the following seven Groups:

  • Group 1: Dual-Use List
  • Group 2: Munitions List
  • Group 3: Nuclear Non-Proliferation List
  • Group 4: Nuclear-Related Dual-Use List
  • Group 5: Miscellaneous Goods and Technology
  • Group 6: Missile Technology Control Regime List
  • Group 7: Chemical and Biological Weapons Non-Proliferation List

The first identifier in an ECL Item Number is a number and corresponds to the Group in which the Item is listed.   The items are further subdivided into more specific categories (or Sub-Items) with numbering schemes that vary somewhat between Groups. Sub-items are also identified by indentations in the text. The second character is  “-“. The third identifier is the Category Number in the Group.  After the Category identifier, the remaining subcategory identifiers are separated by periods.  The next identifier in the Sub-Items (or Sub-Categories) is almost always a letter. The identifiers to follow alternate between numbers and letters. Sub-items are also identified by indentations in the text.  Determining the ECL Item Number classification number involves looking at the text and Chapter Notes.

To identify a specific Export Control List item, the numbers and letters of each subsequent paragraph leading to that item are given.  For example, 1-6.A.5.d.1 is an Export Control List Item number addressing semi-conductor lasers.

There is a cheat sheet to ECL Item Number classification, which is the Index of “A Guide to Canada’s Export Controls”. However, based on our experience, it is not as simple as looking at the Index.  It is necessary to undertake the classification exercise because there are times when a good can be classified in more than one Group or Category.  Due to the fact that ECL Item Number classification is not based on an internationally agreed upon set of rules, it is often more complicated than H.S. classification.

Things are even more complicated.  It is important for all exporters to know that they need to know that Canada has three (3) classification systems for goods:

  1. The H.S. Tariff Classification Number for imports;
  2. Canadian Export Classification Number  (also called an Export H.S. Number) for all goods to be exported; and
  3. The ECL Item Number for restricted goods.

The H.S. Tariff Classification Number for import purposes also remains relevant for export purposes.  The H.S. Tariff Classification Number for import purposes is determined by reference to the Customs Tariff.  The Customs Tariff numbering system is based on the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System (or Harmonized System).  The H.S. Tariff Classification Number has not been harmonized with ECL Item Numbers.

The Canadian Export Classification Number is a Statistics Canada number that is based upon the H.S. System, but only has 21 categories.  You can go to an online resource of Statistics Canada.

While the H.S. Tariff Classification and the Canadian Export Classification Number are usually the same number, there is almost no way to use the H.S. Tariff Classification System to help with ECL Item Number classification.  The ECL Item Number classification exercise is independent from H.S. tariff classification. Also, just because a good is classified for H.S. tariff classification system as a military good or ammunition does not mean it will be on the Export Control List.

If you require assistance determining an ECL Item Number for a good, please contact Cyndee Todgham Cherniak at 416-307-4168 or email  For more information about Canada’s export controls, please go to the Free Information on the LexSage website.