Secondhand Sellers: Products Must Comply With Canadian Laws

The demand for used products has never been higher, and entrepreneurial Canadians have been happy to provide them. From stay-at-home moms trying to supplement the household income, to side hustlers, and retailers, second-hand items are bringing in a tidy sum. In fact, half of Canadians say they’ve found reselling their unwanted items (recommerce) is a good supplement to their primary income.

Which Secondhand Products Are Illegal to Sell in Canada?

You may be surprised to learn it isn’t a simple matter of taking a picture and selling whatever you have online. Some research is required before you take responsibility for selling the item. Not doing so could result in significant fines, lawsuits, or even time in jail.

In Canada, sellers of used items are held to the same standard as retailers selling new items, even if they’re handmade.

“These laws do not distinguish between new and used products. Any person who imports, sells, distributes, or gives away products not complying with the current legislation is breaking the law in Canada,” states the Health Canada Industry Guide to Second-hand Products.

Most people who sell used goods online quickly learn there are banned items in Canada, but they may not be aware of the many other safety regulations and guidelines surrounding this income opportunity. In fact, there are important safety standards for used products in most categories.

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Let’s pull a few examples from the top 10 secondhand categories, according to Jungle Scout. These aren’t all of the applicable laws in each respective category, however, so be sure to check the Resources section below if you intend to sell within the example categories.

Example 1 – Clothing

Children’s sleepwear has a number of legal requirements revolving around fabric flammability. It should be nylon or polyester (synthetic fabric), since cotton (or cotton blend) fabrics burn faster.

Example 2 – Electronics

Personal stereo systems should include safe usage instructions. Additionally, there are guidelines for volume control and ability to hear traffic or other sounds.

Example 3 – Jewellery

Jewellery designed for children that contains lead shouldn’t be sold.

Example 4 – Sporting Goods

The Ice Hockey Helmet Regulations and Face Protectors for Ice Hockey and Box Lacrosse Players Regulations have several requirements for ice hockey helmets and face protectors for hockey and lacrosse.

Secondhand bicycle and similar helmets shouldn’t be sold, as they’re only designed to withstand one major impact.

Plus, there are blanket laws and standards that apply to a wide range of products sold, such as proper labelling or safety regulations under the Hazardous Products Act.

“If you are caught selling items that fail to meet safety standards you can be held responsible if someone is injured due to a product you sold to them,” cautions the Canada Safety Council. “The Hazardous Products Act provides for steep fines and prison sentences.”

Recommerce Recommendations for Canadian Compliance

There are some basic steps you can take to ensure your used products don’t break the law.

  1. Research what you’re selling so you’re aware of its legal requirements in Canada (or other countries you’re selling into).
  2. Ensure operation and assembly instructions are included (you may be able to find a copy on the manufacturer’s website).
  3. Ensure the product and all its parts are working properly.
  4. Ensure all warning labels are intact.
  5. Check for recalls.
  6. Make sure the product is clean and not contaminated.

You should be able to find answers to any questions you have using the resources included below. If you have any doubts about a product, don’t sell or donate it. But your responsibility doesn’t stop there, there are also laws and guidelines regarding the proper disposal of some of these products.

Resources for Secondhand Sellers

Between outdated information and guidelines for other countries, we’re bound to encounter incorrect Canadian legal advice online. I recommend sticking to the official websites of regulating authorities to ensure accurate information.

Visit the resources below or contact a Health Canada Consumer Product Safety Office via email ( or phone 1-866-662-0666.

Canada Consumer Product Safety Act

Food and Drugs Act

Cosmetic Regulations

Canada Consumer Product Safety Act Quick Reference Guide

Products under the Radiation Emitting Devices Act: The Radiation Emitting Devices Act (REDA) applies to the sale, advertising, packaging, and labelling of all radiation emitting devices.

Do you sell secondhand products in Canada? Please share your advice or questions in the comments below, or join us in the Online Business Canada Facebook group.

Note: I am not a legal professional and this article should not be considered legal advice.

Related Reading

Recommerce in Canada: Pre-owned/Used Product Sales (Stats)

Top Cosmetics Brands in the Online Secondhand Market

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Melody McKinnon
Digital Business & Marketing Manager at Online Business Canada | Website

Melody McKinnon is an internet entrepreneur with 25 years of experience in a wide range of online business models, backed by a formal business education and enhanced by training and mentorship. She has owned or managed both educational and ecommerce websites. Her book, 7 Recession Proof Online Businesses to Start From Home, is available from all major ebook retailers.

Melody has worked with many businesses & brands in a multitude of capacities. She can often be found on,,, and, as well as other quality digital publications. Her content has earned reference links from highly-respected websites, magazines and university textbooks.

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I’ve been selling used stuff online for years and didn’t know half of this! Scary for sellers but it makes sense. Now to do some research now that you’ve enlightened me.