Expiry, Expiration and End

Legistics est un recueil d’articles portant exclusivement sur les questions de rédaction en anglais des textes législatifs. La nature même de l’ouvrage fait en sorte qu’il n’est offert qu’en anglais. Pour un recueil d’articles portant exclusivement sur les questions de rédaction en français des textes législatifs, vous pouvez consulter le Guide fédéral de jurilinguistique législative française.


The word "expiration" is used consistently in the Revised Statutes of Canada. The apparent reasons for this are that the Statute Revision Commission preferred this word to the word "expiry" and this is the term defined in Black's Law Dictionary. In the regulations both the terms "expiration" (450 occasions) and "expiry" (139 occasions) are used.

"Expiration" is defined as "the coming to an end, termination". "Expiry" is also defined as the end or termination; however, the dictionaries go on to state that it is used especially to mean the termination of a time or period fixed by law, contract or agreement. According to Garner's Dictionary of Modern Legal Usage, "expiration" is the preferred word in American legal English while "expiry" is the preferred word in British legal English.

Proponents of plain language drafting include the word "expiration" in their lists of inflated and unusual words, see for example, Susan Krongold, "Writing Laws: Making Them Easier to Understand" (1992), 24 Ottawa L. Rev. 495 and the Law Reform Commission of Victoria, Plain English and the Law -- Drafting Manual. The word "expiry" is the word that is most familiar and used most in everyday speech.


  1. When possible, the word "end" should be used instead of the word "expiration".


    • All accounts required to be maintained under subsection (2) must be retained until the end of one year after the day on which leave to abandon operation of the pipeline has been granted by the Board.
    • A member of the Tribunal is eligible to be re-appointed at the end of a first or subsequent term of office.
    • An additional charge may be levied on goods on which wharfage is payable within a 30-day period and has not been paid at the end of that period.
    • An employee who is appointed for a specified period ceases to be an employee at the end of that period.
  2. When the word "end" is not appropriate, the noun "expiry" or the verb "expires" should be used. For example, the word "expiry" is preferable to "end" in the case of documents such as permits and licences.


    • A person to whom a permit is issued must return the permit to the game officer who issued it within 15 days after the day on which it expires or is cancelled.
    • The holder of a camping permit must remove any trailer or other vehicle from any area for which the permit was issued before the permit expires.
    • The notification must both be signed and include the results of tests carried out to determine the expiry date of the new human milk substitute.

NOTE: When a starting date is given, the use of "expiration" and "expiry" might not be necessary when expressing the end of a period.


If the application is made after the two-year period following the day on which this Convention comes into force, the rights that are not subject to forfeiture are acquired as of the date of application.