Food, plant and animal inspections

Notice: Safe Food for Canadians Regulations

The Safe Food for Canadians Regulations (SFCR) are in effect, and make our food system even safer by focussing on prevention and allowing for faster removal of unsafe food from the marketplace. In most cases, commercial importers require a licence to import food into Canada. As of , importers who currently require an SFC licence and do not have one may experience delays or refusal of entry of their shipment at the border, and may be subject to other enforcement actions. For more information, including SFCR timelines and guidance, please refer to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency website.

What Food, Plant or Animal Products can I bring into Canada?

Did you know that importing a single piece of fruit or meat into Canada can be harmful to our ecosystems? Various food, plant and animal (FPA) products are restricted or prohibited entry because they can harbour foreign animal and plant pests and diseases. These things can cause irreparable harm to Canada's crops, livestock, environment, and threaten Canada's economy.

Many different kinds of items can introduce foreign threats into Canada. These include things as diverse as:

  • Food, such as raw or cooked meats, fruit/vegetables, milk;
  • Homemade articles, such as items made from plants or wood;
  • Houseplants;
  • Live animals, including pets;
  • Firewood;
  • Plant cuttings, seeds; and
  • Muddy hiking boots.

Please visit the Canadian Food Inspection Agency's website for more information on what you can bring into Canada in terms of food, plant, animal and related products.

Before you travel, verify the requirements for what you can bring into Canada

Before travelling to Canada, verify the requirements for any food, plant and animal products you are intending to bring into Canada. You can do this by using the Canadian Food Inspection Agency's (CFIA) Automated Import Reference System (AIRS).

Restrictions on what items you are allowed to bring into Canada vary depending on the product, country of origin and province of import. These restrictions are set up to help keep Canada's animals, plants and natural habitats healthy and safe. Due to constantly changing pest and disease situations, these restrictions may be adjusted at any time. Do your research each time you travel!

For assistance in finding or interpreting the requirements listed in AIRS, you may contact the CFIA's National Import Service Centre. General guidelines on what items you can or cannot bring into Canada can also be found on the CFIA's Web site.

Many goods are subject to controls under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), and others, even if not listed on the CITES Control List, may be prohibited for export by various countries. More information on CITES requirements and a searchable list of all CITES species can be found on Environment and Climate Change Canada's Web site.

The CFIA and Global Affairs Canada (GAC) has also have set limits on the quantity and/or dollar value of certain food products that you can bring into Canada duty-free or that you can include in your personal exemption. Please visit GAC's website for a complete listing of tariff rate quotas on agricultural products and export and import controls.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada also prohibits the importation of certain aquatic invasive species. For a list of those species, please consult the Schedule in the Aquatic Invasive Species Regulations. Note that these prohibitions apply whether a traveller is aware or not of transporting listed aquatic invasive species. If listed species are found, the species and the equipment they are attached to may be seized, detained, and/or ordered cleaned.

An additional source of importation information is the CBSA's Border Information Service (BIS).

If you are importing food for commercial purposes, please refer to Commercial shipments.

Tips for Travellers

  • Always declare your FPA items to the CBSA when entering Canada, whether they are regulated or not. If you are unsure about an item, ask a border officer!
  • Verify the import requirements for any food, plant and animal products that you plan to bring into Canada.
  • Check for "Hitchhikers", such as Zebra and Quagga mussels, snails, insects and other potential invasive alien species that can attach or cling to items such as boats, trailers, vehicles, plants, packaging and equipment.
  • Be sure to complete the areas of your Customs Declaration Card regarding farm visits, and avoid contact with farmed animals, zoo animals or wildlife for 14 days after you arrive in Canada if you were exposed to similar animals in other countries.
  • Be sure to clean all soil and organic debris off of any items including hiking boots, vehicles, boats and gardening and construction tools/equipment.
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