Import Prohibitions and Requirements for Commercial Importers of Aquatic Species and for Travellers Under the Aquatic Invasive Species Regulations
Memorandum D19-8-5

ISSN 2369-2391

Ottawa, May 13, 2019

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In Brief

  1. This memorandum advises importers, travellers, customs brokers and service providers of the import prohibitions and requirements under the Aquatic Invasive Species Regulations, (SOR/2015-121), which have been in effect since May 29, 2015.
  2. The import prohibitions in the Regulations are intended to prevent the introduction into Canada of listed aquatic invasive species.
  3. This memorandum has been updated to provide information on the Canada Border Services Agency’s expanding Food, Plant and Animal Program role under D19-1-1 in enforcing the Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s aquatic animal health and plant health requirements that overlap with the Agency’s role respecting the Aquatic Invasive Species Regulations.

This memorandum provides guidelines concerning importation of aquatic species relating directly to the supportive role of the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) at the border with respect to the Aquatic Invasive Species Regulations, made under the Fisheries Act. To the extent that these requirements overlap with the Health of Animals Act, the Plant Protection Act, the Wild Animal and Plant Protection and Regulation of International and Interprovincial Trade Act, and underlying Regulations, the procedures below explain the requirements under all of these Statutes and Regulations.


Guidelines and General Information

1. The Aquatic Invasive Species Regulations (AISR) provide a suite of regulatory tools under the federal Fisheries Act to prevent the introduction of aquatic invasive species into Canadian waters and to control and manage their establishment and spread, if introduced.

2. Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO), in partnership with the provinces and territories, is responsible for administration and enforcement.

3. The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) assists with the enforcement of import prohibitions listed in Column 4 of Part 2 of the Schedule to the Regulations. Import prohibitions currently apply to four species of Asian carps and two species of mussels. These species are not permitted to enter Canada unless certain conditions (described in paragraphs 7 to 9 below) are met. It is the responsibility of importers and the public to check the latest versions of the Regulations on the Justice Laws website for updates to the list of prohibited species in the Schedule.

4. Section 6 of the AISR and section 101 of the Customs Act provide the authority for CBSA officers to detain and refer to DFO officers or provincial enforcement authorities any aquatic species suspected to be uneviscerated Asian carps or live or dead Zebra or Quagga mussels unless certain exemptions to the import prohibitions apply (detailed in sections 11 to 17 of the AISR). In addition, subsections 15 (1) and 15(2) of the Health of Animals Act provide the CBSA with the authority to prohibit entry of any aquatic animal species, including certain Asian carp species, unless the importer has met the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) import requirements. Species regulated by both DFO and CFIA cannot be imported unless both DFO and CFIA import requirements are met.

5. Part 2 of the Schedule of the AISR also lists numerous species for which possession, transport and/or release is prohibited in certain areas of Canada. In addition, a number of provinces and territories have legislation prohibiting possession and transport of aquatic invasive species. A significant number of the species listed in the AISR Part 2 of the Schedule and listed by the provinces and/or territories can be found in the aquarium and water garden trade. It is the responsibility of importers to become familiar with the federal and provincial / territorial legislation respecting aquatic invasive species. Should the CBSA encounter any listed aquatic invasive species in or destined for the areas where they are prohibited, DFO or provincial/territorial authorities will be notified.

Commercial Importation

6. The importation into Canada of live or dead, uneviscerated Asian carps and live or dead mussels of the species listed in the table below for any use (e.g., food, aquarium, aquaculture, bait) is prohibited. The prohibition also applies to genetic material capable of propagating the species (e.g., fertilized eggs), and applies to shipments moving in-transit through Canada.

Common Name Scientific Name
Grass carp Ctenopharyngodon idella
Bighead carp Hypophthalmichthys nobilis
Silver carp Hypophthalmichthys molitrix
Black carp Mylopharyngodon piceus
Zebra mussel Dreissena polymorpha
Quagga mussel Dreissena bugensis

7. Exemptions to the above prohibitions and permit requirements are provided in sections 11 to 17 of the AISR and include importation for scientific and educational purposes with the applicable permits (as listed in subsection 13(2) of the AISR).

8. Importers seeking an exemption under subparagraphs 13(1)(a)(i) to (iii) of the AISR should obtain information on the application process for the necessary permits by contacting the Introductions and Transfers Committee in the province or territory representing the aquatic organisms' final destination. Contacts for each province and territory are available on the DFO website. An importer of these species who has obtained a permit must have the permit available to present at the border along with the required CFIA documentation in case of a request by CBSA, CFIA, DFO or provincial/territorial enforcement officials.

9. Zebra and Quagga mussels are prohibited from importation intentionally or inadvertently, as hitchhikers. Commercial boat haulers and importers are responsible for ensuring that the boats, trailers, vessels, vehicles, construction equipment, and other conveyances and equipment being imported are free of the mussel species listed in the AISR. Any watercraft or equipment that comes from an infested lake or river probably has attached mussels and requires measures to ensure that it is mussel-free. The AISR do not apply to ballast water and sediments for persons referred to in the Ballast Water Control and Management Regulations. In addition, biofouling of vessels more than 24 meters in length is not regulated under the AISR. It is also the importer’s responsibility to know the applicable provincial and territorial aquatic invasive species laws.

10. Importers are reminded of the requirement under section 7.1 of the Customs Act that information reported to the CBSA must be true, accurate and complete. There are thousands of aquatic species that are imported into Canada in the aquarium, water garden and pet trade, as live fish and seafood, and for research, stocking, aquaculture, bait, and other purposes. Because a large number of these species are prohibited, restricted, or regulated, it is necessary to include the scientific or taxonomic name for each species imported to enable an admissibility determination by the CBSA and other government departments that prohibit, control or regulate the importation of aquatic species. Scientific names are recognized internationally and are the only commodity descriptions that can satisfy the requirement for accurate and complete information for animal and plant commodities.

11. Under the Health of Animals Regulations there are specific information requirements that must be met for importation, including the scientific or taxonomic names for finfish, crustaceans, and molluscs. Consequently, importers must declare scientific names of all imported aquatic species in the commodity description field of Form CI1, Canada Customs Invoice or the commercial invoice, either electronic or paper as per the instructions in Memorandum D1-4-1, CBSA Invoice Requirements, and/or in accordance with the technical requirements, specifications and procedures for electronic data interchange (EDI) as set out in Chapter 16 of the Electronic Commerce Client Requirements Document (ECCRD). In addition to taxonomic names, importers must declare the number of aquatic animals being imported, the life stage, the countr(y)ies in which the aquatic animals were born or where the germplasm came from, and whether the animals are from captivity or the wild.

12. The Harmonized System (HS) classifications for live or dead, whole, uneviscerated carps are the same for all carp genera and species described in the Customs Tariff under HS 0301.93 (live), HS 0302.73 (dead, fresh), and HS 0303.25 (dead, frozen) [Carp (Cyprinus spp., Carassius spp., Ctenopharyngodon idella, Hypophthalmichthys spp., Cirrhinus spp., Mylopharyngodon piceus, Catla catla, Labeo spp., Osteochilus hasselti, Leptobarbus hoeveni, Megalobrama spp.)]. Some of these species, specifically live or dead, uneviscerated Asian carp – Ctenopharyngodon idella, Hypophthalmichthys spp. and Mylopharyngodon piceus) are prohibited, whereas others are permitted to be imported live or dead, uneviscerated into Canada as long as they meet CFIA import requirements – e.g., Cyprinus carpio, Common Carp. Note that one of the species under the classification for live carps, the Crucian carp or Carassius carassius, is prohibited from live possession, transportation, and release in Manitoba as per Part 2 of the Schedule in the AISR.

13. It is extremely important to provide the correct HS classification number as well as scientific name for the species being imported to allow the CBSA and other government departments to determine admissibility and specific import requirements for admissibility. Failure to provide an accurate classification and scientific name to the level of species may result in requests for further information and/or Administrative Monetary Penalty System (AMPS) penalties for untrue, inaccurate, or incomplete information (see paragraph 34).

14. If an importer realizes that the tariff classification, origin, or value for duty of the product imported has been incorrectly declared, he or she is obligated under section 32.2 of the Customs Act to make a correction to the accounting declaration. This is described in Memorandum D11-6-6, "Reason to Believe" and Self-adjustments to Declarations of Origin, Tariff Classification, and Value for Duty.

15. There are numerous aquatic species import requirements under the Health of Animals Regulations, Part XVI. As a result, the CFIA has added and updated Other Government Department (OGD) extension codes in AIRS (AIRS codes) for many aquatic species of finfish, molluscs and crustaceans. If an AIRS code for a specific species is associated with a HS code reported in an Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) message, then the scientific name reported to the CBSA on the import declaration must be the same as that reported to the CFIA via the AIRS code. In some cases, AIRS codes have not been assigned to species and importers are required to use a generic AIRS code for ‘other’ species (e.g., 904900 for fish, 900901 for invertebrates). Importers who use these generic AIRS codes must report scientific names on the import declaration to be compliant with the requirements of section 194 of the Health of Animals Regulations. Non-compliant entries could be rejected because of incomplete and inaccurate information. Furthermore, AMPS penalties can be issued for the same reasons at time of importation or post-release.

16. Importers and the public should also be aware that under the Wild Animal and Plant Protection and Regulation of International and Interprovincial Trade Act, it is illegal to import into Canada any animal or plant that was taken, possessed, distributed or transported in contravention of any law of any foreign state. For example, if a species is listed as an invasive species under a U.S. state law and transportation of that species through that state is prohibited, then it is illegal to import that species into Canada if it is transported through that state.

17. The following Web sites are sources of scientific names and information on aquatic species:

18. Importers and customs brokers and service providers can use the table below to flag their systems for prohibited species and for declaration of scientific names and TSNs for dead and eviscerated Asian carp species. The table lists current species prohibited from importation by the AISR.

Common Name Scientific Name TSN
Grass carp Ctenopharyngodon idella 163537
Bighead carp Hypophthalmichthys nobilis 163692
Silver carp Hypophthalmichthys molitrix 163691
Black carp Mylopharyngodon piceus 639618
Zebra mussel Dreissena polymorpha 81339
Quagga mussel Dreissena bugensis 567514

19. Further information concerning the release of commercial goods can be found in the Memorandum D17-1-4, Release of Commercial Goods.

The CBSA Single Window Initiative (SWI) – Integrated Import Declaration (IID)

20. The Integrated Import Declaration (IID), also referred to as service option (SO) 911, is the primary method of obtaining commercial release of regulated goods.

21.  DFO's Aquatic Invasive Species Program is covered in Appendix B4.2 of the CBSA’s Electronic Commerce Client Requirements Document (ECCRD) for the IID (Chapter 23). Genus and species name (i.e., scientific name) is one of the mandatory reporting requirements under "Commodity Characteristics" for the relevant matching HS codes. Other data requirements include quantity, life stage, sex and intended end use. The IID service option facilitates the reporting of scientific names by separating out aspects of the commodity description. The IID includes options for reporting scientific names in text form and as codes (e.g., taxonomic serial numbers or TSNs). PGA Licenses, Permits, Certificates and Other (LPCO) information can be provided on an IID, and validated by PGAs, prior to arrival of the goods. LPCO information that cannot be dematerialized into IID fields may be submitted as digital images via a parallel transmission channel called the Document Image Functionality (DIF), which is SO 927.

22. For more information on the IID, please refer to the CBSA website. Chapter 23 of the Electronic Commerce Client Requirements Document (ECCRD) provides technical and system requirements information. Appendix B of the ECCRD includes a list of required data elements for all PGAs. HS Code matching criteria tables for DFO can be found in the ECCRD and on the CBSA’s website.

Travellers, Recreational Boaters and Float Plane Pilots

23. As Zebra and Quagga mussels are prohibited entry into Canada, all boats, trailers, vehicles, and other conveyances (excluding vessels longer than 24 m, as described in paragraph 9 of this memorandum), must be free of mussels, alive or dead. There is an exemption provided for boat travel across transboundary waters already infested with Zebra and Quagga mussels in Quebec and in Ontario as follows: (a) the transboundary waters in Ontario, downstream of the bridge crossing the Pigeon River located at 48°00' 05.1" N 89°35' 06.8" W; (b) the boundary waters of the Canadian Great Lakes and connecting waterways, between the location of the bridge and the boundary between Ontario and Quebec; and (c) the boundary and transboundary waters in Quebec. Importation overland of Zebra and Quagga mussels is prohibited across Canada.

24. Travellers towing or transporting boats at all border crossings in Canada must ensure that boats and water-related equipment are free of Zebra and Quagga mussels before entering Canada. This is done by ensuring boats and equipment are cleaned of aquatic plants, animals, mud and debris; drained of water; and dry upon arrival at the border crossing. In some provinces/territories there are legal requirements pertaining to watercraft being cleaned, drained, and dry and in some cases decontaminated. It is the traveller’s responsibility to know the applicable provincial and territorial aquatic invasive species laws.

25. Recreational boaters on the water must ensure that their boats are not moving from infested waters into Canada, with the exception of those areas identified in paragraph 24, and that their boats are not infested with mussels. For information on current Zebra and Quagga mussel distribution and contaminated water bodies, consult the United States Geological Survey Map of Current Zebra and Quagga Mussel Sightings Distribution, or provincial or federal authorities (see Appendix). When reporting to the Telephone Reporting Centre (TRC) (Memorandum D2-5-12, Telephone Reporting for General Aviation and Private Boats) and moving across borders to areas other than those detailed in paragraph 24 above, boaters must take measures to ensure their boats are free of Zebra and Quagga mussels and inform the CBSA that the boats are compliant. This applies also to all CANPASS and NEXUS members, and non-compliance may result in membership suspension or cancellation. If boaters require assistance to become compliant, they must contact the relevant federal or provincial authorities (see Appendix).

26. Float planes can also harbor Zebra or Quagga mussels, or their larvae, either directly attached to the hull; on aquatic vegetation and organic debris entangled in rudders, wheels or lines; or in standing water within the floats. Therefore, float plane pilots need to make sure that their float planes have been cleaned of all aquatic vegetation and debris and attached mussels, and that the floats are completely drained and dried as much as possible before departing an infested water body (see paragraph 26 for information on infested water bodies). Similar to the requirement for boaters in paragraph 26 above, pilots calling in to the TRC must inform the CBSA that the float planes moving between freshwater bodies are compliant. If pilots require assistance to become compliant, they must contact the relevant provincial or federal authorities (see Appendix).

27. When boats, trailers, vehicles, and conveyances arriving at the border are suspected to be contaminated with mussels, enforcement authorities will be notified to inspect and/or decontaminate the equipment. The CBSA may communicate or relay directions or instructions by enforcement authorities to travellers requiring them to take their equipment to watercraft inspection stations within Canada. Watercraft inspection stations must be approved for mussel removal by DFO and/or provincial or territorial authorities. If decontamination is not operationally feasible at time of importation, travellers' equipment may be held and turned over to provincial authorities for a quarantine period, or refused entry by enforcement authorities and directed to a decontamination station in the U.S. before returning to Canada.


28. Goods and conveyances detained for non-compliance with the AISR and/or CFIA legislation will be documented on Form BSF156, Food, Plant and Animal (FPA) Interception Receipt. Under the AISR, the importer or person in possession or care and control of the goods or conveyances will be given the original copy of the receipt. The importer or person in care and control will be advised that they have 40 days in which to obtain release of the goods (48 hours if the goods are perishable); otherwise the goods will be forfeited under the Customs Act and transferred into the custody of DFO or provincial/territorial authorities. If goods are non-compliant with CFIA legislation, they will be ordered removed or seized and disposed of in accordance with the legislation that controls, regulates or prohibits the importation of the commodity.

29. In the case of commercial goods that are detained, Form K26, Notice of Detention will also be issued and the accounting package presented for release of the goods will be rejected. The Form K26 will be referenced with the cargo control document number.

30. If the commercial goods detained for non-compliance with the AISR make up only part of a shipment, they may be separated from the shipment through a Form A10, Cargo Control Abstract process. An abstract must be prepared for each portion of the shipment requiring separate acquittal. The entire quantity shown on the carrier's original cargo control document must be accounted for on multiple Cargo Control Abstracts. Separation is authorized at the discretion of the border services officer.

31. Importers will be responsible for all expenses incurred in the disposal of abandoned or forfeited goods.

Penalty Information / Seizures

32. The penalty provisions of the Fisheries Act are described in sections 78 to 79.6. DFO and designated provincial/territorial officers are responsible for the enforcement of the AISR and Fisheries Act. A violation of the AISR prohibitions (sections 6, 7, and 8) is an offence under section 78 of the Fisheries Act. An offence is punishable on summary conviction and liable, for a first offence, to a fine not exceeding one hundred thousand dollars and, for any subsequent offence, to a fine not exceeding one hundred thousand dollars or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding one year. Seizures and penalties for infractions under the Customs Act, such as smuggling and incorrect description, may also apply for goods prohibited under the AISR.

33. The Administrative Monetary Penalty System (AMPS) authorizes the CBSA to impose monetary penalties against commercial entities for non-compliance with the Customs Act, the Customs Tariff and the Regulations under these Acts, as well as contraventions of the terms and conditions of licensing agreements and undertakings. If prescribed documentation has not been presented to the CBSA with the release request, a penalty may be issued by the CBSA for not providing required permits or information, or for making false declarations, before the goods are released. AMPS penalties may also be applied post-release. Please refer to Memorandum D22-1-1, Administrative Monetary Penalty System for details.

34.  The CBSA uses the Agriculture and Agri-food Administrative Monetary Penalties (AAAMPs) regime to issue warnings or penalties to travellers for non-compliance with the CFIA's Agri-Food legislation. An AAAMP may be issued when a person has failed to present a food, plant and animal (FPA) product to an inspector or failed to import properly food, plant and animal products.

35. Boaters and fishers crossing the border should be aware that if they try to bring bait into Canada without declaring it and presenting the necessary import permit and Zoosanitary certificate, the bait will be seized and a warning or penalty under the AAAMPs regime may be applicable. In addition, each province/territory may have specific prohibitions or legislation pertaining to the importation of bait. It is the traveller’s responsibility to know the applicable provincial and territorial laws.

36. If a traveller arrives at the border with a watercraft – visibly contaminated with organic materials, such as soil, mud, plant debris, seeds, mussels, or snails – or if there is standing water in the watercraft, which can harbour microscopic mussel larvae and aquatic disease organisms, a warning or penalty under the AAAMPs regime may be applicable and the CBSA can refuse entry of the watercraft.

Additional Information

37. Contact information for the regional offices of DFO/provinces/territories as well as provincial boat inspection programs, aquatic invasive species hotlines, and general inquiries about aquatic invasive species can be found in the Appendix.

38. For more information regarding the CBSA’s programs and services, please contact the CBSA Border Information Service (BIS) line. You can access BIS toll-free throughout Canada by calling 1-800-461-9999. If you are calling from outside Canada, you can access BIS by calling 204-983-3500 or 506-636-5064 (long-distance charges will apply). To speak directly to an agent, please call during regular business hours from Monday to Friday (except holidays), 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. local time.


Provincial Watercraft Inspection Programs and Stations and Aquatic Invasive Species Hotlines and Contacts

For travellers, recreational boaters and pilots who are crossing the border and are concerned about inadvertently transporting Zebra or Quagga mussels or other aquatic invasive species, please contact the appropriate federal, provincial or territorial watercraft inspection program or AIS hotline for more information or to coordinate an inspection. For those provinces/territories that do not have watercraft inspection programs or AIS hotlines, 'general inquiry' contact information provided below provides additional information on AIS and what you can do to help stop the spread.


Issuing office
Other Government Department Programs Unit
Program & Policy Management
Commercial Program
Commercial and Trade Branch
Headquarters file
Legislative references
Aquatic Invasive Species Regulations
Fisheries Act
Canada Border Services Agency Act
Customs Act
Health of Animals Act
Health of Animals Regulations
Plant Protection Act
Plant Protection Regulations
Agriculture and Agri-food Monetary Penalties Act
Agriculture and Agri-food Monetary Penalties Regulations
Wild Animal and Plant Protection and Regulation of International and Interprovincial Trade Act
Wild Animal and Plant Trade Regulations
Ballast Water Control and Management Regulations
Canada Shipping Act
Other references
D1-4-1, D2-5-12, D2-6-7, D11-6-6, D17-1-4, D19-1-1, D19-7-1, D22-1-1
Superseded memorandum D
D19-8-5 dated March 23, 2016
Date modified: