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Bringing food, plant and animal products into Canada

Notice: As of stricter measures will be in place for elephant tusk (ivory) and rhinoceros horn parts or products moving across the Canadian border. New permit requirements will impact both raw items (including hunting trophies) and worked personal and household effects. For more information, please refer to Import and export of elephant tusk (ivory) and rhinoceros horn.

Working closely with a number of other government departments and agencies, the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) administers and enforces policies on bringing food, plants, animals and related products to Canada, to the extent that they apply at the border. This section offers resources and information for travellers on what to expect at the border.

Protect our ecosystems

Importing a single piece of fruit or meat into Canada can be harmful to our ecosystems. Various food, plant and animal products are restricted or prohibited entry because they can harbour invasive species, foreign animal diseases and plant pests.

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
  • bait for recreational fishing
  • firewood
  • plant cuttings, seeds, bulbs
  • soiled hiking boots

Visit Bringing food into Canada for personal use, Travelling with pets, food or plants and the Maximum Quantity Limits for Personal Use Exemption for more information.

Verify requirements before you travel

Some regulated commodities require certain documents or registrations before they will be allowed into Canada. Before crossing the border with food, plant or animal products, use the Canadian Food Inspection Agency's Automated Import Reference System (AIRS).

Restrictions on what items you are allowed to bring into Canada depend on the product, country of origin and province of import. These controls are set up to help keep Canada's animals, plants and natural habitats healthy and safe. Restrictions may be adjusted at any time due to emerging threats.

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 Species List, may be prohibited for export by various countries.

Global Affairs Canada (GAC) has 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. For more information on GAC limits, see Memorandum D19-10-2, Export and Import Permits Act (Importations).

Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) also prohibits the importation of certain aquatic invasive species. 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.

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

More information

Canada's ecosystems: How you can help

  1. Verify the import requirements for any food, plant and animal products that you plan to bring into Canada
  2. 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 that you are bringing into Canada
  3. Clean all soil and organic debris off of any items including hiking boots, vehicles, boats and gardening and construction tools/equipment
  4. Always declare your food, plant and animal items to the CBSA when entering Canada, whether they are regulated or not. If you are unsure about an item, ask a border officer
  5. Complete the areas of your Customs Declaration Card regarding farm visits
  6. 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

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