Food, Plant and Animal Inspections

Understanding Food, Plant and Animal Regulations

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is responsible for general policy and international arrangements regarding the importation of food, plants, animals and related products (FPA) into Canada, and identifies and assesses emerging risks.

The system is a flexible and cost-effective response to violations that do not warrant costly and lengthy prosecution procedures but are serious enough to pose a risk to Canada.

The CBSA takes seriously its responsibilities for enforcing CFIA import requirements at all air, land and sea points of entry, while working closely with the CFIA to effectively manage and respond to emerging risks

Travellers can inform themselves by visiting the Government of Canada's Be Aware and Declare! Web site each time they prepare for a trip outside of Canada.

Do your part: Canadian law requires that you declare all FPA products to a border services officer at the first point of arrival in Canada.

All undeclared food, plants, animals, and related products brought into Canada by travellers are potential threats to the health of Canadians and Canada's environment. Many different kinds of items can introduce foreign threats into Canada. These include items as diverse as:

  • sausages
  • apples
  • fashion accessories, such as feather boas
  • wooden carvings
  • live birds
  • seeds
  • sea shells

Food can carry animal diseases or plant viruses, while plants and plant products can carry invasive alien species — such as insects, harmful micro-organisms, viruses, fungi and bacteria. Animals and animal products can carry serious diseases with potentially devastating effects, such as avian influenza and foot-and-mouth disease.

As a first step, travellers are strongly encouraged to research the import requirements for FPA products by using the CFIA's Automated Import Reference System (AIRS) to determine specific FPA import restrictions. AIRS can be accessed directly by visiting the CFIA's Web site.

Should further assistance be required finding or interpreting the requirements as listed in AIRS, travellers may then contact the CFIA's National Import Service Centre (NISC).

The CFIA and Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada 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. Unless you have an import permit from Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada for quantities over and above the established limits, you will have to pay duty based on a rate determined by the value of the goods. Please visit Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada's website for a complete listing of applicable duty rates.

The following are some examples of the limits that apply to personal importations of food products from the United States:

  • 2 dozen eggs;
  • 20 kilograms of dairy products not exceeding $20 in value (e.g. cheese and butter);
  • 3 kilograms of margarine or butter substitutes; and
  • 20 kilograms of edible meats and meat products, including turkey and chicken.

Within this limit on meat, the following restrictions apply:

  • a maximum of one whole turkey or 10 kilograms of turkey products;
  • a maximum of 10 kilograms of chicken; and
  • a maximum of 20 kilograms of edible meats and meat products from cattle, sheep, goats, bison and buffalo.

For more information, visit the Export and Import Controls Bureau of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada.

Certain items are also prohibited or restricted because they are subject to controls under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). CITES sets controls on the international trade and movement of animal and plant species that are or may be threatened due to excessive commercial exploitation. Full information on CITES requirements can be found on their Web site.

An additional source of importation information is the CBSA's Border Information Service (BIS) — a computerized, 24-hour telephone service that provides general border services information.

If you call during office hours (Monday to Friday, 08:00 to 16:00) local time, you can speak directly to an agent for more specific information.


Calls within Canada
Toll-free
TTY within Canada
For those with hearing or speech impairments
Calls outside Canada
Long distance charges apply

Service in English:
1-800-461-9999

Service in French:
1-800-959-2036

1-866-335-3237

Service in English:
204-983-3500
506-636-5064

Service in French:
204-983-3700
506-636-5067


Import requirements are subject to change due to emerging threats. It is recommended that all travellers consult the above information sources to verify import requirements for all food, plant and animal items.

Note: Regardless of the type of food, plant or animal product, all items must be free of pests and soil.

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