Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) Regulations

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) regulates the importation of plant, animal, and food products.

Regulated commodities are identified in the CFIA’s Automated Import Reference System (AIRS). This automated searchable database lists the import requirements for specific commodities. If the AIRS prompts you to ‘Refer to CFIA-ISC’, this means that you must send a release request to the National Import Service Centre (NISC) prior to importation, and it must be accompanied by the documentation indicated. Each importation must have its own release request which can be presented by either the importer or the broker. The NISC will not grant release approval for regulated commodities if they have not been presented to the NISC at the first point of arrival (FPOA) in Canada.

Additional Information

AIRS database
The CFIA Request for Release (Form 5272)
NISC location, hours of operation and contact information
CFIA website 

Food Products

Since March 15, 2010, the CFIA has initiated changes to the import notification requirements to improve the availability of information for the identification and tracking of food products in the event of a food-safety issue. In a two-year phased approach, selected commodities will be added in order of priority. For information about these phases, please click here.

Goods Contaminated With Soil

The importation of items contaminated with soil is prohibited. Certain exceptions may apply to plants for planting and root crops. For more information, refer to the CFIA directive D-08-04.

Beginning February 1, 2011, items contaminated with soil (non-compliant goods) will be restricted to a Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA)-controlled area for inspection and possible on-site cleaning by a CFIA-approved wash facility. If certain conditions are not met, such as no risk of soil dislodgement or the availability of an approved wash facility, the contaminated goods will be refused entry into Canada. All costs associated with any cleaning, or the removal of the goods from Canada, will be the responsibility of the importer. For more information, refer to the CFIA directive D-95-26.

Seed Pre-Clearance

On November 25, 2011, the CFIA implemented a new pre-clearance procedure for imported seed (prior to arrival at the border providing that the Canadian import requirements have been met). The Import Conformity Assessment (ICA) process includes the review of all mandatory documents (specifically the import declaration and the seed analysis certificate). If the shipment meets the Canadian import requirements then the CFIA will issue a Notice of Import Conformity. Once this Notice is issued, the seed can be planted, repackaged, or sold in Canada. For verification purposes, a copy of this Notice must accompany the shipment at the time of arrival in Canada. For more information, visit the CFIA website.

Plant and Animal Importations

Beginning in January 2012, in addition to the detailed commodity description, the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) will require the scientific species name of each plant and/or animal (including their products or derivatives) to appear on the Commercial Invoice. For more information, please refer to the CBSA Memorandum D1-4-1