Our Food, Plant & Animal Guide was created to give you an overview of the regulations and restrictions related to bringing these items into Canada.
Bringing Food, Plant & Animal Products into Canada
It is important to note that not all food, plant and animal products are allowed into Canada from the United States, and some that are allowed in to Canada are limited by weight or quantity
Canadian law requires travelers to declare all food, animals, plants and related products upon their return to Canada. To be safe, you should declare any items you are unsure about.
Which Products can you Bring Back to Canada?
This section is designed to give you a general overview on these products, and provide you with links to more detailed information.
The list below provides a quick reference to which products must be declared in each category. A more comprehensive list can be found at the Government of Canada website: What Products Can You Bring Into Canada?
Allowed from the United States
(Proof of origin may be required)
patties, etc.): 20 kg/person Game Animal Carcasses: With hunter’s permit Animal fat or suet: 20 kg/person
Allowed into Canada
(All items must be clean and free of pests, soil and roots)
The Automated Import Reference System (AIRS)
AIRS is a great government resource that provides you with up to date information on import requirements. The application uses a question and answer method to guide you through a series of questions about the Harmonized System (HS) Codes, origin, destination, end use and miscellaneous qualifiers of the product you wish to import.
To be sure whether you can bring a product into Canada, you should visit the Automated Import Reference System (AIRS) before traveling to the US.
For an updated list of import restrictions on food, plant and animal items to Canada from the United States, visit Import Rules and Restrictions.
For more information, call BIS at one of the telephone numbers listed in this section or visit the CBSA Web site at http://www.cbsa.gc.ca/. You can also call a CFIA Import Service Centre.
For information on Environment Canada’s import requirements, refer to the CITES Web site athttp://www.cites.ec.gc.ca/.
Common Items that must be Declared
- meat and meat products;
- cream, milk, cheese and other dairy products;
- plants, trees, cut flowers and their soil (may require an import permit);
- wood and wood products;
- fruits and vegetables (may require an import permit);
- pets, birds and other live animals (require an import permit or vaccination documentation);
- feathers and down;
- seeds and nuts; and
- baby formula.
Keep in mind that items brought into Canada need to be free of pests, soil and roots. In addition, proof of the product’s country of origin may be required.
Penalties & Free Confiscation
Failure to declare restricted and prohibited food, plant and animal goods may result in penalties of up to $400, permanent seizure of goods and in some cases, criminal prosecution.
If you are unsure about an item, ask the Border Services Officer. If you declare a prohibited item, it will be confiscated without penalty to you.
When are documents required?
Some foods, plants and animals may require permits issued in Canada in advance, and/or certificates from the country of origin.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is responsible for safeguarding Canada’s food supply, plants and animals.
Canada has import and export requirements for some 30,000 wild animals, including fish, and plant species and their products listed in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). For information regarding CITES, phone the Canadian Wildlife Service at 1-800-668-6767 or visit the CITES Web site.
For accurate and timely information on import requirements visit the Automated Import Reference System (AIRS).
Many products do not require a mandatory inspection, but if the goods you are importing need to be inspected, or if other actions are required, you may have to pay a fee.
This may apply to pets and plants you intend to bring into Canada, including dogs, birds and plants that require inspection, quarantine and shipping. Pets and plants originally from the US are often exempt from these requirements, but it is advisable to contact the Canada Border Services Agency first to confirm any import requirements and applicable fees.
You can import certain meat, dairy, vegetable and other food products from certain states in the United States. Before entering Canada with these products, contact BIS at one of the telephone numbers listed in this section, or refer to the Automated Import Reference System (AIRS) on the CFIA Web site athttp://www.inspection.gc.ca/, to ensure that you may bring these items into Canada.
There are set limits on the quantity and/or dollar value of certain food products you can bring into Canada duty-free or that you can include in your personal exemption. If you exceed your personal exemption limits, you will have to pay duty based on a rate ranging from 150% to 300% of the value of the goods.
Some examples of the limits that apply to personal importations of food from the US:
- 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, more restrictions apply as follows:
- a maximum of one whole turkey or 10 kilograms of turkey products;
- a maximum of 10 kilograms of chicken; and
- a maximum of 5 kilograms of edible meats and meat products from cattle, sheep, goat, bison and buffalo.
All meat and meat products have to be identified as products of the United States.
If you are importing houseplants from the continental United States as part of your baggage or household effects, you do not need phytosanitary certificates or import permits. However, you require permits to import orchids and cacti that are controlled by CITES. For more information, visit the CITES website.
For all other plants from the United States, you may require a phytosanitary certificate from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and an import permit from the CFIA.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) establishes import requirements for all animals and animal products entering Canada, including domestic pets.
You can also find information on import requirements using the Automated Import Reference System (AIRS) website.
You can import cats and dogs younger than three months old from the US without submitting any documentation. However, these animals must be examined by a CFIA-authorized veterinarian if they appear unhealthy.
You can import cats and dogs from the United States that are older than three months if you are accompanying the animals and provide a certificate signed and dated by a licensed veterinarian. The certificate must identify the animal by breed, age, sex, colouring and distinguishing marks. It must also show that the animal has been vaccinated against rabies within the last three years.
Border Information Services (BIS)
Phone: Toll-free in Canada: 1-800-461-9999
Outside Canada: 204-983-3500 or 506-636-5064 (long-distance charges apply)
*If you call during office hours (08:00 – 16:00) local time, you can speak directly to an agent for more specific information.
Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA)
Automated Import Reference System (AIRS)
Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA)
Phone: Eastern Canada: 1-877-493-0468
Central Canada: 1-800-835-4486
Western Canada: 1-888-732-6222
Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITIES)
Canadian Wildlife Service (CWS)