Like most countries, Canada has strict regulations on the importation of living things, and other organic material which might potentially harbor pests, diseases, or other unwanted organisms. Even if you are only traveling for personal purposes, such as going on vacation and taking a pet with you, there are strict guidelines which must be followed.
The Basics of Entering Canada With Pets, Food, or Plants
The most important thing to know is that if you are entering Canada with pets, food, or plants – whether for personal or commercial purposes – is that they must be declared at the border. Even small amounts of material must be declared.
If you are at all uncertain, take time to ask a customs agent whether or not a particular item needs to be declared. Better safe than sorry! Being caught with non-declared items, even if by genuine mistake, can cause significant delays in your journey.
It is likely that you will have to face additional inspections, so be sure to leave additional time in your itinerary. If these items/pets are for personal use, they must be physically with you when you go through the border crossing.
Guidelines on what can and cannot be brought into Canada are extensive, covering thousands of products. If you need to look up a specific product, animal, or material, your best option is to use the Automated Import Reference System (AIRS) database. This has full listings of every product covered by Canadian importation law.
However, there are a few general rules to keep in mind:
- In most cases, food or plant items intended for personal use are limited to 20kg in gross weight, or less. This includes animal fat/suet, candies or pastries, meat products, dairy products, infant formula, and frozen or chilled vegetables.
- Rules of importation are somewhat different whether you are coming from the United States, or from other countries. Border rules are laxer for US-purchased products, and there are a wider range of products you can bring in without needing paperwork.
- If you are planning to import large amounts of meat, dairy, nuts, fruits, plants, or live animals, plan ahead. You will almost certainly need permits issued in advance, with no option to obtain them at the border.
Speak to An ARGO Customs Broker