Language selection


Chapter 4 - Exports
4.1 Export veterinary certification (updated May 2019)

This page is part of the Guidance Document Repository (GDR).

Looking for related documents?
Search for related documents in the Guidance Document Repository

Objectives of certification

1. The objective of the CFIA's Animal Health Export Program is to ensure that only healthy animals and animal products and by-products that meet the import health requirements of an importing country are exported from Canada and, in the case of live animals, that they are transported in a humane manner.

2. Canadian animals, animal products and animal by-products are recognized around the world on the basis of the Canadian veterinary profession's reputation and integrity, and its performance in disease control and eradication. Accredited veterinarians are an integral component of the CFIA's National Animal Health Program and must ensure that the delivery of the Animal Health Export Program is consistent.

Legislative basis

3. Under section 69 of the Health of Animals Regulations:

(1) Subject to this part, no person shall export out of Canada livestock, poultry, animal embryos or animal semen unless:

  1. the person has obtained a certificate of a veterinary inspector or a certificate of an accredited veterinarian endorsed by a veterinary inspector issued before shipment that clearly identifies the livestock, poultry, animal embryos or animal semen and shows:
    • that a veterinary inspector or an accredited veterinarian has inspected the livestock, poultry, animal embryos or animal semen and found it to be free from any communicable diseases;
    • the date and place of inspection; and,
    • where tests have been performed, the nature of each test and that the livestock, poultry, animal embryos or animal semen proved negative to such tests; and,
  2. the importation requirements of the country to which the livestock, poultry, animal embryos or animal semen are exported have been complied with.

(1.1) Paragraph (1)(a) does not apply in respect of swine or ruminants exported to the U.S. for immediate slaughter.
Note: This article is under revision.

(2) No person shall export animal semen out of Canada unless the semen, from the time it was collected, was stored in an animal semen production centre or other place approved by the Minister.

(3) No person shall export livestock, poultry, animal embryos or animal semen unless the certificate referred to in subsection (1) bears the mark of the official export stamp referred to in subsection (4).

(4) The official export stamp required by this section shall contain the words "Government of Canada - CANADIAN FOOD INSPECTION AGENCY - Gouvernement du Canada - AGENCE CANADIENNE D'INSPECTION DES ALIMENTS" and it shall be applied on a certificate only by a veterinary inspector or a person authorized by one.

Legal basis

4. The Accredited Veterinarian Agreement is the legal instrument that authorizes licenced private veterinarians to perform duties such as the completion of international health certification under the authority of Health of Animals Regulations.

Obligations of the accredited veterinarian

5. Accredited veterinarians should ensure that they meet the highest possible ethical standards in the performance of procedures and in signing documents. Certifying accredited veterinarians must ensure that the information included in the certificates is accurate and only refers to matters that are within their knowledge at the time of signing, or that have been verified by a qualified third party, such as test results.

6. When a certificate is signed on the basis of supporting documentation, the certifying veterinarian should be in possession of that documentation before signing. The certifying accredited veterinarian should only sign certificates required once they have been completed correctly in full. It is inappropriate and considered a contravention of the Accredited Veterinarian Agreement for veterinarians to sign documents on the basis of information or events that have not yet occurred or to sign blank documents.

7. Accredited veterinarians must perform their duties with all due care and accuracy to maintain the credibility of Canada's inspection and certification mechanisms and to avoid inconvenience or expense to their clients as a result of having animals refused entry by the importing country.

8. When inspecting, testing or certifying animals for export, accredited veterinarians are required to:

  1. Identify the animal(s) and verify that both the animal(s) and the herd(s) meet the export requirements specified on the certificate.

    Note:  Confidence by an accredited veterinarian in animal identification records that were produced by an exporter or another party is not sufficient by itself in meeting an animal export identification requirement.

    Where an accredited veterinarian has not personally determined the identification of animals inspected for export, the accredited veterinarian must establish and maintain evidence to demonstrate and defend under audit or independent examination how it is known that animals certified for export are the same animals that were inspected. The following conditions apply to animal identification in these circumstances:

    • A written protocol for inspections where individual identification is not completed must be provided to the local CFIA District Veterinarian and approved by that individual prior to use.
    • Exports certified this way are only endorsed within the District where the approval was made.
    • Identifying cattle in this manner may only be used for slaughter animals two years of age and under, as age determination requirements in mature cattle preclude this procedure being used.
    • Since this procedure is built on trust and credibility, it cannot be used where the exporter has been subject to recent CFIA administrative monetary penalties or CFIA prosecutions.
  2. Inspect the animal(s) and certify them free from any communicable disease in accordance with the Health of Animals Regulations and any terms and conditions established by the importing country. The herd of origin must also be free from any communicable disease. Where testing is required, the type and results of the test(s) must be recorded on the export certificate along with the date and place of inspection. From time to time, countries modify their terms and conditions of import. Accredited veterinarians are notified of any such changes. It is the responsibility of the accredited veterinarians to avail themselves of the necessary information and ensure that the conditions are met.
  3. Inform owners/exporters that, in some instances, import conditions above and beyond those required to enter the country may exist. For example, in the U.S. certain states have established conditions that are more stringent than those of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Another example is the Mexican "hoja de requisitos" (i.e., a list of requirements to be met and statements to be included on the International Sanitary Certificate). It is the responsibility of exporters to determine whether additional requirements exist, and to ensure that all conditions of import of the importing country are met.
  4. Ensure that export health certificates are fully completed in English, accurate, and endorsed by a CFIA veterinary inspector. No erasure is allowed except when required. If the certificate mentions to delete, strike out, remove or invalidate a non-applicable option, a line must be made on the non-applicable text without hiding its contents, and the paragraph must be initialed.
  5. If accredited veterinarians cannot personally deliver the export health certificate, the completed certificate must be sealed in an envelope for endorsement by the CFIA veterinary inspector.
  6. Use blue ink to sign export certificates. The name of the accredited veterinarian must appear in printed letters.
  7. When exporting animals without individual identification (if permitted by the importing country), the exporter must be advised that he/she may not export more animals than the number indicated on the certificate.

9. All animals must be certified fit for transport and meet all requirements of the reporting country.

10. The following conditions may cause animals to be refused entry by the importing country. Accredited veterinarians must look for clinical evidence of these conditions during the physical examination of the animals.

11. Export certification requires veterinary inspection. The signing veterinarian must have carried out the inspection. This task cannot be delegated to a technician or other veterinarian, whether accredited or not, unless otherwise specified in the manual. Some specimen collection may be performed by a fully trained and qualified technician (see 1.4 Special Provisions).

12. According to CFIA policy, only those conditions established by the importing country are certified. Tests other than those required to meet the import requirements do not constitute part of the official certification and are not to appear on the export health certificate; however, the results of such tests may be attached to the export documents.

13. Accredited veterinarians must be specifically authorized to inspect, test and certify a species of animal for export to the U.S. or Mexico. Inspections must always be conducted in accordance with the terms and conditions of their accreditation agreement. The animals must be eligible and fully meet all conditions established by the USDA or SAGARPA for their entry into the U.S. or Mexico.

14. A copy of the export certificate issued by the accredited veterinarian must be retained for a minimum of three years. The accredited veterinarian must be able to submit a copy to the district office upon request.

Export problems

15. If the accredited veterinarian is contacted by the importer or the competent authorities of the importing country regarding an issue related to the certification or testing of animals for export, the accredited veterinarian must immediately notify the local district office. The local district office will provide appropriate instructions to the accredited veterinarian regarding the possible resolution of the problem and the official channels that must be followed in these situations.

16. Export certificates are available from the district office. It is possible to check online for the most recent date of amendment of the certificate and thus check that the version used is in fact valid. The list of valid export certificates is available on the CFIA Web site.

Date modified: