Request to Import a New Commodity or Import from a New Country of Origin
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October 27, 2023
This policy is currently under review and is subject to change.
- How to submit a request
The Animal Import/Export Division (AIED) of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is responsible for the decision to allow or prohibit the importation of terrestrial animals, animal germplasm, and animal-sourced products/by-products; aquatic animals, gametes, germplasm and/or aquatic products/offal etc. into Canada. This is due to the potential risk to animal, human and environmental health associated with the importation of these commodities. The AIED establishes specific import conditions to reduce the risk and the commodity to be imported must meet these conditions before importation can be permitted.
Established import conditions are listed by commodity in the CFIA's Automated Import Reference System (AIRS).
There are also import policies for terrestrial animals, animal germplasm and animal-sourced products and by-products.
For aquatic animal health: Aquatic animal imports
To establish commodity specific import conditions, evaluations have been carried out by the CFIA to determine the risk associated with importation, by commodity and by country of origin. Any commodity or country of origin for which there are no established import conditions must first be evaluated by the AIED to determine if importation can be permitted, and, if so, under what specific import conditions.
An evaluation of a new commodity or country of origin does not guarantee that import conditions will be developed. Importation will not be permitted if there is an unacceptable level of risk and/or appropriate risk mitigation measures cannot be established. Upon a request to evaluate a new commodity or country of origin, the CFIA will carry out an evaluation of current science and feasible mitigation measures based on the specifics of the request.
Two of the principal tools used in the evaluation of a request are a country evaluation and hazard identification:
- country evaluations provide the CFIA with information on the country of origin (or export) such as the current status for diseases of concern which have been identified as hazards for the commodity in question, as well as information on the country's veterinary infrastructure, import controls, disease reporting, surveillance procedures, quarantine and control measures, etc.
- hazard identification identifies the diseases of concern and other risks associated with a specific commodity
Requestors must submit a CFIA Application for Permit to Import as well as a letter to the CFIA requesting to allow importation of a new commodity or from a new country of origin. The letter of request must include the following details:
- any relevant background information
- proposed country of origin
- a full description of the commodity
- the volume, quantity, frequency and time-frames of the proposed importation(s)
- any additional information that may be helpful to the evaluation
The CFIA will review the request to determine the level of evaluation required and the applicable fees. Approximately 3 to 5 weeks after receipt of the letter of request, the client will be provided with a response that indicates which 1 of the following 3 processes are required to proceed with your request and the associated fees:
- Request denied based on an already established unacceptable level of risk
For example live cattle and swine from countries or zones not recognized by Canada to be free of Foot and Mouth Disease. Live cattle from countries not considered by Canada to be of acceptable risk for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE).
- Evaluation to be conducted within the AIED
The veterinary officer assigned to the file has enough information regarding the hazards associated with the commodity and the country of origin (or export) has previously been evaluated. There is sufficient information to determine the risks associated with importation, the level of risk has been determined to be acceptable and risk mitigating measures can be applied. For example, CFIA currently has a hazard table for in vivo bovine embryos and have sufficient knowledge of the veterinary infrastructure of Spain. Spain is also a member of the World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH; founded as Office International des Épizooties (OIE)) and reports regularly on their animal health status for reportable diseases.
- Evaluation requiring scientific support from the Animal Health Risk Assessment and Intelligence (AHRAI) unit
A risk assessment (full, partial, hazard identification, country evaluation, and/or disease status evaluation, scientific evaluation including literature review) is required. The request will be submitted to the National Manager of the AHRAI and assigned to a Veterinary Analyst within the AHRAI.
AHRAI evaluations can take anywhere from 6 months to more than a year to complete, depending on the complexity of the file. An evaluation may take longer depending on the volume and priority of other requests received. The requestor will be provided with an estimated time of completion of the risk assessment within 4 weeks of the formal request to AHRAI. The requestor will then need to confirm if he/she wishes to proceed with the evaluation.
The authority to charge fees is found within the CFIA Fees Notice. The fees for import permit applications can be found under Part 11 – Health of Animals Fees. Item 1 (previously Class 1) fees for the consideration of an import permit application.
In addition to Item 1 fees, either Item 2(1)(a) (previously Class 2) or Item 2(1)(b) (previously Class 3) fees will be charged for the evaluation depending on the request.
Fees must be paid before the evaluation is initiated.
Additional fees may apply as part of the application and evaluation processes.
If it is determined by the CFIA that a visit to the country of origin (or export) is required to complete the evaluation, the expenses associated with the travel of all CFIA employee(s) necessary to carry out the evaluation will be the responsibility of the requestor.
The number of employees required, time of travel and estimated total costs will be communicated to the requestor prior to any work or departure of CFIA employees. The requestor will be required to sign an agreement with the CFIA and pay the estimated costs in full prior to departure of CFIA employees. Upon completion of the evaluation, if the cost of the work is less than the estimate, any surplus will be refunded to the requestor. If costs incurred are greater than the estimate, the requestor will be required to pay the outstanding balance prior to the release of any reports.
If the evaluation determines that import conditions can be established, additional fees will be imposed for the issuance of an import permit for 2 years from the date the new import conditions are implemented.
How to submit a request
Requests to initiate an evaluation should be submitted through My CFIA.
Once you have your information ready, you can upload your completed CFIA Application for Permit to Import, letter of request and any supporting documents into your My CFIA account.
Disease outbreaks or other emerging hazards in a country of origin may lead to temporary suspension of some or all imports of a particular commodity (based on risk), whether the import conditions are long established or new.
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