Travellers' guide: Tips for avoiding problems at the border when bringing food, plant and animals into Canada

Are you gearing up for your next adventure but feeling uncertain about Canada's regulations for bringing in food, plants, animals and animal by-products? Whether you are returning to Canada or doing a quick cross-border shopping trip, this article will provide you with valuable tips so that you can breeze through customs with confidence.

Travelling with food

Before bringing food into Canada, it's vital to understand the import requirements and restrictions. Restrictions vary depending on the item and the country from which it originates.

Before your trip, verify whether the item is allowed and under what specific conditions. Check what you can bring into Canada for personal use.

Remember to declare all food products you are bringing into Canada.

Travelling with plant(s) and plant products

Before you pack plants, seeds, or other plant material for your return to Canada, ensure they are not a regulated pest or invasive species. These should not be brought into Canada since they can spread in agricultural and natural areas causing damage to Canada's economy and environment.

Biosecurity at the border is key in protecting plant health abroad and at home. Remember to declare all plant products, including seeds, when you arrive in Canada. Consult the seeds identification page for more information. Some seeds or other plant materials brought back from foreign countries may actually be classified as invasive species in Canada.

Travelling with animal(s), animal products and by-products

Travelling with a pet or importing an animal to Canada requires the right paperwork to meet import requirements. Different import rules apply to different pets and circumstances. Find out what you need to do when bringing animals to Canada.

Canada's animal import requirements are in place to protect people and animals from the introduction of foreign diseases. Some foreign animal diseases, such as rabies, can be transmitted to humans.

In addition to meeting import requirements, all animals must be kept safe from harm and injury when they are travelling by land, air or sea. Ensure their safety by following the CFIA's tips on transporting pets. Be mindful that failure to comply with the requirements may result in border delays or your animal not being allowed into the country.

African swine fever (ASF)

Don't pack pork in your luggage. This includes fresh, frozen, processed and cooked pork. Do your part in preventing the introduction of foreign animal diseases like African swine fever (ASF). Pigs are at risk of infection if those pork products end up on a farm where pigs could be fed pork or if wild pigs have access to pork from landfills and then spread ASF to farmed pigs.

ASF is not a food safety concern, but it is contagious and deadly for pigs. Its introduction to Canada would devastate our pork industry.

Travellers: Don't be a carrier of ASF. Take precautions when visiting farms outside of Canada; wash or dispose of all clothing and footwear worn while visiting a farm abroad. When returning to Canada, declare all farm visits and animal contact at the border.

Highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI)

Do your part in preventing the introduction of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) (also known as avian influenza or bird flu) into Canada by following import restrictions on poultry products from the U.S.

If travelling from a country experiencing an avian influenza outbreak, take appropriate measures. Remember to declare all farm visits at the border when you return.

Still have questions after consulting the links and resources provided?

Contact us or consult the Canada Border Service Agency's (CBSA) website for more travel-related resources.

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