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Authorized importers: notification and documentation requirements for seed imports

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

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Updates to procedures and documents

1. Authorized importers are requested to make the following changes to their documents as they are updated:

  1. The term "release" has been changed to "clearance";
  2. The term "pre-release" has been changed to "pre-clearance";
  3. "Notice of release" changed to "Notice of Import Conformity"; and
  4. The term "SIRA (Seed Import Release Agent)" has been changed to "SICA (Seed Import Conformity Assessor)".

Note that CFIA Form "Request for notice of release (CFIA/ACIA 5272)" has been changed to "Request for document review (CFIA/ACIA 5272)"

2. A new interagency certification tag for imported certified seed is available from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA). The new tag indicates that the imported seed meets the certified seed requirements of the CFIA.

3. A frequently asked questions (FAQ) document on the use of variety names and the import and sale of unregistered varieties has been added to the CFIA's website.

Authorized seed importation procedures

1. Authorized importers must provide their authorized importer number along with the Request for document review form at the time of importation.

2. Authorized importers are required to inform their local CFIA office of the importation within 30 days of importation. They must provide the information required by subsection 40 (3) of the Seeds Regulations. This information includes the:

  1. name of the kind or species of seed - importers are encouraged to document the scientific name of the species;
  2. quantity of seed;
  3. variety name of the seed for all kinds, species and varieties subject to registration pursuant to Part III, other than common seed of forage crops;
  4. lot designation of the seed;
  5. name and address of the exporter;
  6. name and address of the importer - if there are two or more importers for a particular importation, the information needs of the CFIA will be met if any one of the importers provides the name, address and telephone number of each of them;
  7. country where the crop from which the seed is derived was grown;
  8. telephone number of the importer; and
  9. intended purposes of the imported seed.

3. Authorized importers are not required to supply CFIA with certificates of analysis or seed import conformity decisions. However, a CFIA inspector may request to review documents.

4. Authorized importers are responsible for the completion of an import conformity assessment.

  1. If the seed meets the minimum importation requirements, the seed is cleared. Authorized importer operators are required to retain a copy of the Notice of Import Conformity and supporting documentation for one year after the final disposition of the seed in the case of non-pedigreed and Certified seed and for two years after the final disposition of the seed in the case of Foundation and Registered status seed.
  2. If the seed does not meet import requirements, the authorized importer communicates with the local CFIA office to arrange for appropriate corrective action or disposal.

5. As a result of the revision of the Seeds Regulations in February 2012 and to the grade tables in Schedule I of the Seeds Regulations in November 2007, the CFIA wishes to clarify that:

  1. Graders who are accredited to grade seed of species in Tables I - VI are considered accredited to grade seed of species in Table XVIII.
  2. Individuals accredited to issue import conformity assessments on crops in Tables I - VI also may issue import conformity assessments for crops listed in table XVIII.
  3. Table XVIII applies to vegetable type beans, sweet corn, pop corn and garden peas, even when they are intended to be grown on large acreages for commercial canning, freezing and processing purposes. This clarification results from confusion over the Table header which indicates that table applies for kinds when not intended for agricultural field crop production.
  4. Plant Pest Tolerant Management (PPTM) seed blends created to manage pests should be graded, labelled and tagged.

6. Pursuant to subsection 40(5), flowers (single species) for ornamental purposes may be imported without providing the information outlined in subsections 40 (1) to 40 (4). Seed standards still apply.

Further, if single species of flowers are imported for non-ornamental purposes such as land reclamation, soil conservation, green cover, wildlife grazing, or habitat, wetland restoration and similar purposes involving large scale use then they must meet standards set out in Table XIII of the grade tables.

Authorized importers need to be aware that exemptions to providing import documentation are not exemptions to the seed quality standards set out in the Seeds Regulations.

Wildflower mixtures are not exempt from subsections 40(1) to 40(4).

7. Schedule III distinguishes certain crop types by end use. Therefore, the requirement to be of a registered variety is specific to end use for these crop types. The seed import conformity assessor (SICA) should verify the end use for a seed lot by varietal characteristics. If the variety name is not provided or the seed is non-pedigreed the SICA must confirm the end use with the importer.  The SICA must take reasonable measures to ensure that crop type distinctions by end use are valid and truthful.  The import declarations and associated documents must clearly state the end-use of the seed lot.

Examples of crop type distinctions by end use in Schedule III include:

  • Alfalfa (forage)
  • Fescues (forage)
  • Flax (oilseed)
  • Lentil (grain)
  • Oat (grain type)
  • Field pea (commodity type)
  • Rye (grain type)
  • Ryegrasses (forage type)
  • Soybean (oilseed type)
  • Timothy (forage type)
  • Tobacco (flue-cured type)
  • Triticale (grain type)

8. The CFIA intends to closely monitor the import of seed into Canada as seed can serve as a vector for weeds and potentially invasive plants. Authorized importers provide an important 'gate keeping' role in ensuring that seed from foreign origins are free of prohibited noxious weeds and meets Canada's seed standards.

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