United States of America – Export requirements for fresh fruit and vegetables
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On this page
- Eligibility requirements
- Inspection requirements
- Labelling, packaging and marking requirements
- Documentation requirements
1. Eligibility requirements
- Canada is considered one of the countries that has a system of inspection recognized by the United States of America (USA) for export purposes.
- Canadian exporters are responsible to verify USA requirements in relation to food safety, grade, labelling, packaging and plant health before requesting an export certificate from the CFIA.
- The USA has two different regulatory bodies responsible for FFV import requirements, namely:
- Food and Drug Administration (FDA) – Food safety
- United States Department of Agriculture – Agricultural Marketing Service (USDA-AMS) – Grade and labelling as well as the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) – Plant health
- Canadian exporters should verify the eligibility of their FFV products in the Fruits and Vegetables Import Requirements (FAVIR) database and the Agricultural Commodity Import Requirements (ACIR) search tool prior to exporting Canadian fresh fruit and vegetables (FFV) products to USA. Most USA import restrictions on FFV products also include a phytosanitary component.
- CFIA notes that many foreign origin, or "off-continent" FFV products are prohibited to be re-exported from Canada to the USA due to significant phytosanitary risks to the FFV industry in the USA. It should be noted that, due to phytosanitary risk, all imports of non-USA origin citrus products to the USA, including re-exports from Canada, are prohibited.
- To be eligible to export FFV products to the USA, Canadian establishments who request a food export certificate, for example, for grade verification, must be federally licensed by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) under the Safe Food for Canadian Regulations (SFCR). In addition, such establishments must be licensed for the "export" activity.
- USDA-APHIS requires pre-approval of production establishments for some FFV products. Canadian exporters should consult the Fruits and Vegetables Import Requirements (FAVIR) database and Agricultural Commodity Import Requirements (ACIR) search tool to determine if establishment registration by USDA-APHIS, prior to export, is needed.
- Establishments that export tablestock potatoes to the USA have the option of becoming licensed and approved by CFIA under the Canadian Partners in Quality (C-PIQ). C-PIQ is an audit-based program that allows industry to self-issue its grade verification Export Documents. Interested exporters should refer to the C-PIQ program manual or contact their local CFIA office for more information.
- All shipments of FFV products grown and packed for the purpose of export into the USA must comply with:
- all applicable regulatory requirements such as food safety, grades, labelling, packaging, phytosanitary; and
- Canadian requirements, unless they meet the exemption in Section 16 of the SFCR.
Grade and size requirements
- Section 8e of the Agricultural Marketing Agreement Act of 1937 - PDF (248 kb) (AMAA), enforced by USDA-AMS, requires an inspection certificate for tablestock potatoes, onions, and field tomatoes exported into the USA.
- The grade and size requirements are in effect for:
- tablestock potatoes and onions all year round; and
- field tomatoes from October 10 to June 15
Note: Some types of potatoes and onions are excluded (i.e. exempt) from the marketing order in Section 8e of the Agricultural Marketing Agreement Act of 1937 - PDF (248 kb) (AMAA). Exemptions also exist based on the end use of the product in the USA. For more information, please refer to the USDA-AMS website Section 8e and Imports (English only).
- In order for tablestock potatoes, onions, and field tomatoes to be exported to the United States, USDA-AMS requires prior notice, through the USA Customs and Border Protection's (CBP) Automated Commercial Environment (ACE). With the implementation of the new electronic filing requirement in the USA on September 2, 2020, shipments which do not have the CFIA export certificate pre-filed in the ACE are directed automatically to grade verification at destination in the U.S. by the United States Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS). Although ACE is a relatively new system, the Section 8e grade requirements for export certification of Canadian onions, potatoes, and field tomatoes have been in place for decades. All three products, when exported to the USA, require grade verification either in Canada or upon arrival in the USA.
2. Inspection requirements
Section 8e of the Agricultural Marketing Agreement Act
Section 8e of the Agricultural Marketing Agreement Act of 1937 - PDF (248 kb) (AMAA) applies to specific fruit, vegetable, and specialty crop exported into the United States. The AMAA requires products exported into the United States to meet the same or comparable grade, size, quality and maturity standards as domestic products covered by Federal marketing orders. The Marketing Order and Agreement Division (MOAD), in USDA-AMS enforces the Federal marketing orders for fruits, vegetables, and specialty crops, as well as compliance with import regulations.
The list of all commodities covered by marketing orders may be referred to at the Fruits & Vegetables page maintained by USDA-AMS.
All commodities subject to Section 8e of the AMAA must be presented for inspection to USDA-AMS or its Federal-State partners as separate lots that correspond to each individual Customs Entry Number. This requirement aligns the practices in all ports of entry in the USA, and will help USDA-AMS expedite its review and release of shipments from a "Hold Intact" status to a "May Proceed" status, allowing product movement to market in a speedy and efficient manner.
Exemptions to Section 8e
Exemptions to requirements in Section 8e only apply to fruits, vegetables and specialty crops exported into the United States that are destined for processing, animal feed, charity relief, certified seeds, government agencies, or other exempt outlets. It is vital that Canadian exporters review the requirements for each commodity before attempting to export under an exemption because not all exempted end uses apply to all products.
One significant type of exemption is "for processing". In most cases, processing includes canning, freezing, juice, dehydration, chips, shoestrings, starching, flouring, pickling or the application of heat or cold to such an extent that the natural form or stability of the commodity undergoes a substantial change. Peeling, cooling, slicing, dicing or applying material to prevent oxidation does not constitute processing.
All lots of commodities being exported for processing or other exempt use must be accompanied by the electronic filing of a properly executed SC-6 certificate. The SC-6 exemption form must now be filed through the Compliance and Enforcement Management System (CEMS). Canadian exporters should refer to the following links for directions on how to register and create an account in CEMS and instructions on filing a SC-6 Certificate.
Notifying CFIA prior to export
- Exporters wishing to request grade verification inspection and certification for potatoes, onions and/or tomatoes intended for export into the USA must notify their local CFIA office in advance of when the product is intended to be exported. This allows CFIA to effectively manage its resources and arrange for the inspection. For more information, please refer to the Operational procedure: Issuing an export certificate for fresh fruits and vegetables.
- If a Canadian exporter would like to request a phytosanitary certificate from CFIA, they must first determine the phytosanitary requirements of the USA that must be met.
Grade verification by CFIA
- Tablestock potatoes, onions and field tomatoes exported into the USA can be inspected and certified in Canada instead of the USA with an E3 export certificate.
- If the FFV product meets the grade requirements, an E3 is generated using CFIA's Multi Commodity Activity Program (MCAP). The E3 is then printed and signed by the inspector. For more information on how CFIA issues grade certificates for FFV, please refer to the Operational Procedure: Fresh Fruit and Vegetables Product Inspection.
Grade verification at C-PIQ establishments
- Establishments registered under the CFIA's CPIQ program perform grade verifications and issue Export Documents for their own products intended for export to the United States. (currently exists for potatoes only, however there is a pilot program for onions for the 2021-2022 shipping season)
- Please go to the following link to find the Canadian Partners in Quality (C-PIQ) List RDIMS 3197777 (internal access only)
Re-inspection of products at entry
- All shipments of FFV products exported into the USA may be subject to re-inspection in the USA at an official import inspection establishment or at an alternative inspection location authorized at the time of importation.
Canadian product returning from the United States
- FFV products exported to the USA from Canada may be intended for:
- raw consumption;
- further processing; or
- use in the food system.
- FFV product may be rejected and returned to Canada for the following reasons:
- missing, incomplete and/or incorrect paperwork;
- the exporter is not eligible to export into the USA (if an eligibility list exists for that particular FFV product); or
- failing to comply with USA regulatory requirements based on inspection or product testing
Note: Canadian exporters should notify the CFIA of the returning product and the reason it was refused. The exporter is responsible to arrange for the return of the product.
3. Labelling, packaging and marking requirements
- FFV products must meet all applicable labelling, packaging and marking criteria requirements in the USA.
- Canadian exporters are encouraged to work closely with their USA importers to ensure compliance.
- Shipping marks are used to associate a product with a Canadian certificate and may be required by USA regulatory bodies.
- The lot identification may need to be provided in the appropriate field of the export certificate or in the comments/remarks section of the certificate if a specific field does not exist on the certificate.
4. Documentation requirements
Food Safety/Human Health/Sanitary Certificate
- Not required.
Grade Verification Export Certificate
- An E3 export certificate or a C-PIQ Export Document is required year round for tablestock potatoes and onions.
- An E3 export certificate is required for field tomatoes from October 10 through June 15 of each year.
- For FFV products originating from Canada, a CFIA-issued phytosanitary certificate may be an export option to meet USA plant health requirements.
- For re-exports of non-Canadian origin FFV products into the USA, Canadian exporters should consult the Fruits and Vegetables Import Requirements (FAVIR) database and Agricultural Commodity Import Requirements (ACIR) search tool published by USDA-APHIS. Many foreign origin FFV products will be prohibited entry by the USA. A phytosanitary certificate or a Canadian phytosanitary certificate of re-export may be required.
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