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Importing and handling live snails for commercial or personal purposes

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) regulates the import and handling of live terrestrial snails under the Plant Protection Act because of their potential to harm the Canadian economy and environment.

Snails may destroy vegetable and fruit crops, as well as impact operations and spaces such as nurseries, greenhouses, parks, and gardens. Some snails reproduce quickly which makes them difficult to contain.

Because the degree of threats to plants by snails vary across snail species, the CFIA's plant health requirements are specific to the species of snail. While certain snails may only be imported for special purposes (for example, for research or exhibition) and be contained, other snails may be allowed for commercial or personal purposes (for example, for snail farming or for use as pets).

The CFIA regulates certain terrestrial snails as quarantine pests for Canada. These pests are listed on the CFIA's List of Pests Regulated by Canada. The import or handling of the listed snails for commercial or personal use is prohibited. This applies to snails belonging to: Achatina achatina, Achatina (or Lissachatina) fulica, Archachatina degneri, A. purpurea, A. ventricosa, Cornu aspersum, Helix spp. and Theba pisanaFootnote * Snails commonly known as giant African land snails or giant African snails are included within this list.

The import or handling for commercial or personal purposes may be allowed for snails not listed on the CFIA's List of Pests Regulated by Canada, provided that the snails:

  1. are collected from the natural environment in Canada and are not recorded for the first time in Canada
  2. belong to either Cepea nemoralis, Otala lactea or O. vermiculata, and are imported under a permit issued under the Plant Protection Act
  3. belong to a species of aquatic snails which do not require a permit to import under the Plant Protection Act

You must apply to the CFIA for permission to import or handle all other snails.

The above information concerns only requirements under the Plant Protection Act. Other requirements may apply depending on the end use of the imported snails. For example, if snails are being imported as a food, requirements under the CFIA's Safe Food for Canadians Regulations may also apply.

For additional information on plant protection or other CFIA requirements that apply to the intentional import and handling of snails, please contact your local CFIA inspection office.

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