Imported seed advisory for non-authorized importers
It is important to follow the requirements for importing seed under the Seeds Regulations. The information provided applies to importers who are not authorized under Part IV of the Seeds Regulations.
Requirement to keep foreign seed separate and intact
The Seeds Regulations state:
"Seed must be kept separate and intact in the original package(s) until a notice of import conformity has been issued by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, indicating that the seed meets the requirements of the Seeds Regulations."
Using the seed before CFIA approval is a violation of the Seeds Regulations and may result in enforcement, up to including prosecution.
Requirements of the Plant Protection Act and regulations and other acts and regulations are not addressed here that may apply to your import.
How to import seed into Canada
Step 1. Refer to the ABC's of seed Importation into Canada and the Automated Import Reference System for requirements and harmonized system (HS) codes.
Step 2. Submit all required information at the time of import:
- Import Declaration form (CFIA/ACIA 4560)
- Request for Documentation Review (CFIA/ACIA 5272)
- Seed analysis certificate
- Notice of import conformity (for pre-clearance only)
Note: Refer to the ABC's of seed Importation into Canada (Section L) for a list of exemptions from the required import documentation.
Step 3. The Canadian Border Services Agency assigns a transaction number. Submitted documentation is accounted for by the National Import Service Center (NISC).
- If all paperwork is submitted correctly, seed moves to location
Note: foreign seed has not yet been cleared for use in Canada and must remain separate and intact.
Step 4: The CFIA's Import Conformity Assessment (ICA) office assesses documentation to confirm seed conformity. Seed must meet minimum import requirements for purity and germination. Information required for assessment:
- The name of the crop kind or species of seed being imported (importers are strongly encouraged to provide both the common name and the scientific name of the species or crop kind being imported)
- The weight of seed being imported
- The lot designation of the seed which must be included on the seed analysis certificate (SAC) and import declaration form
- The name and address of the exporter
- The name, telephone number, address of the importer
- The importers' fax number or email address
- The variety name of seed for all kinds, species and varieties referred to in the Seed Regulations Schedule III; other than common seed of forage species
- The country where the crop from which the seed is derived was grown
- The intended purpose of the imported seed (sale, own use-seeding by the importer), research, conditioning, sale pursuant to subsection 5(4) of the Seeds Regulations)
- Seed analysis certificate showing the seed complies with the standards set out in the Seeds Regulations (freedom from prohibited noxious weed seeds, minimum purity standards and acceptable germination percentages)
Step 5: The ICA office issues a letter of conformity to the importer.
- Notice of conformity clears the seed
- Notice of non-conformity means follow up action is required by the importer
Step 6: Seed is cleared and approved for end use in Canada.
To avoid common errors that delay the clearance of imported seed or could prevent the use of seed entirely, ensure the following is completed:
- The unique lot designation appears on all import documents (such as the invoice, import declaration form, seed analysis certificate)
- The unique lot designation on the seed analysis certificate represents and corresponds to the lot designation of the seed being imported
- The information on the seed analysis certificate meets Canadian Standards (in other words, Canadian Weed Seeds Order, correct purity analysis weights)
- Imports of crop types listed in Schedule III of the Seeds Regulations are of a registered variety
- Unregistered varieties cannot be imported except for limited purposes specified in the Regulations
- The end use of the seed is clearly stated (that is, sale, own use (seeding by the importer), research, conditioning, sale under section 5(4) of the Seed Regulations)
For more details on what is an acceptable certificate of analysis and other seed import requirements, please refer to the ABC's of seed Importation into Canada.
General import inquiries should be sent to your local CFIA office.
For questions on the clearance of a specific shipment, contact the Import Conformity Assessment (ICA) office at ICA-VCI@inspection.gc.ca.
For questions regarding this advisory, contact the Seed Section at SeedSemence@inspection.gc.ca.
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