How To Import Produce Into Canada

Your how to guide on produce imports into Canada

As some fruits and vegetables may contain pests that could be harmful to the Canadian environment, produce is regulated by specific measures based on its geographical origin and destination. When importing produce into Canada, you must know what government parties are involved, what regulations must be followed, and the fundamental aspects of produce imports.

Parties Involved:

  • Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA)
  • Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA)
  • National Plant Protection Organization (NPPO) of the exporting country
  • Customs Broker
  • Carrier

Main Regulations:

Import Fundamentals:

  • You will be acting as the Importer of Record. Therefore, you are the party ultimately responsible for the accuracy and completeness of the import declaration; as well as, the payment of applicable duties and taxes into Canada
  • Duty and tax must be paid upon importation into Canada.
  • The rate of duty is determined by the tariff of the commodity being imported, the value of the goods and, the origin of the goods.
  • Certain import documentation is required to be presented to the border services officer at the port of entry.
  • Your import may be subject to a customs review, inspection or audit prior to, or after the importation. Additional fees may be levied by the Government of Canada for these services.
  • You are required to keep your import records for six years following the date of import and can be audited by Customs at any point during this time.

FAQ: Produce Imports

What Specific Grade Standards Apply To Produce Imports?
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To find the specific grade standards that apply to produce imports visit the Import and Interprovincial Requirements for Fresh Fruit and Vegetables page on the CFIA website. In here you will find an overview of the federal requirements of the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Regulations and the Licensing and Arbitration Regulations for the import and interprovincial marketing of fresh fruit and vegetables.
Is My Produce Eligible For Import Into Canada?
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Certain commodities from certain countries or regions are prohibited entry, such as crab apples from Brazil or strawberries from China. The CFIA Automated Import Reference System (AIRS) is a handy interactive tool that allows importers to check the admissibility of a wide variety of products.

In order to confirm the import regulations you will need to know: the species of the produce, the state it is in (fresh, dried, packaged or not), the country in which it was grown (for the US, the specific state will be needed) and the destination in Canada.

Visit the CFIA AIRS site for more information.

Alternatively, you can consult the Plant Protection Directives to learn of the supporting regulations of the AIRS import requirements for the type of produce you would like to import.

What Is The Safe Food For Canadians Act?
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The Safe Food for Canadians Act was introduced by the Canadian Government in 2012. The Act is meant to protect Canadian citizens by making food safe to eat. It does this by requiring all food entering Canada to meet its standards for safe food practices, increases control over food imports, makes food more traceable throughout Canada, toughens penalties for unsafe practices and increases inspection.

If you import food into Canada you will most likely be required to obtain a Safe Food for Canadians Import License.

Do I Need An Import License To Import Produce Into Canada?
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Most companies providing food to Canadians will require a food import license under the Safe Food for Canadians Act. The CFIA has created this handy tool to determine if your business requires a food import license.

What Is A DRC Number?
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A DRC number is a company’s membership number to the Fruit and Vegetables Dispute Resolution Corporation (DRC), which is an organization of members serving produce traders. For you to import fruits and vegetables into Canada, the Safe Food for Canadians Act requires you to become a member of the DRC and obtain a DRC membership number.

What Are The Labelling And Packaging Regulations Of Produce Imported Into Canada?
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The labelling and packaging regulations of produce imported into Canada includes labelling your products in both english and french, listing the common name for the produce, and the packaging is predetermined. Fruits and vegetables are subject to strict labelling and packaging regulations so we encourage you to visit the Labelling Guide for Fresh Fruit and Vegetables for more information.

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