Compare to gardeners of the United States, gardeners in Canada seem to have an easier time in importing seeds from other countries. While Canada has its import regulations of seed to control and verify that seeds imported into Canada are free of prohibited noxious weeds and meet the minimum standards for purity and germination for the crop kind in question, these seed import regulations are relatively loose when comparing with those of the United States.
For shipping seeds into Canada, the importer must fill out the Import Declaration Form (CFIA/ACIA Form 4560), then sign the form and send it to the Import Service Center (ISC) that is closest to the point of entry. The Import Service Center and the Canadian Border Services Agency also require the use of a Request for Release Approval form (CFIA/ACIA Form 5272) as well as an acceptable certificate of analysis. Here is more information of the acceptable certificate of analysis.
And on top of all these, there may be additional requirements under other regulations, programs and such.
Exemptions from the Importation Requirements
Here is the good news for gardeners in Canada who are importing seeds merely for seed exchange or small purchase orders – There are exemptions from the importation requirements just mentioned. Neither the import declaration information nor the certificate of analysis need be supplied for the following seed importations.
- Where the imported seed lot is 5 kg or less for large seeded crop kinds such as peas, wheat, soybeans and corn or is 500 g or less for small seeded crop kinds such as alfalfa, tomato or canola. See here for clarification of importations with multiple small seed lots. In order to determine whether the species is “large seeded” or small seeded, please refer to Approximate number of seeds per gram in The 2009 ABCs of Seed Importation into Canada. If the species is listed as having 199 seeds or less per gram, it is considered large seeded. If the species is listed as having 200 seeds or more per gram, it is considered small seeded.
- For lots of herb seed that are 5 kg or less, or for flower seed, tree or shrub seed, true potato seed, ginseng, seeds of aquatic plants or onion/garlic multiplier sets.
Note that this exemption does not apply to wildflowers; importations of seed lots of wildflower species or mixtures that are greater than 500 grams require an import declaration and a certificate of analysis.
For further information, you can check the import regulations of seed into Canada in the official website of Canadian Food Inspection Agency.