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Obtaining Plant Import Permits

By Forrest Scharf, PAg, Provincial Specialist, Fruit Crops

Apple and pear rootstock project
Apple and Pear Rootstock project,
Canada-Saskatchewan Irrigation
Diversification Centre, Outlook SK,

I recently tried to purchase a number of varieties of dwarfing apple and pear rootstock. It wasn’t as straight-forward as had been anticipated.

There are a number of different plant nurseries across Canada that have retired from the business, and others that have revised their business structures so they no longer sell rootstock. The lack of easily accessible supply in Canada, led me to try to purchase stock from New York State. Unfortunately, this was not possible because the businesses did not have the necessary certification to enable export into Canada. Luckily, I was able to find a nursery in Oregon that had the necessary certification.

Nevertheless, before the nursery could send plants to Canada, the importer needed to receive permits issued to me from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA). Canadian Food Inspection Agency has an online site that makes it easy to submit online requests for import permits which are regulated under the Plant Protection Act.

Most imports of plants and plant products require a permit to import plants and other things under the Plant Protection Act (CFIA/ACIA 5256). Previously, an application for this import permission (Form 5256) had to be emailed, faxed or mailed to the CFIA's Centre of Administration. Now, anyone who needs the import permission can request it online using My CFIA, the agency’s online service portal.

By signing up for a My CFIA account, account holders can submit service requests for the import permits they need as well as a growing number of CFIA services. My CFIA website allows clients to:

  • Submit applications digitally and securely from anywhere in the world (at any time);
  • Track the status of applications;
  • Pay required fees online, at any time;
  • Receive email notifications and reminders about expiring permissions, to ensure that they are renewed on time; and
  • Receive issued permissions online.

All My CFIA related guidance, such as videos, step-by-step walkthroughs and general information on how to sign up an account, structure a profile, request service and pay for services can also be accessed on their website.

More services are being added to the My CFIA system. In the near future, plant exporters will be able to request phytosanitary certificates through My CFIA, providing them with the ability to take advantage of many of the same benefits that commercial plant importers have.

Export of food products is also handled by the CFIA, and more information about this topic can be found on their food export guidance site.

For further information, growers should seek help from CFIA officers at:

Room 301 - 1800 11th Avenue
Regina, SK  S4P 0H8
Phone: 306-780-5180
Fax: 306-780-5177

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