Interim phytosanitary requirements for in-transit shipments of plants and plant products of United States origin and in-transit shipments of foreign origin refused entry by the United States

Effective Date: January 1, 2016

This protocol is valid for an interim period while the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) completes its comprehensive in-transit program for plant health.


This protocol recognizes the potential for in-transit shipments to be a pathway of introduction or spread of plant pests in Canada. Plant pests can have significant negative impacts on Canadian agriculture, forestry and environment resources, commerce that relies on those sectors, and access to export markets for Canadian plants and plant products. This interim protocol was developed to address an immediate need to provide guidance and outline the phytosanitary requirements for specific origins and transit routes. A comprehensive in-transit program for plant health is under development and will provide a more predictable, risk-based approach to safeguarding in-transit shipments from all origins, for all modes of transport and all transit routes.


In-transit means the movement from a foreign country, through Canada, to a foreign country.


The requirements within this interim protocol apply to all land transportation modes and at all U.S. - Canada border crossings.


The protection of Canada's plant resources is a shared responsibility and for the purposes of this interim in-transit protocol:

  • The party in care and control of the shipment at the time of entry and while transiting through Canada is responsible for:
    • complying with both the CFIA's and the Canada Border Services Agency's (CBSA's) requirements regarding in-transit shipments;
    • any costs or fees associated with meeting these requirements;
    • notifying the local CFIA office when an in-transit shipment has been refused entry to the U.S. and the reason for the refusal; and
    • for U.S. origin plants and plant products transiting Canada, reporting the species name and U.S. state of origin in the description field of the cargo control document.
  • The CFIA is responsible for:
    • determining the appropriate mitigation measures based on the level of risk and communicating those measures; and
    • issuing the required documentation and verifying that CFIA requirements are met.
  • The CBSA is responsible for:
    • notifying the CFIA of plant pest risks identified at the border in a timely manner; and
    • refusing shipments entry to Canada of shipments that do not comply with the requirements contained within this protocol.

Part 1: Phytosanitary requirements for in-transit shipments of U.S. origin plants and plant products to a foreign country or U.S. destination

In-transit shipments are required to be reported to the CBSA at the first point of arrival in Canada. Unless listed as prohibited (Appendix 1), U.S. origin plants and plant products are approved to move in-transit through Canada provided they meet the following requirements.


To mitigate the possibility of spillage or pest escape, all eligible shipments of plants and plant products of U.S. origin moving in-transit must, at a minimum, be:

  • contained in closed containers that are in good condition; and
  • free of soil, live pests or signs of live pest, weed seeds and plant debris on the outside; and
  • sealed (by exporter or shipping company or CBSA or CFIA or United States Department of Agriculture – Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA-APHIS) or U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)); and
  • remain unopened; and
  • transit Canada directly and expeditiously to point of departure.

Determining Eligibility to Transit Canada through AIRS

The Automated Import Reference System (AIRS) is an online tool that should be referenced by the parties in care and control of the shipments, or their clients prior to compiling the shipment, to determine the eligibility of shipments of U.S. origin plants and plant products to transit Canada to a foreign country or U.S. destination.

The following information will be required to determine eligibility:

  • Commodity description (sufficiently detailed to determine risk and requirements e.g., not "logs" but "elm logs without bark"); and
  • U.S. State of origin (further details such as the county, may be required for some commodities); and
  • Canadian province of exit; and
  • End use (e.g. in-transit through Canada to a third country).

Part 2: Phytosanitary requirements for in-transit shipments, from countries other than the U.S., refused entry by the U.S. authorities

In-transit shipments, refused entry to the U.S. due to phytosanitary risks are to be removed from North America. They are not permitted to enter into Canadian commerce or to be treated in Canada for subsequent re-export to the U.S. If these in-transit shipments are to be removed through Canada, the most expeditious route must be considered. In order to expedite the removal of the shipment from North America, while protecting Canadian plant resources, these refused in-transit shipments require appropriate safeguarding to ensure the risk of pest escape is mitigated as close as possible to where the shipment is being detained and preferably prior to entry into Canada.


Shipments may be permitted to move in-transit to a point of departure to be removed from Canada provided that:

  • The reasons for the refusal has been communicated to the CFIA, either through direct correspondence between the CFIA and USDA-APHIS or through the information contained in the Emergency Action Notification (EAN) issued by CBP or the EAN itself being provided by the shipper/carrier; and
  • The appropriate risk mitigation has been conducted as prescribed by the CFIA; and
  • The appropriate documentation has been issued by the CFIA

Prior to the shipment re-entering Canada to transit to its final point of departure from Canada, the person in care and control of the refused in-transit shipment must immediately contact the local CFIA office associated with the border crossing (local CFIA office). At the first point of arrival upon re-entering Canada, the carrier must present to CBSA officials, information regarding the reason for the refused entry of the shipment into the U.S. such as the EAN issued by CBP. The shipments will be detained.

In-transit shipments that have been refused entry by the U.S. and for which the reason for the refusal has not been communicated to CFIA, are not permitted to enter Canada.

Once the reason for the refusal has been communicated, the CFIA will provide guidance to the party in care and control of the in-transit shipment on how the risk must be mitigated and if treatment is required prior to transiting and subsequent removal from Canada. In-transit shipments requiring treatment prior to departure must move directly to the treatment facility, as directed by the CFIA.

Contact Us:

For more information on the interim in-transit protocol please contact the CFIA at

Appendix 1 (for Part 1 of the Interim In-transit Protocol)

U.S. plant products that are prohibited from moving in-transit through Canada

  • Soil in bulk (without plants) from all U.S. origins
    • (HS code 2530900223)
  • Firewood, of all genera, from all U.S. origins.
    • (HS code 4401100120)
  • Logs of Acer (maple), Aesculus (horsechestnut), Albizia (White Silk), Betula (birch), Celtis (hackberry), Cercidiphyllum (Katsura), Koelreuteria (Goldenrain Tree), Platanus (plane or sycamore), Populus (poplar), Salix (willow), Sorbus (mountain ash), and Ulmus (elm) from areas in the U.S. regulated for Asian Longhorned beetle as per U.S. Federal regulations 7 CFR 301.51: areas in Massachusetts, New York and Ohio.
    • (HS codes 440399013101, 440399013102, 440399013103, 440399013114, 440399013115, 440399013116, 440399013117, 440399013118, 440399013119, 440399013120, 440399013121, 440399013122)
  • Logs of the genus Fraxinus (ash) from U.S. states regulated for Emerald Ash Borer: Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
    • (HS code 440399013107)
  • Logs of the genus Abies (fir) moving in-transit to a port in B.C. from U.S. states regulated for balsam woolly adelgid: California, Connecticut, Idaho, Maine, Massachusetts, Montana, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia.
    • (HS code 440320012801)
  • Logs of the genera Ulmus (elm) and Zelkova moving in-transit to a port in B.C. or Newfoundland.
    • (HS code 440399013101 end use 90 imported with bark)
  • Barley, oats, rye, triticale and wheat from U.S. states regulated for karnal bunt: Arizona.
    • (HS code 10.01, 10.02, 10.03, 10.04 and 1008.60.00 00)

Please refer to AIRS for the most up-to-date information.

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