Requirements for exporters and importers of live animals: Livestock Identification and Traceability Program

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The objective of the national Livestock Identification and Traceability program is to provide accurate and up-to-date livestock identity, movement and location information to mitigate the impact of disease outbreaks, food safety issues and natural disasters.

This brochure provides an overview of the federal livestock identification and traceability requirements. Provincial and territorial requirements may also apply.

The guidance in this brochure is not a substitute for the law. Therefore, it is important for regulated parties who use this guidance to apply it in accordance with and within the context of the applicable sections of Part XV (Animal Identification) of the Health of Animals Regulations.

Overview of export requirements

Cattle, bison and sheep exporters

Identifying cattle, bison and sheep that you export

Animals that are moved off of their farm of origin (or any site after having left their farm of origin) for any reason, including for export outside of Canada, must be identified by an approved tag.

As an exporter, you have the responsibility of ensuring that the cattle, bison and sheep that you export bear an approved tag.
You may not remove an approved Canadian tag from an animal that is being exported and/or replace an existing approved tag with another tag (such as the Health of Animals Act tag).

Reporting requirements for cattle and bison that you export

When you export cattle or bison, you must report the identification numbers of the cattle and bison you have exported to the Canadian Cattle Identification Agency within 30 days.

Reporting requirements for sheep that you export

There is no mandatory requirement to report exported sheep.

Pig Exporters

Please note that requirements for pigs also apply to farmed wild boars.

Identifying pigs that you export

Pigs that you export need to be identified by a means approved by the importing country (or sub-jurisdiction of a country) before you export them. The indicator—such as an approved tag or slap tattoo—used to identify these pigs must bear an identification number (such as a herd mark) issued by the Canadian Pork Council.

Reporting requirements for pigs that you export

When you export pigs, you must report the following information to the Canadian Pork Council within seven days:

  • the location of the last site at which each pig was kept before it was exported;
  • the number of pigs that you exported from each site;
  • the location(s) to which you exported the pigs;
  • the number of pigs that you exported to each location;
  • the dates on which the pigs were loaded onto the conveyance they were exported in;
  • the number of pigs that were loaded on each of those dates;
  • when applicable, the pig's identification numbers on the indicators (for example, ear tag, slap tattoo) that have been approved by the importing country;
  • the number of pigs bearing each identification number/herd mark; and
  • the licence plate number of the conveyance used to export the pigs.

All information related to pigs that is reported to the Canadian Pork Council must also be kept in records five years.

Cattle, bison, sheep and pigs: when to report tags as "retired" and when to report tags as "exported"

Report as "exported"

Approved tags for any animal that you exported outside Canada, even if you export animals that will be slaughtered as soon as they arrive at their destination.

Report as "retired"

Approved tags on animals exported outside Canada should NOT be reported as retired. The retiring even shall only be used for animals that died in Canada for any reason, including slaughter, and those being disposed of, by a renderer for example.

Overview of import requirements

Cattle, bison and sheep importers

Identifying cattle, bison and sheep that will be imported

You must identify all imported cattle, bison and sheep with an approved Canadian tag1 either before you import them, or as soon as you receive them in Canada.

You must keep all records noted in this document for five years for pigs and two years for cattle, bison and sheep.

Under the federal Health of Animals Regulations, custodians of:

These are the "responsible administrators" for these two groups of livestock.

Cattle, bison and sheep do not need to be identified with an approved tag if they are imported for immediate slaughter.

Reporting requirements for cattle, bison and sheep that will be imported

When you import cattle, bison and sheep, you must report the following information to the responsible administrator:

  • the identification number on the animal's approved tag; and
  • enough information about the animal to allow its origin to be traced.
How long do I have to report this information?

After you receive imported animals, you must report the required information to the Canadian Cattle Identification Agency within

  • 30 days for cattle
  • 60 days for bison
  • 7 days for sheep

Pig importers

Please note that requirements related to pigs also apply to farmed wild boars.

Identifying pigs that you import

What pigs need to be identified?

Just like cattle, bison and sheep, imported pigs can be identified with an approved Canadian tagFootnote 1 either before they are imported, or as soon as their reach their first destination in Canada.

That being said, pigs imported for immediate slaughter must be identified prior to import with

  • an approved Canadian indicator, or
  • a foreign tag or slap tattoo that has been deemed equivalent to indicators approved by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA).

Reporting requirements for pigs that will be imported

When you import pigs, you must report the following information to the Canadian Pork Council within seven days:

  • the location of the last site at which the pig was kept before it was imported;
  • the location to which the pig was imported;
  • the date that you received the pig;
  • the identification number on the pig's approved indicator; and
  • the licence plate number of the conveyance that transported the imported pig.

All information related to pigs that is reported to the Canadian Pork Council must also be kept in records five years.

Note that animals that were previously exported and re-enter Canada do not need a new approved tag if they still bear the approved tag they had when they were first exported.

For additional information on the regulatory requirements and on Canada's Livestock Identification and Traceability Program, please visit the CFIA website.

Before being imported, cattle, bison, sheep and pigs may already bear an indicator from a foreign country. If the CFIA has deemed that kind of indicator equivalent to an approved Canadian tag, the animals do not need to be re-identified when they are imported into Canada.

Once a foreign indicator has been determined to be equivalent, it is deemed to be an approved tag. This means that an equivalent foreign indicator is treated the same way as an approved Canadian tag and, as such, all requirements applicable to approved tags also apply to equivalent foreign indicators.

Definitions:

Approved tag:
Refers to tags approved under the livestock identification and traceability program and listed on the CFIA website.
Indicator:
An approved tag or approved slap tattoo that identifies animals.
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