Overview - Import and Interprovincial Requirements for Fresh Fruit and Vegetables

This information is intended to provide an overview of federal requirements of the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Regulations and the Licensing and Arbitration Regulations for the import interprovincial marketing of fresh fruit and vegetables. This information is not intended to replace any federal regulations. The regulations should be referenced for the official requirements and any established exemptions.

At any time, the Canadian Food inspection Agency may randomly inspect any food product to ensure that minimum requirements (grade, labelling, standard containers and health standards) are met.

Canadian Import Requirements

License

The Canadian importer is required to be licensed with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and/or be a member of the Dispute Resolution Corporation (DRC). Importers that are retailers selling directly to consumers with sales under $230,000 per year are exempt. To determine if an importer is a licensed shipper please refer to the Federal Produce Licensee List. Should you have any questions regarding licensing please contact the CFIA office at 343-212-0538. You should also refer to the DRC members list. Questions related to DRC members should be referred to the DRC office at 613-234-0982. A CFIA license and/or membership with the DRC provides a mechanism for dispute resolution of any quality or payment issues in produce transactions.

Minimum Grade

The Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Regulations specify that certain fresh fruit and vegetables have a grade standard that must be met. A list of products that have a prescribed standard are found later in the document.

Exceptions: Apples from the United States must meet Extra Fancy or Fancy Grade; apples from any other country, or bonded through the United States must meet Extra Fancy Grade, Fancy Grade, or Commercial Grade. Potatoes from any country must meet Canada No. 1.

Apples, onions and potatoes

Apples, onions (except US grown onions imported from the US) and potatoes require an inspection certificate indicating minimum Canadian import requirements for quality, labelling, and packaging are met: (for plant protection requirements, see sub-section below)

  • Onions (not US grown), apples and potatoes from the United States: a USDA inspection certificate FV205 is recognized by the CFIA.
  • Apples from New Zealand: an inspection certificate prepared by the New Zealand Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries is recognized by the CFIA.
  • Apples, onions and potatoes from other countries must be inspected and certified by CFIA upon arrival to meet Canadian minimum import requirements.

Standard Containers

There are prescribed standard container sizes for the following products if prepackaged: beets, carrots, onions, parsnips, potatoes and rutabagas. Please consult Schedule II, Table I of the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Regulations and the Test Market list.

Fresh fruit and vegetables, for which a grade is established, may not be marketed in import or interprovincial trade in containers exceeding 50 kg, except for apples where the maximum container size is 200 kg.

Under certain conditions, a Ministerial Exemption may be granted to permit movement in non-standard container sizes. For information on requesting a Ministerial Exemption see the General Guidelines for Requesting Ministerial Exemptions.

Consumer-sized products (prepackaged) must be labelled with the information required under the Consumer Packaging and Labelling Regulations. Labelling of shipping and master containers is prescribed in the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Regulations. For summary information, see Labelling Guide for Fresh Fruit and Vegetables.

Confirmation of Sale

A Confirmation of Sale (COS): form in triplicate, completed, and signed, is required at time of entry. A copy of the COS must be maintained at the premises of the Canadian importer.

Health and Safety Requirements

Fresh fruit and vegetables (including fresh herbs, fresh cut fruits and vegetables and sprouts) and edible fungi imported into Canada must comply with the health and safety requirements of the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Regulations and the Food and Drug Regulations.

Plant Protection Requirements

There may be plant protection requirements such as phytosanitary certificates or import permits for specific commodities imported from certain countries. Additionally, some products may be prohibited entry into Canada until a pest risk assessment has been completed. To avoid a delay or refusal at the border, importers should contact the CFIA Import Service Centre prior to ordering the shipment.

Exemptions to Regulatory Requirements

Container, labelling and grade requirements may be waived through the issuance of a Ministerial Exemption in the case of a shortage of domestic supply in Canada. A ministerial exemption is approved for movement of bulk shipments for processing or repacking purposes only. USDA inspection certificates are still required on bulk shipments of apples, onions (not US grown), and potatoes. For information on requesting a Ministerial Exemption see the Guidelines for Requesting Ministerial Exemptions.

  • A dealer bringing in fresh products does not have to comply with the grade, packaging and labelling or inspection certification requirements if the shipment does not exceed 15 packages and a total weight of 250 kg., or if the produce is destined for livestock feeding, or donated to a registered charitable organization. Plant protection and health and safety requirements are still applicable.
  • A traveller may be exempted from the licensing, grade, packaging and labelling or inspection certification requirements if the shipment does not exceed 15 packages and a total weight of 250 kg and is for personal consumption. Plant protection requirements and health and safety are still applicable.
  • There are certain products to which the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Regulations (other than the Health and Safety section) do not apply: See the regulations for the complete list. The more common ones are:
    • white asparagus, pickling cucumbers and cherry tomatoes;
    • miniature vegetables with the exception of miniature cucumbers;
    • beets, carrots and onions, the tops of which are not removed;
    • seed potatoes
    • strawberries, unless a grade is used in respect thereof;
    • produce destined for livestock feeding or for the preparation of animal food in respect of which, in the case of import and interprovincial trade, a certificate or permit attesting to that fact has been issued by the appropriate government authority;
    • produce that is part of an emigrant's or an immigrant's effects;
    • produce carried on any vessel, train, motor vehicle, aircraft or other means of transportation for use as food for the crew or passengers thereof;
    • shipments of one or more kinds of produce, consisting of not more than 15 containers and weighing, in the aggregate, not more than 250 kg;
    • produce donated to any organization that is a registered charity under the Income Tax Act or is a non-profit organization within the meaning of that Act.

Import quotas do not apply to fresh produce.

Interprovincial Requirements

License

Growers/shippers of their own produce, or shippers who buy fresh produce solely within the province, in which they are located do not need to be licensed. However the receiver must be licensed with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), or be a member of Dispute Resolution Corporation (DRC).

Minimum Grade

The Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Regulations prescribe grade standards for 30 fresh fruits and vegetables. All produce for which a grade is established must meet one of the grades when shipped interprovincially. Strawberries and blueberries for processing are exempt, unless a grade is declared.

Inspection Certificate

The following commodities require an inspection by the CFIA and the inspection certificate must travel with the shipment:

  • Apples grown in and shipped from Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec, Ontario or British Columbia;
  • Potatoes grown in and shipped from Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Quebec or Ontario;
  • Blueberries grown and shipped in containers of 6 L or less from Nova Scotia, New Brunswick or Prince Edward Island.

The CFIA may issue Release Permits when an inspection cannot be performed within the time described in the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Regulations. The inspection requirement does not apply to product prepared in a registered establishment. Any facility which packs and ships produce for which grade standards are established may apply for registration. Registered establishments which pack and ship apples, potatoes, and blueberries are exempt for the interprovincial inspection requirement.

Standard Containers

There are prescribed standard container sizes for the following products if prepackaged: beets, carrots, onions, parsnips, potatoes and rutabagas. Please consult Schedule II, Table I of the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Regulations and the Test Market list.

Fresh fruit and vegetables, for which a grade is established, may not be marketed in import or interprovincial trade in containers exceeding 50 kg, except for apples where the maximum container size is 200 kg.

Under certain conditions, a Ministerial Exemption may be granted to permit movement in non-standard container sizes. For information on requesting a Ministerial Exemption see the General Guidelines for Requesting Ministerial Exemptions.

Consumer-sized products (prepackaged) must be labelled with the information required under the Consumer Packaging and Labelling Regulations. Labelling of shipping and master containers is prescribed in the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Regulations. For summary information, see Labelling Guide for Fresh Fruit and Vegetables.

Confirmation of Sale

A Confirmation of Sale (COS) form must accompany the load. An exception to this requirement is if the load has already been imported or shipped interprovincially and was accompanied by a COS.

Health and Safety Requirements

Fresh fruit and vegetables (including fresh herbs, fresh cut fruits and vegetables and sprouts) and edible fungi shipped interprovincially must comply with the health and safety requirements of the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Regulations and the Food And Drug Regulations.

Exemptions to Regulatory Requirements

Container, labelling and grade requirements may be waived through the issuance of a Ministerial Exemption (prior to shipment) when there is a shortage of domestic supplies in the receiving province. A ministerial exemption is approved for movement of bulk shipments for processing or repacking purposes only. For information on requesting a Ministerial Exemption see the Guidelines for Requesting Ministerial Exemptions.

The sale of fresh fruit and vegetables within a province is regulated by provincial authorities, and any questions should be referred to the provincial department of agriculture.

The same exemptions apply for dealers and travellers as for imported products.

Contacts

Questions on marketing fresh fruit and vegetables may be directed to the CFIA Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Specialists at the CFIA regional office.

The Import Service Centres process import request documentation/data sent electronically or by fax by the importing community across Canada.

If a receiver in Canada has received produce in a deteriorated condition or has agreed to handle product in a deteriorated condition, they are required to request an inspection within 24 hours of reception. The CFIA Destination Inspection Service can provide an inspection for this purpose. These inspections assist buyers and sellers in reaching a fair settlement.

Fruits and Vegetable regulated by the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Regulations

Fresh Fruit and Vegetables for which Grades are Established:

Fruit:

1. Apples
2. Apricots 
3. Blueberries (exception - for processing)
4. Cantaloupes
5. Cherries
6. Crabapples
7. Cranberries
8. Grapes
9. Peaches
10. Pears
11. Plums and Prunes
12. Field Rhubarb
13. Strawberries (exception - if no grade is used)

Vegetables: (miniature vegetables are excluded, but miniature cucumbers are included)

14. Asparagus (exception - white asparagus)
15. Beets (exception - beets with tops) 
16. Brussels Sprouts
17. Cabbages
18. Carrots (exception - carrots with tops)
19. Cauliflower
20. Celery
21. Sweet Corn
22. Field Cucumbers (exception - pickling cucumbers)
23. Greenhouse Cucumbers
24. Head Lettuce - Iceberg type
25. Onions (exception - onions with tops)
26. Parsnips
27. Potatoes (excluded if certified for seed)
28. Rutabagas
29. Field Tomatoes (exception - cherry tomatoes)
30. Greenhouse Tomatoes

Arbitration Mechanisms

For information on dispute resolution with CFIA licensees, or to register a complaint with the Board of Arbitration contact:

Destination Inspection Service
Canadian Food Inspection Agency
3851 Fallowfield Road
C Wing 2nd Floor
PO Box 11300
Nepean, ON K2H 8P9
Telephone: 343-212-0539
Fax: 343-212-0560

For information on dispute resolution with DRC members, contact the DRC.

Building 75
Experimental Farm
930 Carling Avenue
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0C6
Telephone: 613-234-0982
Fax: 613-234-8036
website: www.fvdrc.com

Complaints by Canadian exporters against U.S. receivers can be made through the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act (PACA), USDA, Telephone: 202-720-2890.