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Chapter 5 - Export to the U.S.
5.2 Cattle and bison born on or after March 1, 1999 (updated July 2018)

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Veterinarians authorized to certify cattle and bison born on or after March 1, 1999, for export to the U.S. may certify both slaughter and non-slaughter categories of bovine and bison. They are also authorized to certify yak for immediate slaughter to the U.S. Refer to section 5.2B for this specific purpose.

Veterinarians authorized under these requirements are required to maintain records to document how certification elements have been met for each shipment. These records must be kept for three years.

Health certification requirements

1. In both slaughter and non-slaughter categories, the animals must have been:

  1. born in the U.S. or Canada, or were legally imported into Canada from a region recognized by the USDA as a region not restricted due to BSE.
  2. under no movement restrictions within Canada or the U.S. for at least 60 days prior to export to the U.S.
  3. inspected and found to be free from any evidence of communicable disease and, as far as it can be determined, must not have been exposed to any such disease during the 60 days immediately preceding the date of shipment.
  4. born on or after March 1, 1999, which is the date determined by the APHIS to be the effective enforcement of a ruminant-to-ruminant feed ban.
  5. not be in quarantine in Canada.
  6. in Canada in a period during which the country must have been free from foot-and-mouth disease, rinderpest, surra (trypanosomiasis), and contagious bovine pleuropneumonia.
  7. individually identified with an approved Canadian ear tag (or any tag deemed equivalent under the livestock identification and traceability program), applied prior to each animal's entry into the U.S.
  8. inspected and certified for export within 30 days of export by an accredited veterinarian.

2. Age determination and certification:

The following tools for aging are available to the Accredited Veterinarian (AV). The choice of method rests with the AV, based on their due diligence and professional veterinary judgement. A record of the methods employed in determining the age of cattle or bison is to be maintained for each shipment certified by an AV.

Records of the method used must be kept for three years for audit purpose (such as a note written on the copy of the export certificate retained by the AV). Information about measures employed for aging is to be made available to CFIA upon request.

Any animal that in the professional opinion of the AV may be older than the March 1st, 1999 birth date, based on visual appraisal, dentition, or reviews of producer records, is to be removed from the shipment and is not eligible for export.

  1. Visual inspection:
    It is recognized that an experienced veterinary practitioner is able to estimate the age of cattle (based on breed characteristic knowledge). The accredited veterinarian is often knowledgeable about the herds of origin of the cattle to be exported, such as from beef feedlots or veal operations.

    Visual inspection should only be used as a sole method for a shipment when the accredited veterinarian is confident that the animals were born on or after March 1st, 1999. If there is any concern that the animal(s) being inspected were born prior to March 1st, 1999 the AV should choose option b or c (below) for age verification.

  2. Producer records:
    Acceptable records can include birth record, Agri-traçabilité Québec (ATQ) database birth date record, purebred registration certificate, Canadian Cattle Identification Agency (CCIA) database birth date record, farm birth records or other record such as purchase receipt or medical records.

    This method can also include information known to the AV such as ID tags of specific color/letter being from a specific year or ear tattoo letters. These and other documents are supporting evidence that may be acceptable to the accredited veterinarian indicating the animal was born on or after March 1, 1999.

  3. Dentition:
    Animals may be exported to the U.S. after inspection of dentition, provided that the animal appears to be at, or under, 10 to 12 years of age as per the following diagram and description. Animals with no visible incisors and/or missing molars ("gummers") should be aged using another method.

Diagram 1: Front view of incisors up to 120 months of age (10 years)

Click on image for larger view
Dentition. Description follows.

Description of Diagram 1 - Front view of incisors up to 120 months of age (10 years)

Illustrations are read from right to left. All illustrations show the frontal aspect of a bovine mandible aged 30 months or older.

The first illustration represents the first set of permanent incisors. On its left, we observe an erupting third permanent incisor, top of tooth above the gum, meaning the animal is 30 months of age.

The second illustration represents the first set of permanent incisors. On its right, we observe an erupting fourth permanent incisor. On its left, an erupting third permanent incisor with top corners of the tooth above the gum, meaning the animal is 30 months of age or older.

The third illustration represents the first four permanent incisors. The first set is fully erupted and the second set (left and right) have top corners above the gum. The animal is 30 months of age or older.

The fourth illustration represents a full set of permanent incisors. The animal is over 48 months of age.

The fifth illustration represents the medial incisors (first permanent incisors [left and right]) showing wear and levelled tops. The animal is 72 months of age.

The sixth and last illustration represents permanent incisors showing wear and space between the teeth. The animal is 120 months or older.

Extracted from: FSIS Notice 5-04, January 12, 2004

The rounded arch of the incisors gradually becomes nearly straight by the twelfth (12) year of age in cattle. The teeth become more triangular, distinctly separated, and show progressive wearing to stubs. As cattle continue to age, the teeth wear shorter, and more neck becomes visible; the crown disappears in most teeth, and they loosen in the sockets and eventually drop out.


light blue ear tag

3. Additional certification requirements and procedures for non-slaughter category (breeding, shows, feeders, etc.):

3.1 Cattle exported on the HA1941 export of cattle or bison to the United States certificate must:

  1. be permanently and humanely identified with a distinct and legible "C^N" mark that has been applied with a freeze brand or hot iron, that is easily visible on the live animal. Apply the mark to each animal's right hip, high on the tail-head and not less than two inches nor more than three inches high; or
  2. bear a legible tattoo of the letters "CAN" applied to the inside of the left ear. Tattoo pliers recommended by a manufacturer for use in cattle should be used for tattoo application; or
  3. be permanently and humanely identified by any other alternative method approved by the USDA before the shipment reaches the port of entry into the U.S.

Note: Permanent marking as described above is not required for bison, if they meet additional identification requirements. In addition to the approved radio frequency identification (RFID) tag, bison that do not have a permanent marking as described above must bear in the opposite ear a secondary dangle tag (available from the Canadian Bison Association) bearing the same official identification number as the approved RFID tag. Hand written tags are not acceptable.

3.2 Cattle and bison exported on the HA1941 export cattle or bison to the United States of America certificate must:

  1. originate from a brucellosis-free province or territory or from a brucellosis-free herd.
  2. have continuously resided in a tuberculosis (Mycobacterium bovis) free province or territory or region in Canada, or their U.S. equivalent (e.g. tuberculosis accredited free or modified accredited advanced State) or originate from a tuberculosis free herd.

    Note: Tuberculosis testing protocol.

    Testing must be performed in accordance with CFIA's Bovine Tuberculosis Manual of Procedures. Consult module 3.1 Tuberculosis testing. Accredited veterinarians must immediately report all CFT reactors to the CFIA and all CFT reactors must be tested by a CFIA veterinarian with the ancillary comparative cervical tuberculin test (CCT). The CCT must be performed no later than 10 days after the CFT injection. The CFT negative animals that were in contact with the CFT reactor will not be eligible for export until the CFT reactor has been confirmed negative with the ancillary test. Please note that even if they tested negative to the CCT, CFT reactors are not eligible for export to the US. This protocol must be followed for all CFT reactors, including those that were tested in order to comply with a States requirement.

  3. be accompanied by the original and two photocopies of the export certificate. Contrary to slaughter animals, one export certificate per truck is required.

4. Specific certification requirements and procedures for slaughter category:

  1. Cattle and bison certified for slaughter in the U.S. on HA2183 do not require tattoos, brands, or other identification, as described in section 3.1 in this module.
  2. The certificate HA2183, as described below, requires the entry of specific statements concerning the routing of shipments to slaughter.
  3. A shipment of animals to direct slaughter may consist of animals from a single place of export that are transported in several vehicles that will proceed to the same U.S. destination. The trucks must cross the border at the same location on the same working day. The specific number of animals in each truck must be recorded by the agent/owner/exporter on the annex page before departure.
  4. For shipments of slaughter animals of several truck loads, the first truck in the shipment requires the original certificate signed and endorsed by the CFIA official veterinarian, plus two copies. Subsequent trucks require three copies of the Canadian health certificate, one of which must bear a red CFIA export seal on every page.

5. How to complete the Canadian health certificate:

  1. The accredited veterinarian must use the most recent version of the HA1941/HA2183 Bovine export certificate. A copy of the certificate is available through a CFIA district office.
  2. The port of entry must be indicated on both certificates (HA2183 and HA1941). When completing the HA2183 Export of Cattle or Bison for Immediate Slaughter to the United States of America certificate, the routing of the shipment must be based on information provided by the exporter. The routing starts at the U.S. port of entry and must include all main roads to be followed in the U.S.
  3. No strikeouts are required on the certificate, with the exception of selecting cattle or bison, as appropriate in the line just above the signature block at the bottom of the certificate.
  4. The total number of animals inspected and listed on the certificate is to be placed in the blank next to the line mentioned in point c.
  5. The annex of the certificate (identification page) may be substituted with a list of animals containing the same information as this page, including the number of animals in the truck. The reference number is to be recorded at the top of each page, and all pages are to be numbered. An export stamp and the accredited veterinarian initials are required on every page, and the last page must bear a completed date and signature block for both the accredited veterinarian and the CFIA veterinarian in the same manner as it appears in the annex itself. In addition, the statement blocks stating the number of animals in the truck and the name of the agent/owner/exporter must also appear on the substituted last page in the same manner as in the annex.

    The accredited veterinarian must assure that the identification of animals on the certificate matches the identification of animals that were inspected for export.

  6. An export manifest is available on the Website of the Canadian Cattle Identification Agency and Agri-Traçabilité Québec. If being used, birth dates are automatically recorded if present in the database.
  7. The "row" column is only a sequential numerical entry (1, 2, 3, …) Its purpose is to facilitate discussions between the USDA and the CFIA when they have questions about one or many animals.
  8. Approved tags bear a unique identification number. The identification numbers of tags approved for cattle start with "124 000 0", "124 000 1" or "124 000 2". Other tags that are considered equivalent under the livestock identification and traceability program that start with "840" are also acceptable as official identification. Approved tags for bison start with "124 000 300" to "124 000 304".


    Although it is not a USDA requirement that the ear tag numbers be listed in ascending numerical order on the certificate, accredited veterinarians are encouraged to complete the certificates in this manner. This practice will facilitate inspection at the U.S. port of entry and minimize delays.

  9. In the column "age" (not applicable to HA2183), record the actual birth date of each animal if a birth record is available; if not, the year of birth is sufficient as long as it is not 1999. If age is determined by dentition or visual inspection, an estimate in years may be used. The date format must be indicated at the top of the annex. This format must be consistent throughout the certificate.
  10. The accredited veterinarian must complete the export health certificate by entering all the necessary information. The "reference number" is assigned by the CFIA district office. The completed and signed health certificate (including name in block capitals) will be submitted to CFIA for review, and if all requirements are met, it will be endorsed. Any incomplete export certificates will be returned to the accredited veterinarian for completion. A fee is charged for CFIA endorsement. Once endorsed, certificates are returned to the accredited veterinarian or the exporter. The health certificate is valid for 30 days from the date of inspection.

    Note: the USDA have confirmed that they do not require an original signature from the accredited veterinarian on the export certificates HA1941, HA2183 and HA2610. Therefore, accredited veterinarians may choose to transmit these certificates for endorsement to the CFIA district office according to the regular method described in Module 4.1 (personal or sealed envelope delivery), or transmit these export certificates by fax or electronically as long as the following conditions are met:

    1. Accredited veterinarians who wish to send export certificates to a district office via fax or e-mail must first inform the district veterinarian of their intention and must provide the fax number or the e-mail address that will be used. Only fax numbers or e-mail addresses associated with the issuing accredited veterinarian will be accepted.
    2. Certificates received by fax or electronically must be printed on legal size paper. Before signing these certificates, endorsing CFIA veterinarians will ascertain that they contain a valid issuing signature and that it originated from an approved fax or e-mail address.
    3. The USDA has confirmed that certificates bearing a copy of the accredited veterinarian's signature will be accepted by their port of entry veterinarians. However, they must still bear an original stamp and an original signature from the CFIA veterinarian.
  11. Drawing a line to indicate the same data between a column of animals is acceptable for the following columns: age (not applicable to HA2183), sex, breed and description. The information must be completed for the first animal and the last animal in the group.
  12. There can be up to 20% more animals on the export certificate than what is actually being exported. No strikeouts are necessary for the animals not loaded, but the owner/agent/exporter must record, on the day of shipment, the number of animals in each truck in the designated spot on each copy of the certificate that will accompany that truck.

    For example, if an exporter expects to send a truck of 45 animals, approximately nine–ten animals in excess could be added on the certificate as "reserve animals". If he expects to send a shipment of four trucks (4 × 45 animals, depending on the age and the size), approximately 36 animals could be recorded in excess on the certificate.

  13. Where brucellosis or tuberculosis testing has been completed, a copy of the test chart and results of test must be presented to the CFIA district office at the time that the export certificate is endorsed by a CFIA veterinarian. Please refer to Sections 3.1 Tuberculosis Testing and 3.2 Serologic Testing of this manual for information on required reporting of tuberculin tests and on submission of serum samples to CFIA accredited laboratories for brucellosis testing.

Inspections at U.S. ports of entry

  1. Cattle exported, other than for immediate slaughter, should be normally unloaded at the U.S. port of entry for individual inspection at the discretion of the USDA veterinarian.

    For bison, if no satisfactory handling installations are available at the border, a USDA veterinarian will provide an inspection at their final destination in the U.S.

  2. Trucks transporting slaughter animals will be sealed at the U.S. port of entry for direct movement to the designated slaughterhouse.
  3. The animals must be presented at the U.S. port of entry by appointment. The shipment must be accompanied by U.S. Veterinary Services Form 17-29 Declaration of Importation and the official Canadian health certificate (HA1941 or HA2183).
  4. Refer to section 5.1 General for the list of land ports of entry designated as having the necessary inspection facilities for the entry of animals from Canada. Although this list was provided by the USDA, it is the exporters' responsibility to present their animals to a U.S. port of entry that has the facilities required for the unloading and inspection of such animals.

5.2A Export to the U.S. – certification requirements of cattle and bison for multi-shipments

1. Export of cattle and bison with different export certificates in the same truck:

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) allows the export of cattle and bison using multiple export certificates. Please adhere to the following rules:

It is possible to export animals in the same truck using multiple certificates. However, there is one basic rule: this is possible only for animals of the same category i.e. that animals going to direct slaughter (HA2183) can never be mixed with feeder/breeder/show animals (HA1941).

Animals must be exported in one truck only. It has never been allowed to export feeder/breeder/show animals in multiple trucks, and we have been informed by the USDA that FSIS could have problems with animals under multiple export certificates arriving at slaughterhouses in different trucks.

Animals going to direct slaughter must all go to the same destination since the truck is sealed at the U.S. border.

It is possible to put feeder/breeder/show animals not going to the same destination in the same truck, as long as they all have a valid export certificate specifying the final destination.

It is possible to assemble animals in the same truck even if they are not coming from the same exporter.

Animals don't need to be assembled in one place; the truck can make multiple pickups.

Animals exported under different export certificates may be commingled in the truck; the USDA doesn't require the different groups to be separated. However, in the case of direct to slaughter animals, the exporter should check with the slaughterhouse (management and/or FSIS) that they agree with this procedure.

The number listed by the agent/owner/exporter on their health certificate should be the number of animals they loaded from their specific certificate, not a grand total for all certificates.

As usual, it is the responsibility of the exporter and/or accredited veterinarian to ensure that the State(s) of destination or slaughterhouse agree with multiple shipments in one truck.

Exporters must be aware that the whole truck may be refused if a problem is found with a part of the truckload so this method may be more at risk than single load shipments

2. Cattle and bison from different locations exported on the same export certificate:

Because of the trace-back possibilities provided by the Canadian Cattle National Identification System, the USDA accepts that animals coming from different farms/assembly points be put on the same certificate as long as:

  • the exporter is the same for all animals
  • the importer and destination are the same for all animals
  • the accredited veterinarian is the same for all animals

The certificate HA1941 for the export of cattle or bison to the USA will not change for the moment. There is no need to record the different places of origin on the export certificate or on a separate sheet.

The certificate HA2183 for the export of cattle or bison for immediate slaughter gives the possibility of recording different places of origin, thus every physical location where the animals are exported from should be recorded on the certificate.

3. Previously imported bob calves re-exported to the USA for immediate slaughter

For animals imported from the United States under Part III, Section 17 of the Import Reference Document on feeder calves, and re-exported with export certificate HA2610, the above instructions do not apply completely since the animals are placed in quarantine upon arrival in Canada.

  • Bob calves from different locations may be assembled in one shipment as long as they all belong to the same exporter.
  • If an exporter wants to export bob calves under quarantine with other groups in the same truck, it must be clearly written on the transport license that the exporter has been given the permission to mix the different groups together.
  • In the case where such shipment would be refused at the border, the exporter must have a contingency plan for quarantining all these animals in a place(s) that has/have been pre-approved for this purpose by the CFIA district staff.

5.2B Export to the U.S. – certification requirements of yak for immediate slaughter

The Export certificate HA2951 Yak for Immediate Slaughter to the United States of America must be used. A copy of the certificate is available through a CFIA district office.

All inspection and certification procedures described in the section above related to slaughter category animals are applicable to the certification of yak for immediate slaughter except for the following:

  • There are no approved tags for yak. They must be identified with a Health of Animals tag. Refer to Section 2.1 Identification of livestock.
  • Age determination: only visual inspection and birth records (including birth farm records) as described above for bovine and bison can be used to determine the age of yak. Dentition cannot be used.
  • The age of the animals must be listed on the certificate.
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