Invasive Plants Policy


The activities of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) help protect Canada's plant resource base from plant pests, including protecting the environment and the agriculture, horticulture and forestry sectors of the Canadian economy. Phytosanitary import measures administered by the CFIA strive to keep new pests out of Canada, while domestic measures limit the movement and spread of pests within Canada.

The regulation of plants as pests is not new for Canada. For many years, some plant species (e.g. Striga spp.) have been regulated as pests under the Plant Protection Act. Likewise, the CFIA has designated certain plant species as noxious weeds in the Weed Seeds Order and has regulated them as such under the Seeds Act.

Some of the major pathways by which species to be regulated would enter Canada and spread within Canada are:

  • seed (for propagation)
  • plants for planting (e.g., ornamentals, soil stabilizers, medicinal plants)
  • grain (e.g., for feed, birdfeed, industrial uses, milling, crushing)
  • hay, straw, packing material
  • soil

The Agency is actively engaging with stakeholders through the Canadian Invasive Plant Framework in order to build active partnerships that could be used in the delivery of a comprehensive Invasive Plants Program in Canada.

1. Purpose

This national policy outlines the Canadian Food Inspection Agency's (CFIA) approach to develop and implement phytosanitary measures to regulate the importation and domestic movement of pest plants.

2. Authority

This policy is enabled primarily by the Plant Protection Act, Seeds Act and related regulations.

3. Scope

This national policy applies to the importation and domestic movement of plants regulated as pests under the Plant Protection Act, and of plants designated as Prohibited Noxious Weeds in the Weed Seeds Order made under the Seeds Act. Both intentional and unintentional pathways of introduction are included under the policy. However, phytosanitary control measures will only be applied to pathways that are feasible to regulate.

4. Policy Statement

Pest plants are regulated in the same manner as other pest organisms, such as pathogens and insects. The decision to regulate a plant as a pest will be based on scientific and other risk-based factors including cost and feasibility.

The CFIA is committed to developing and implementing a fair and transparent invasive plants program with continuous improvement through engagement with stakeholders. This is consistent with Canada's obligations under the World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures and as a signatory to the International Plant Protection Convention. Under these agreements phytosanitary measures should:

  1. be determined by scientific principles as well as technical and economic feasibility;
  2. represent the least restrictive measures to trade;
  3. be applied only to the extent necessary to protect plant health; and
  4. be transparent.

5. Policy Requirements

Pest risk analyses (PRAs) will be conducted and used as the basis for considering the regulation of invasive plants and plants that are pathways for other pests. If plants present a significant risk to Canada's plant resource base, they will be considered for regulation. Throughout the process, stakeholders will be consulted and encouraged to provide input on regulatory options for risk management.

Once a plant has been designated for regulation, the measures that will be taken will depend on the pathway by which the plant can enter Canada or spread within Canada, as well as the risk mitigation measures that are available for the pathway or end-use of the plant or plant product. The relevant documents and instruments (e.g. Directives, procedure, manuals, List of Pests Regulated by Canada and Weed Seeds Order) will be updated throughout the process, as needed, to reflect new information on pest plants.

The full scientific name must be provided to the CFIA in all documents. If, according to the CFIA's records, the species is not known to have previously been imported into Canada, the CFIA will conduct a PRA to determine whether or not the species will be regulated. The import of such species would be prohibited until the results of the PRA are known. Importers should contact the CFIA if they are unsure of the status of a particular species.

Furthermore, plants that have previously been imported into Canada, but that have since been determined by the CFIA to be regulated pests, may be subject to import or domestic movement prohibitions. In some instances however, importation or domestic movement may be authorized subject to specific risk mitigation conditions. Note that assessment of the potential for plants to serve as hosts or pathways for pests may be required.

Plants designated as pests and any product contaminated by such pest plants would be subject to regulatory control or action, including but not limited to:

  • prohibition (import and domestic movement)
  • requirement to obtain and furnish an import permit to allow the material contaminated with the regulated article to enter or move within Canada for a specific end use under specific conditions
  • requirement to obtain and furnish a phytosanitary certificate from the exporting country
  • domestic movement certificate
  • requirement to obtain and furnish both an import permit and a phytosanitary certificate
  • detention, disposal, treatment, processing, removal from Canada, etc.

6. Roles and Responsibilities

6.1 Importers:

Importers are responsible for ensuring that articles they import into Canada meet requirements of the applicable Acts and Regulations.

Individuals or companies planning to import plants and plant products into Canada or to move such products within Canada should confirm the phytosanitary requirements with the CFIA through one or more of the following means:

6.2 CFIA:

Through WTO notifications and PRAs, the CFIA will meet its international obligations by ensuring that phytosanitary measures are transparent and technically justified.

The CFIA will verify compliance with Canadian regulatory requirements and work with the National Plant Protection Organizations of trading partners to provide reasonable assurances that imported products meet Canada's phytosanitary import requirements.

Regulatory decisions rendered on pest plants added to the List of Pests Regulated by Canada will be published on the CFIA website. The species will be included in Plant Health and Biosecurity directives (D-memos) maintained by specific commodity sections and on the Automated Import Reference System (AIRS) such that specific import and domestic movement requirements are clearly communicated.

7. Communication and Consultation

Before decisions are made to regulate plants as pests, stakeholder consultation will occur. Risk management documents (RMDs) developed from risk assessments will be shared with stakeholders for comments. Stakeholder feedback will be considered in determining the CFIA's decision on each species. Regulatory decisions are based on the best science that is available at the time. For that reason, RMDs can be revised at any time as more information about the species becomes available.

For information on invasive plants please contact