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Re: Shipping Plants to Canada

Paul K. asked:

"James, do you think that Canadian Customs would accept a phytosanitary
certificate from a U.S. state, instead of the federal phytosanitary
certificate?  I found out that getting a federal phytosanitary certificate
will cost me $40.00, but the State of Mississippi will inspect my plants
for free.  (My tax dollars are getting me something tangible at least on
the state level.)"

I can't say much with 100% certainty on this, as I work for the taxation
side of the Canada Customs & Revenue Agency (formerly known as the
Department of National Revenue or informally as Revenue Canada)) and not the
Customs side, but I am pretty good at reading the regulations - from the
regulations, it isn't really a "Customs" issue - if the plants originated in
the United States, they can enter Canada without any worry of hassle from
Customs, so long as they are not on the very short "prohibited" list and as
there is no duty on things like this crossing our mutual border.

This is the "prohibited" list:

*Aquatic Plants - Myriophyllum spp., Trapa spp., Elodea densa (= Anacharis
densa, = Egeria densa) and Hydrilla verticilata are prohibited entry. Other
aquatic plants do not require a Permit to Import.

The need for paperwork and inspections comes from the Canadian Food
Inspection Agency (yet another set of civil servants). The following URL
[http://www.cfia-acia.agr.ca/english/plaveg/protect/producte.shtml] gives
complete details of what is needed. As you can see, they are most concerned
over agricultural and forestry products - the ornamental aquatic plant trade
is given little thought.

[http://www.cfia-acia.agr.ca/english/plaveg/protect/dir/d-94-27e.shtml] This
URL covers true aquatic plants coming INTO Canada. From this document, it
can safely be said that:

1. An Import Permit in NOT required if the plants originated in the
continental U.S.A. If the Canadian importer is trying to bring in plants
from a country other than the USA, they must get an Import Permit from the
Plant Protection Division FIRST.

The directive which coveres Import Permits may be found online at

For issues specific to the United States, the following directive applies:

2. A Phytosanitary Certificate IS required for all importations of aquatic
plants, plant parts and/or seeds. The full scientific name of each plant
must be listed on the phytosanitary certificate.

Here is the text of the regulation:

"A PHYTOSANITARY CERTIFICATE is a document that certifies that the plants or
plant products described have been inspected according to appropriate
procedures and are considered to be free from quarantine pests and
practically free from other injurious pests. This certificate must be issued
no later than 14 days before shipment to Canada and is issued by an official
in the country of origin. Phytosanitary Certificates are addressed to the
Plant Protection Division in Ottawa and must conform with the current
phytosanitary regulations of Canada."

No mention (or distinction) appears to exisit between whether this
certificate is issued by a federal or a state authority - it just refers to
"an official". I assume that in the United States (like Canada) state
officials can be just as "officous" as federal ones. <g>

The Directive which covers Canadian requirements for Phytosanitary
Certificates may be found online at

3. The Canadian authorities are not very concerned about whether TRUE
AQUATIC PLANTS were grown in sterile media or soil, as both are exempt from
the provisions of the Canadian Sterile Growing Medium Program.

4. ALL incoming shipments of aquatic plants are subject to inspection.

5. ANY incoming shipment which fails to pass inspection either due to the
presence of pests or poor or incomplete documentation is refused entry [end
of story].

The USDA has a similar amount of information available online as the
Canadian Food Inspection Agency does, but it is mainly intended for
importers of plant products into the US, and not really designed for
exporters [http://www.aphis.usda.gov/ppq/ss/permits/products/index.shtml].
Like the Canadian regulations, a strong line is drawn between commercial
enterprises and individuals importing a few plants for their personal use
(i.e., a lot less red tape for individuals).

To be perfectly honest...... I wouldn't worry about a few plants being
tucked into a padded mailer and being sent thru the mail to a buddy in
Canada. Neither of you is likely to get arrested. But if they are VALUABLE
or RARE plants, I would recommend that you follow the rules and get the
Phytosanitary Certificate from your local State authorities and label the
shipment appropriately. You say that the Certificate is free, and a properly
certified shipment can clear the regulators at the border in 3 hours.

I'm sorry to go on about this issue, but I think that it is an important one
for the members of the APD to know about.

Now, back to bleach........ <g>

James Purchase