Importing Seeds from USA to Canada

I recently looked up some Web information regarding this topic and thought it might be useful to Canadian members of this forum.

I know that importing plants into Canada is a complicated and expensive undertaking, and I’ve seen some mention of problems with importing plant cuttings. But seeds seemed to be treated differently because I’ve bought seeds from US suppliers and had no problem receiving them in Canada. So, I checked on the actual legal requirements for seed importation.

This document is a summary of the rules: ABCs of seed importation into Canada - Canadian Food Inspection Agency. It has some complicated rules for documentation and analysis of the seeds being imported, but the most relevant part for ordinary gardeners is Secton L: Exemptions from import documentation requirements. The key statements follow.

“Where the imported seed lot is 5 kg or less for large seeded crop kinds (such as peas, wheat, soybeans and corn) or is 500 g or less for small seeded crop kinds (such as alfalfa, tomato or canola), neither the import declaration information nor the seed analysis certificate need be supplied.”

“Seed analysis certificates and import declarations are not required for lots of herb seed that are 5 kg or less, or for flower seed, tree or shrub seed, true potato seed, ginseng, seeds of aquatic plants or onion/garlic multiplier sets.”

These statements explain why I’ve been able to buy vegetable, tree, and shrub seeds from US suppliers. I assume that it also applies to personal letters containing seeds, although there are other rules that apply to certain types of seeds that are specificaly named in the official regulations.

If anyone is aware of any problems with this information, please comment.


Thank you for bringing this to light, I’m a developing nursery still in the early stages of growing out my stock, and CFIA regulations overwhelm me to no end, It’s a big reason why I just started growing natives, they are easier to grow, easier to find seed of, but eventually I might want to import some unique plants. I understand how important the CFIA is, without them I’m sure British Columbia would have a lot more pests, diseases and just overall more plant pressures compared to that of the east. In the east most places have Chestnut Blight, Eastern Filbert blight, two diseases that have had small pop ups here in the west, but not to the level of over in the east. Eastern Filbert Blight actually decimated the hazelnut growing industry here in British Columbia back in the 1970’s and importation of any hazelnut material was banned for a time, and regulations still exist. I’m sure most folks here have heard how devastating Chestnut Blight is and was, but I’m glad it hasn’t made its way here in the west, it popped up in the southern province area I think back in the 80’s, but nothing came of it. The stories I’ve read say we still have American Chestnuts growing around the province, on old farmsteads/homesteads, secrets past on to generation to generation no doubt, it would be amazing to find just one growing out in the woods :laughing:


Thank you @vitog for clarifying the rules relating to the importation of seeds into Canada. As another British Columbian I realize how restrictive our BC importation regulations are. I stratified and grew a lot of trees from seed this year as rootstock is very hard to come by in British Columbia with our regulations. It’s nice to know that we can import seeds into British Columbia without violating any regulations. Thanks again for posting this info. :+1:


This was a related thread I started about the process to get a tree inspected by Washington state for import into Canada:

It went smoothly, but wasn’t exactly cheap, though also not as much as some people pay for mail order trees.


Ive heard the eastern filbert blight is pretty bad in the west. As almost the same in the east.

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there are alot of hybrid hazels bred and being bred to be immune to the blight. hopefully more so in the future. while American hazels arent as big as the euros they are naturally immune to the blight.