Bringing Fresh Fruits, Fresh Vegetables, etc...

Posted date : Oct 17, 2007.Back to list

The simple message from both the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and the U.S. Department of Agriculture is – DECLARE ALL ITEMS AT YOUR POINT OF ENTRY.

This includes (but is not limited to):
  • Fresh fruit
  • Fresh vegetables
  • Plants
  • Plant products
  • Meat products
  • Dairy products
  • Live animals
Failure to declare, especially attempts to conceal items, for example inside clothing, luggage, or the storage cupboards in an RV could result in:
  • Automatic seizure of the item(s).
  • Significant monetary fines.
  • Being detained, turned back, or banned from entering the United States.
In addition to general national import restrictions, some states, including Florida, Texas and California may have even more restrictive entry requirements if that is your final travel destination. While perhaps this may seem like an unnecessary inconvenience, restrictions on the importation of fruits, vegetables, plants, plant products, meat products, and live animals help to safeguard each country’s agriculture by preventing the entry of new agricultural pests and diseases (e.g. an insect that may be easily controlled in Canada’s harsher climate that could multiply in the warm climate of Florida).

In recent years, especially in the wake of BSE (mad cow disease) detection in some Canadian-born beef and avian influenza (bird flu) symptoms in some poultry, sweeping bans were imposed on the transportation of any ruminant meat or meat products across the Canada/U.S. border. This included such items as cow, sheep, goats, deer, moose, buffalo, bison, musk ox, elk, caribou, and antelope. This ban included fresh, frozen, and cooked food items. It also included meat-based pet foods manufactured in the other country.

The U.S. has several agencies which administer specific responsibilities. In addition to checking the CSA website or calling the CSA office for information, you can also contact the various U.S. departments to discuss your specific travel needs:

U.S. Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS)
Telephone (301) 734-3277

APHIS is responsible for protecting the U.S. animal and plant resources from agricultural pests and diseases that threaten the food supply (e.g. BSE in beef cattle).

U.S. Department of Agriculture – Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) (meat and poultry)
Telephone (202) 720-9904

FSIS is responsible for ensuring the U.S. supply of meat, poultry and egg products is safe, wholesome, and correctly labelled and packaged.

U.S. Food and Drug Administration
Telephone (301) 443-6553

In Canada the responsibility to regulate the importation of fruits, vegetables and meat is handled by:

Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA)
Telephone 1-800-442-2342

Toll-free Western Service Centre 1-888-732-6222
Toll-free Central Service Centre 1-800-835-4486
Toll-free Eastern Service Centre 1-877-493-0468

As travel restrictions can change week-by-week, members should check the CSA website, contact the CSA office, or telephone the CFIA immediately prior to returning to Canada to determine what items obtained in the U.S. will be allowed back into Canada.

Notice to Travellers
The information provided below has been compiled as a general guide and is not intended to be a comprehensive or all-inclusive list. If in doubt, or for more information, please contact the specific U.S. Customs and Border Protection Service office at the Canada/U.S. border crossing you are planning to use before starting your trip.

Please note some states; including Florida, Texas, and California, may have more restrictive entry requirements than those listed if that is your final destination. Information is also available at the website

All categories of items contained in this bulletin MUST BE DECLARED at the time of entry into the United States regardless of whether they are allowed or not. You could be assessed a SIGNIFICANT MONETARY PENALTY for not declaring all such items as well as possibly being banned from entering the United States.


  • As a general rule, fruits grown in Canada are allowed.
  • Fruits not grown in Canada or the U.S. are restricted and not allowed. If there is any doubt as to the fruit’s country of origin, it is not allowed. It would be helpful to leave stickers on and keep fruit in the original store package.
  • U.S. citrus fruit is allowed only if sealed in their original box or bag. U.S. citrus fruits that are loose, mixed, or not sealed in their original box or bags are not allowed. All other citrus fruits are not allowed.
  • Tropical fruits are not grown in Canada and are not allowed. This includes, but is not limited to, oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruit, mangoes, rambutans, leeches, and longans.
  • Bananas labelled as coming from South or Central America are allowed.
  • Fruits that can be grown in Canada but are obviously out-of-season (e.g. grapes or peaches in the winter) are not likely to be of Canadian origin and are not allowed.
  • Many fresh vegetables grown in Canada are allowed. Vegetables not grown in Canada or the U.S. are restricted or not allowed. If there is any doubt as to the vegetable’s country of origin, it is not allowed. It would be helpful to leave stickers on and keep vegetables in the original store package.
  • Potatoes, carrots, and other root crops from Québec, Newfoundland and Labrador, and British Columbia are restricted or not allowed.
  • Onions, garlic, leeks, shallots, and related vegetables are restricted or not allowed from all provinces.
  • Corn-on-the-cob for human consumption is allowed into Michigan but must be treated for insects if going to any western or southern states.
  • All commercially packaged hard frozen vegetables are allowed.
  • Meats, meat products, and animal by-products from ruminant animals of Canadian origin are not allowed. This includes frozen, cooked, canned or otherwise processed, including meat in sandwiches that you may have packed to eat on your journey. See below for exceptions. Ruminants include cows, sheep and goats.
  • Travellers are cautioned that homemade foods such as lasagne, stews, chilli, spaghetti sauce, etc., are unlikely to pass inspection if the U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers cannot determine whether or not they contain beef.
  • Hunter-harvested bison, buffalo, goat, antelope, musk ox, sheep or yak which are eviscerated, headless, and accompanied by a valid hunting license are allowed. If not hunter-harvested, these animals are not allowed.
  • Caribou, deer, elk, moose and reindeer are allowed with our without head and eviscerated or not eviscerated provided that the type of animal can be determined or proven with documentation.
  • All pet foods made in Canada are not allowed. Pet foods in original packaging clearly labelled “Product of USA” or “Made in the USA” are allowed.
  • Meats and meat products (fresh, frozen or cooked) from swine or fish of Canadian origin are allowed. Quantities over 50 lbs require inspection by the USDA Food Safety Inspection Service.
  • Hard cheese without meat is allowed from all countries.
  • Other dairy products for human consumption and of Canadian origin are allowed.
  • Cooked poultry and eggs of Canadian origin are allowed. Uncooked poultry and eggs are prohibited during outbreaks of avian diseases in Canada.
  • All cut flowers of Canadian origin are restricted. Inspection is required.
  • Firewood is not allowed unless accompanied by a valid Canadian government phytosanitary certificate. Travellers with prohibited firewood will be returned to Canada to dispose of the firewood.
  • All plants, whether indoor or outdoor, must be accompanied by either:
  • An original Canadian phytosanitary certificate or
  • A yellow Greenhouse certification program sticker
  • Phytosanitary certificates or greenhouse certification program stickers may be available from the business where the plants are purchased. Please check before purchasing.
  • All plants in soil from Québec, British Columbia, and Newfoundland and Labrador are restricted or not allowed.
  • Some plants are not allowed. These include, but are not limited to, bamboo, citrus, barberry and Oregon grape plants.
  • Some plants have special entry requirements due to their endangered species status. These include, but are not limited to, orchid, palm, cactus and Venus flytrap plants.
  • A number of other plants must also meet special entry requirements. These include, but are not limited to, many fruit trees, bushes and vines.
  • Fresh cut fir and spruce trees for personal use in Michigan are allowed. Cut pine trees are restricted or not allowed.
  • As a general rule, nuts and seeds of Canadian origin are allowed. If there is doubt as to where they were grown, they will be considered to be non-Canadian origin.
  • Nuts and seeds of non-Canadian origin may be restricted or not allowed. Inspection is required. Please note that these restrictions apply to both raw and cooked nuts and seeds.
  • Berberis, Mahonia and Mahoberberis seeds are not allowed.
  • An original phytosanitary certificate or seed analysis certificate must accompany all other plant seeds of Canadian origin. These seeds must be grown in Canada, not just packed in Canada.
  • Seeds of non-Canadian origin are restricted or not allowed.
  • All pet food made in Canada is not allowed.
  • Uncooked rice grown outside the U.S. is restricted. Inspection is required.
  • Dried citrus fruit and citrus peel are not allowed.
  • Most other commercially packaged dried fruits and vegetables are allowed.
  • Commercially canned and commercially frozen fruits and vegetables are generally allowed.
  • Bakery goods without meat (breads, bagels, doughnuts, pies, cakes) are allowed from all countries.
  • Dogs and cats must be healthy. Dogs also require current rabies certificates.
  • Pet birds are restricted. Examination is required.
  • Rodents from Africa, civets and non-commercial ruminant animals are not allowed.
  • Please contact the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Service (import/export specialist) for specific requirements for your pet or live animal before travelling to the United States.
  • Wines, spirits, beer and other alcoholic beverages are allowed, whether home-made or store-bought, subject to the same duty-free limits as any U.S. citizen returning home to the United States from a vacation abroad. The duty-free limit is 1L (litre) per legal-age adult. Additional quantities may be allowed subject to paying the applicable low-cost duty.
  • Cuban-origin cigars and other Cuban-origin tobacco products are not allowed even for personal use or to be used as a gift.
  • Prescription medication, for your own personal use, may be allowed provided the quantity does not exceed what you would normally take for the number of days you will be in the United States (e.g. a three-month supply if you will be in the U.S. for three months). Please note, however, that individual U.S. border inspectors do have the discretion to not allow foreign-obtained medication into the United States regardless if it is for your personal use or not. It is a discretionary decision.
  • All medication must be in its original pharmacy-issued packaging with dispensary label intact showing your name and other pertinent information. Do not consolidate medication in larger single containers to save space.
  • If you require a variety of different prescription and non-prescription medications, it may be helpful to carry a physician’s note explaining your condition and your daily medication routine. This may be particularly helpful if a specific over-the-counter medication you purchased in Canada happens to be classified as a restricted prescription-only medication in the U.S. and you do not have a proper pharmacy dispensary label on the packaging.
  • U.S. Customs limits the transportation of over-the-counter medications that contain controlled substances, such as codeine, to 50 dosage units regardless of your medical condition or the time you will be in the United States.
  • If you have any questions as to whether a specific medication may be imported into the United States, please contact the FDA, Division of Import Operations and Policy, at (301) 443-6553.
  • If you have any questions regarding the importation of a controlled substance into the United States, please contact the Drug Enforcement Administration, Office of Diversion Control, International Drug Unit, at (202) 307-2414.
  • Please inspect and clean items that is used or stored out-of-doors such as boats (aquatic weeds), RV’s (Gypsy Moth eggs) and outdoor furniture before bringing them into the United States.
To read more articles like this, view the Travellers’ Information Guide in the CSA Publications section of this website.

The content of this information bulletin is provided for general information only and is accurate as of the date of issue (see above). The information is subject to further updates or revisions without notice.