How to Import Fish into Canada : 9 Essential Steps

How to import fish into Canada

How to import fish into Canada

If you’re planning on importing fish into Canada, there are some important things you need to know. Canada is known for its strict regulations on importing fish, which is essential to protect the country’s environment and maintain the health and safety of Canadian citizens. In this article, we’ll discuss the process of how to import fish into Canada, the regulations you need to follow, and the necessary steps to ensure your fish is cleared for importing.

1. Understand the Regulations

Before importing fish into Canada, it’s crucial to understand the country’s regulations. You must comply with various regulations set by Canada’s authorities, such as the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), and the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA). These regulations cover various aspects of importing fish, including packaging, labeling, and transportation.

2. Determine the Requirements for Your Fish

Different fish species have varying requirements when it comes to importing them into Canada. For instance, if you plan to import live fish, you need to ensure they are packed to ensure their safety during transportation. On the other hand, if you’re planning to import fish fillets, fish cakes, or fish sticks, you need to ensure that they meet Canadian Standards of Identity, Composition, and Quality.

3. Obtain the Necessary Permits and Licenses

You must have the necessary permits and licenses before you can import fish into Canada. For instance, you need a CFIA Fish Import License, which allows you to import fish products into Canada. You’ll also need a Health of Animals Import Permit to bring live fish into Canada. Other permits you may need include Canadian Food Inspection Agency fish tags and permits for importing fish from specific countries.

4. Choose a Reliable Importer and Transporter

Choosing the right importer and transporter for your fish is vital. Work with an experienced importer that understands the Canadian regulations for importing fish, as well as the rules set by the exporting country. You must also work with a reputable transporter who can handle fish shipments and comply with the requirements set by the CFIA and the CBSA.

5. Label Your Fish Correctly

Proper labeling is crucial when importing fish into Canada. Make sure you have the correct labeling, including the common name, scientific name, and shell-life of the fish on the packaging. You should also label where the fish was caught or raised and the date it was harvested.

6. Ensure Compliance with Canadian Standards

Importing fish into Canada means that you need to ensure the fish meets the Canadian Standards. For fresh and frozen fish, ensure that the fish is healthy, fit for human consumption, and free from environmental contaminants. For processed fish products such as fish fillets, fish cakes, or fish sticks, ensure that they contain the proper amount of fish, are safe for human consumption, and meet Canadian criteria for quality.

7. Choose the Best Route for Your Fish

Choosing the right route is critical when importing fish into Canada. Your route should be effective, timely, and safe for your fish. Consider factors such as the distance, time, temperature, and the mode of transportation. Adequate packaging and storage are essential to protect the fish during transportation.

8. Provide Required Documentation to CBSA

As part of the fish importing process, you must provide the CBSA with all the necessary documentation. This includes the Fish Import License, Health of Animals Import Permit, and any other required permits and certificates. Ensure that all the documentation is complete and up to date before presenting it to CBSA.

9. Pay applicable Fees and Taxes

There are various fees and taxes that you’ll need to pay when importing fish into Canada. You may need to pay CBSA fees, such as the Goods and Services Tax (GST) or Harmonized Sales Tax (HST). You may also need to pay other fees or taxes depending on the type of fish you’re importing and the country of origin.

Importing fish into Canada can be a complicated process. However, by following the steps listed above, you’ll be able to navigate the regulations and requirements with ease. Always prioritize compliance with Canadian regulations and rules, and work with reputable importers and transporters to ensure the safe and timely delivery of your fish. With these precautions, you can successfully import fish into Canada and expand your business opportunities.


Canada is known for its diverse seafood industry, which is largely driven by imports. Importing fish into Canada is a complex process that requires adhering to various regulations and guidelines. This statistical report aims to provide an overview of the import of fish into Canada, including the types of fish imported, the major countries of origin, and the regulatory environment for importing fish.

Types of fish imported:

According to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), Canada imports a wide variety of fish and seafood products from all over the world. Based on data from 2019, some of the most commonly imported fish products include salmon, shrimp, tuna, crab, cod, and haddock. These fish are imported in various forms, including fresh, frozen, canned, and smoked.

Major countries of origin:

Canada imports fish and seafood from over 150 countries, with the majority coming from the United States, China, Japan, Norway, and Chile. The United States is the largest supplier of fish to Canada, supplying over 40% of all fish imports. China is the second-largest supplier, accounting for approximately 20% of all fish imports. Japan, Norway, and Chile account for around 10% each.

Regulatory environment:

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency is responsible for regulating fish imports into Canada. Importers must comply with various regulations, including those related to food safety, labelling, packaging, and traceability. For example, importers must provide documentation that proves the fish they are importing meets Canadian food safety standards. They must also ensure that the fish are labelled in accordance with Canadian labelling requirements, which include information on the product’s name, origin, and ingredients. Additionally, the fish must be packaged in a way that prevents contamination and ensures proper storage during transit. Traceability is also a critical component of the regulatory environment for importing fish. Importers must be able to trace the fish they import back to the source to ensure that it was legally harvested and is free from contaminants.


In conclusion, importing fish into Canada is a complex process that requires importers to comply with various regulations and guidelines. Canada imports a wide variety of fish products from over 150 countries, with the United States, China, Japan, Norway, and Chile being the major suppliers. The regulatory environment for importing fish is strict, with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency responsible for ensuring that imported fish meets Canadian food safety standards, labelling requirements, and packaging guidelines. Traceability is also a critical component of the regulatory environment, with importers required to provide documentation that proves the fish they import is legally harvested and free from contaminants.


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