Import of Restricted Feeder Cattle from the United States

This page is part of the Guidance Document Repository (GDR).

Looking for related documents?
Search for related documents in the Guidance Document Repository


This policy replaces "AHPD-DSAE-IE-2007-6-1 Import of Restricted Feeder Cattle from the United States", and "TAHD-DSAT-IE-2012-16-2 Import of Restricted Feeder Cattle from the United States to a Terminal Feedlot".

The intent of the restricted feeder cattle program is to allow animals to be imported into Canada without test requirements on a year-round basis but with proper identification and certification for placement in feeding operations with subsequent movement to slaughter within the time frame expected for animals of a similar age.

Feeder cattle: Restricted feeder cattle may be steers, heifers, bulls, cows, or weaned calves imported for the purpose of fattening and slaughter. Cows with calves at foot, cows or heifers heavy in calf, or unweaned calves (including calves on milk replacer) do not meet the criteria for a restricted feeder animal and are not permitted entry to Canada under the provisions of the program.

Feedlot: A premises or location where cattle are being maintained for feeding and finishing to market weight, followed by movement to a slaughter plant in Canada or the United States (US). The movement of all cattle in a feedlot, including Canadian animals present in the feedlot during the entire period that the imported cattle are resident in the feedlot, must only be direct to slaughter or to another feedlot approved by the CFIA to import restricted feeders. Whenever possible, any secondary premises where the imported animals will be resident should be identified and approved by the CFIA at the time of the original import application. No animal that comes from the feedlot may be moved to any other premises or through a sales facility in Canada, and is not eligible to enter (or re-enter) the Canadian national herd. The restrictions and need for documented record keeping apply to all animals in the designated feedlot that is housing imported animals, unless there is an approved separation between yards.

Approved Separation Definition (For facilities approved after June 1st, 2017)

A minimum of 30 feet of separation, no common or shared handling facilities or equipment, no common watering or feeding equipment, and no common vehicles that enter the premises of herds of different status. Also, if herds of different status are fed by the same personnel, workers must wear different outerwear (e.g., boots and coveralls) when moving from an approved feedlot to a higher status herd.

Approved feedlots are required to have a cleaning protocol if the next use of the facility is for cattle not part of the restricted feeder program.

Pasture lots are not considered to meet the requirements of an approved feedlot as part of this program.

Importation of all cattle to Canada is controlled under Section 12.(1) of the Health of Animals Regulations which requires an import permit that specifies the manner and conditions for importation as well as any additional requirements.

Import permit issuance requires an application to be submitted and prior approval of a location with supporting evidence that the terms and conditions of the requirements will be complied with. A permit must be issued before animals arrive at a port of entry for import.

Application for an Import Permit

  1. The applicant must be a Canadian resident or corporation.
  2. An application for a permit, Form CFIA/ACIA 5083 – Application for Permit to Import, must be made in writing and submitted to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency Centre of Administration, which can be contacted at:

    Phone number: 1-855-212-7695
    Fax: 289-247-4068

  3. The applicant must also submit a diagram of the layout of the premises and documentation outlining the feedlot management practices to facilitate a review of the ability to carry out any of the required risk management measures.
  4. CFIA staff, accompanied by the feedlot operator, must perform an initial inspection of the operation. On subsequent visits, the feedlot operator’s representative may accompany CFIA staff, but someone from the operation must accompany CFIA on all visits.
  5. During the CFIA inspection visit, the feeding operation must demonstrate the following:
    1. facilities for the handling and tracking of newly imported cattle;
    2. protocols that will complete any required post-entry procedures;
    3. maintenance of records; and
    4. a records management system that tracks movements of animals into and within the feedlot or between feedlots, and from the feedlot to a slaughter facility, and that provides confirmation of slaughter.

Inspection fees are charged for premises visits and payment of this fee does not guarantee a permit will be issued.

Import Requirements

  1. Certification statements to appear on the health certificate:

    The animals in the shipment must be accompanied by a certificate of an official veterinarian of the United States or a certificate of a veterinarian endorsed by an official veterinarian of the United States, which states:

    1. the animals were born after January 1, 1999, in the United States or Canada, and have resided in either country for their entire life;
    2. the animals are identified by a permanent identification system recognized by the United States Department of Agriculture and are not under restriction for movement, slaughter, or destruction control;
    3. for at least sixty (60) days immediately prior to export, the cattle were continuously resident in an exporting state that is designated by the United States Department of Agriculture as a tuberculosis accredited-free state, and a cattle brucellosis class free state;
    4. the animals were inspected by a veterinarian within thirty (30) days preceding the date of importation, and it was determined that:
      1. the animals are free from any communicable disease;
      2. the animals were, to the best of the knowledge and belief of a veterinarian, not exposed to any communicable disease within sixty (60) days preceding the date of the inspection;
      3. the animals are fit to travel and can be transported to Canada without undue suffering by reason of infirmity, illness, injury, fatigue, or any other cause; and
      4. to the best of the knowledge and belief of the certifying veterinarian, the heifers/cows in the shipment are not in the second half of pregnancy, and young stock included in the shipment have been weaned and are not on milk replacer.
    5. Additional Information

      The official health certificate must also include:

      1. the name and address of the importer;
      2. the location of the importing feedlot;
      3. the name and address of the exporter;
      4. Identification - Option A

        Restricted Feeder Cattle identified with USDA metal tags or other USDA approved identifiers must include age (in years), sex, breed, colour, markings, and any other identification present on the animal on the export health certificate.

        Identification - Option B:

        Restricted Feeder Cattle identified with the NAIS compliant "840" radio frequency "RF" eartags (either half-duplex or full-duplex frequency with an official identification number following the ISO 11784 and ISO 3166-1 standards.) are not required to include breed, colour, markings, and any other identification present on the animal. Animals bearing approved 840 RFID tags only need to be further identified on the export health certificate by the age in years and sex.

      5. the CFIA import number
  2. Vehicle Sealing
    1. Official United States Department of Agriculture or State seals must be applied by the accredited veterinarian to all animal exits from the truck(s) or trailer(s) transporting the shipment following loading.
    2. The seal numbers and the number of animals in the shipment must be recorded on the certificate and initialed to verify their application.
  3. Documentation for Importation and Border Requirements
    1. All cattle exported to Canada as a restricted feeder must be accompanied by an original export certificate and one copy of that certificate.
    2. If the shipment is contained in several vehicles, the original plus one copy of the certificate must be in the first vehicle to the Canadian port of entry. Each subsequent vehicle must carry two copies of the export certificate, one of which has recorded the numbers of the seals applied to the vehicle and the number of animals in the vehicle.
    3. Two copies of the permit issued to import restricted feeder cattle into Canada must accompany every shipment.
    4. Upon arrival at a port of entry, the shipment of restricted feeder cattle must be presented to Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) personnel accompanied by the documentation listed above.
    5. CBSA will release the shipment if all documents are presented and in order. A cursory examination of the shipment will be made by CBSA and if issues of non-compliance or welfare are noted CFIA shall be requested to inspect the load at the port of entry.
  4. Inspection at Destination – Approved Feedlot
    1. The importer shall notify the CFIA district office of the date of arrival of the cattle as far in advance as possible, but no later than twenty-four (24) hours prior to arrival of the animals. The details for inspection at destination must be provided, or arrangements must be made for CFIA inspection.
    2. Upon arrival at the feedlot, the seals may be broken and the cattle unloaded in a manner acceptable to an inspector designated under the Health of Animals Act.
    3. The animals must be presented for inspection and processing, as specified, within forty-eight (48) hours of arrival. Inspection may be performed by provincial authorities in the course of other functions or a private veterinarian performing service on behalf of the feedlot; otherwise, service will be performed by CFIA staff at the applicable fee. To aid in verification, the importer will provide a list of USA origin cattle showing cross reference of CCIA tags to USDA tags and management tags. Typically, inspection and verification of identification will be done at a 15-percent level, unless non-compliance is observed. If a non-compliance is observed, the inspection rate for that shipment should be increased to 100%. Any concerns should be immediately reported to the CFIA district office in charge of the feedlot for further follow-up as deemed necessary.

Standards for Operation of Feedlot Approved to Import Restricted Feeder Cattle

Upon arrival at the approved feedlot:

  1. The imported animals must be presented for inspection.
  2. Cattle imported as restricted feeders must be promptly identified with a Canadian Cattle Identification Agency (CCIA) tag, or if in Quebec, with an Agri-Traçabilité Québec (ATQ) tag. Should United States Department of Agriculture tags be used, the importer must maintain a record cross-referencing the Canadian tag applied to each imported animal with the United States Department of Agriculture ear tag and the feedlot management tag. United States Department of Agriculture tags, if present, must not be removed from imported animals.

    Imported animals that are identified with US identifiers that have been deemed equivalent by the responsible administrator to Canadian identification tags do not have to be re-tagged upon arrival in Canada. However, tag information must still be reported to the CFIA and the respective animal identification agency as required by the Health of Animals Regulations.

  3. The CCIA/ATQ eartags used to identify the imported animals and information about the origin of each animal must be reported to the CFIA and the respective animal identification agency within the period prescribed by the Health of Animals Regulations.
  4. All other cattle in the feedlot, in addition to the imported animals, must bear a CCIA tag, and records of identification and location in the feedlot must be maintained in the records database.
  5. CCIA/ATQ tags must be reported as retired or exported to both the CFIA and the respective animal identification agency within the period prescribed by Health of Animals Regulations. If the feedlot is not able to provide the list of CCIA tags of cattle going to slaughter at the time of shipment, a verifiable method of audit reporting that accounts for restricted feeders and Canadian cattle sent to slaughter and remaining in the feedlot suitable to the CFIA district veterinarian must be presented at the time of premises approval. This process is only available for cattle going directly to slaughter in Canada. CCIA identification must be provided for all cattle transferring to another approved feedlot at the time of transfer.

Record Keeping

  1. The operator of an approved feedlot must maintain a record-keeping system that can document the movements of all animals into the feedlot, within the feedlot, and from the feedlot. Methods must be in place to track all cattle within the feedlot and their movement to slaughter, to export, or to another approved feedlot. All cattle in the feedlot housing imported animals are not permitted to move out of the feedlot for any purpose other than movement to slaughter, export, to another approved feedlot or disposal as a carcass. The record-keeping system must be capable of storing information for a period not less than one year after the last imported animal has left the feedlot.
  2. It is the responsibility of the importer to ensure that the imported animals are managed in accordance with the import permit and associated import policy from the time of entry into Canada to the time of slaughter or export.

Animal Health Records

  1. Feedlots should be monitored for signs of disease by feedlot personnel and/or veterinarians on a daily basis.
  2. Records must be kept, as required by a licensed veterinarian, to document treatment for animals in the feedlot, and must include reports for any post-mortem diagnosis made by the veterinarian on animals that die while in the feedlot.
  3. If the feedlot operator or veterinarian performing duties in the feedlot is aware of any significant increase in feedlot morbidity or mortality above what is typical for that feedlot and which the veterinarian cannot explain, then the CFIA District Veterinarian shall be contacted by the veterinarian and they will jointly conduct a disease investigation to determine that the increase in disease occurrence is not due to a reportable disease.
  4. Should any disease reportable under the Health of Animals Act be diagnosed in an animal or animals in a feedlot approved to import restricted feeders, the CFIA shall be immediately notified. The importer must keep the affected animal(s) separate and may apply treatment for clinical manifestations of disease under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian where approved.
  5. The feedlot must have an effective protocol to determine and terminate pregnancies. This should be developed by the feedlot veterinarian as appropriate for the age and risk of pregnancy and is to be reviewed and approved by CFIA. Controls must be demonstrated at the time of approval for the disposal of expelled material on the premises and without exposure to other animals nor interference by domestic or wild canines. Any animal that aborts in the feedlot outside the time frame expected by treatment for pregnancy termination must be reported immediately to the CFIA.

Post Import Audits

  1. First Visit – Post-Arrival Imported Cattle

    The operator of a feedlot acquiring restricted feeder cattle must have ready by the fifteenth (15)day after the import of a group of animals the following documentation:

    1. the export health certificate(s) that accompanied all import shipments and records for breaking of seals if not performed by CFIA staff;
    2. confirmation of inspection of imported feeders at the feedlot if not performed by the CFIA; and the records of the CCIA/ATQ tag numbers applied to imported animals matched to the U.S. tag number and management tag.
    3. record of pen allocation correlated with the identification listed on the export health certificate(s) for imported animals, and the CCIA/ATQ identification and pen allocation of all other animals that constitute the feedlot containing imported animals;
    4. records of program-mandated inspection of imported cattle;
    5. results of any post-mortem diagnosis made by a licensed veterinarian on imported cattle; and
    6. movements of Canadian cattle from the feedlot for slaughter since the arrival of the imported feeders.
  2. Post-Arrival Audits

    On-site audits of feedlots housing imported animals are to occur at least on a quarterly (every three months) basis to examine and verify the following records:

    1. records of pen allocation correlated with identification for imported animals and the pen allocation, and numbers for all other animals that constitute the feedlot containing imported animals;
    2. results of any post-mortems performed by a licensed veterinarian on all cattle since the arrival of imported animals; and
    3. movement of all the cattle, as required in the "Record Keeping" section, since the arrival of the imported animals, or the last audit visit, and the records for confirmation of slaughter.

    Private veterinarians who perform services for the feedlot may perform the audit functions and submit reports to CFIA district offices at the required time intervals. The activity of private veterinarians is subject to oversight by CFIA veterinarians, or where the audit function cannot be performed by a private veterinarian, a CFIA veterinarian will perform the service. Feedlots are responsible for the cost of having private veterinarians or approved provincial authorities perform functions.

    The CFIA district office may, at their discretion, increase the frequency of the post-arrival audits if any non-compliance is observed.

  3. Feedlots must arrange to provide notification to CFIA district offices by fax or other means prior to, or at the time of, departure of animals to a slaughter location or movement to another approved feedlot. The information, at a minimum, must include the number of both restricted feeders and Canadian animals leaving and the destination (plant for slaughter or other approved feedlot).
  4. CFIA oversight will include random searches of the CCIA database to confirm the disposition of animals reported as going to slaughter in Canada or exported to the U.S.
  5. Audits may be increased or may take place at any time where compliance with the requirements of the program is in doubt.
  6. A feedlot remains subject to all audit conditions between the time of the import of the first group of U.S. animals and the feedlot being completely empty of all the imported animals. However, after the imported animals have vacated the feedlot, one additional health record, submitted up to three months later, must be provided to the CFIA district office for review.

Permit Cancellation

  1. An import permit may be cancelled at the request of the applicant.
  2. An import permit may be canceled by notification by the CFIA to the permit holder following identification of a deficiency or non-compliance.
  3. Where an import permit has been canceled, the import permit may be re-issued following re-application and demonstration of correction of the deficiency.
  4. Import permits will not be re-issued to a premises that has been found to contravene the permit conditions.
Date modified: