Backgrounder Article from  Health Canada

Proposed changes to the Personal Use Import Exemption in the Pest Control Products Regulations


Pesticides are registered in Canada only after a rigorous scientific evaluation determines that no harm to human health or the environment will result from exposure or use. Under the current Pest Control Products Act (PCPA), it is prohibited to manufacture, possess, handle, store, transport, import, distribute or use a pest control product (pesticide) that is not registered under the PCPA.

However, currently, Canadians are allowed to import pesticides for personal use (regardless of their registration status in Canada), when the pesticide is 500 g or 500 mL or less, and worth $100 or less. This exemption was originally put in place to allow travelers to carry small quantities of a pesticide (for example, personal insect repellants) across the border, as these products were generally considered to be low risk. 

Area of Concern

Currently, the personal use import exemption could allow the importation of small quantities of potentially highly toxic pesticides into the country. It also limits the ability of the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) to stop the importation of these pesticides since they have no authority under the PCPA to intercept them. (The CBSA is responsible for administering the PCPA at the border on behalf of Health Canada.)

Health Canada is concerned about the dangers of unregistered pesticides being brought into and used in Canada. These pesticides have not been assessed for safety by Health Canada, and may not be labeled or packaged properly for safe use in Canada. Such products can be dangerous and cause harm, including death – especially if used inappropriately.  

Canadians can obtain pesticides from foreign countries when traveling abroad, or from online shopping, and bring them into Canada without any regulatory oversight. That is why Health Canada is proposing changes to revise the current personal use import exemption, to prohibit certain unregistered pesticides from entering the country, in order to help protect the health and safety of Canadians. 

Current Exemption

An exemption in the PCPR allows unregistered pesticides to be imported into Canada, provided they are:

  • primarily for use by the importer in and around the home,
  • 500 g or 500 mL (or less), and
  • $100 or less.

Proposed changes to the exemption

The proposed changes would allow only unregistered pesticides that meet the following criteria to be imported:

  • imported directly by the importer for personal use (i.e., online purchases or deliveries would not be permitted),
  • 500 g or 500 mL (or less) per person,
  • it is equivalent to a Canadian registered domestic class product (the same active ingredient and concentration),
  • packaging and labeling is in either English or French,
  • it is in its original packaging with the original label intact, and
  • it must be registered or authorized for use in the country of origin (contains a government registration number on its packaging or label).

Next Steps

Health Canada published a proposed amendment to the Pest Control Products Regulations (Personal Use Import Exemption) in Canada Gazette, Part I on February 10, 2017. The consultation is now open for 30 days. Comments received during the consultation period will be considered in the drafting of the final amendment. The Department expects the new amendment to come into force in spring 2018.

Canadians can use Health Canada’s online pesticide label database or the Pesticide Labels mobile app to access information on all registered pesticides in Canada. These databases provide English and French labels with detailed information on pesticides including detailed use directions, safety precautions, first aid statements, and disposal instructions. Pesticide labels have detailed instructions and warnings that must be followed to protect health and the environment.

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Hon. Jane Philpott Health Canada Health and Safety

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