Steps for Shipping Equine Semen to Canada During the Current CEM Restrictions

By Jos Mottershead and Kathy St. Martin

It should be noted that while this article is correct at the time of going to press (April 2010), the regulations may change at any given time. You are therefore advised to confirm currency of all information and forms contained herein with CFIA and/or USDA prior to collection and shipment of semen. This is a guide only and should not be taken as definitive. Current regulations can be obtained through the Canadian Automated Import Reference System

Importation of semen from the USA to Canada is not insurmountable with the new regulations - indeed, they are essentially the same as the "old" regulations that were in place before the border opened to semen movement about 10 years ago - but they may prove impossible for some who want to ship cooled semen because of time-lines. The steps are as follows: By April of 2009, with the requirement that all semen - including cooled - imported from the USA to Canada be accompanied by both an import permit and a Zoosanitary Certificate endorsed by USDA, it was recognized that this presented a problem for many breeders in that time constraints prevented the obtaining of the USDA endorsement before the courier shipment deadline. Hence, many US stallions owners ceased to ship cooled semen to Canada. CFIA made an optional adjustment in that if desired the semen can be shipped with a copy of the Zoosanitary Certificate unendorsed by USDA, provided that the certificate is endorsed by USDA prior to the semen arriving at the border and being presented for clearance. Upon receipt, USDA will endorse the certificate, and transmit a copy of it to the CFIA Import Service Center ("ISC"), returning the original to the issuing veterinarian or farm. When the semen arrives at the import point, CBSA (Canada Border Services Agency) personnel refer the importation clearance to the ISC, who then review their faxed permit file and issue an order for the release of the semen as long as they have had a copy of the applicable Zoosanitary Certificate faxed to them by USDA. There is a Cdn$35 charge for CFIA clearing semen in this manner. It is unknown what USDA charges for this service. Contact information for the Canada's National Import Service Center is presented on the CFIA web site at [As of the end of May 2020 this service has been discontinued.]

As one can see, it's not difficult, but there are some specific steps that must be completed. If they are not, then the semen will be rejected at the time of inspection by CBSA. The requirement for endorsement by USDA-Aphis in particular is the item that may produce impossible time constraints for some. Obviously frozen semen will permit longer time-delays.

Note that there are NO differences as to the region where the horse is located. Some Internet bulletin board posts that we have seen reference the stallion being in a "CEM free zone", a "State not currently affected" or from a "USDA Certified CEM-Free farm" and that it might make a difference, but it makes no difference to the import requirements. It is semen from ALL farms and ALL of the USA that must be certified in the manner described!

"Zoosanitary Export Certificate for Semen" Declaration wording:

The horse semen is certified as free of Contagious Equine Metritis (CEM) as follows:
  1. The donor animal(s), from which the germplasm for export to Canada was sourced, have been examined and found to be healthy and free from any clinical evidence of communicable or infectious disease and, as far as can be determined, exposure thereto, during every procedure related to the collection of the germplasm.
  2. The donor horse(s) have not been on a premise where T.equigenitalis has been isolated during the 60 days immediately preceding collection of the semen for export to Canada or premises currently under quarantine or investigation for CEM.
  3. The semen was processed using an extender that contains antibiotics effective against T.equigenitalis.
  4. The semen is in individual receptacles or straws, each marked with the collection date, identity of the donor and the semen collection premises.

   The semen was legally imported into the U.S. for unrestricted use.
   Country where semen was collected: [insert country of origin]

Originally published by 02/18/2009, with updates added 04/27/2009, 05/31/2017
Reviewed for content currency 04/22/2010, 05/31/2017
Current regulations can be obtained through the Canadian Automated Import Reference System
Use "semen" in the commodity search, then "equine (horse)" in the subsequent search field, then answer the questions appropriately.

© 2010 Jos Mottershead and
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