In a move which will affect international on-line retailers of various types of personal pest control products such as common insect repellants, Health Canada formally given notice of its intention to prohibit the importation of even limited quantity pest control products through regulatory changes to Canada’s Pest Control Products Act (PCPA).

Unregulated Small Quantity Imports Targeted

Currently, consumers in Canada may import limited quantities of pest control products for personal use without their registration under PCPA, which requires assessment, approval and ongoing reporting obligations.  Canadians may, for example, buy up to 500 g or 500 mL: of insect repellant ($100 maximum value) on-line from any international source without triggering any regulatory obligations. This exemption was originally enacted to permit travelers to carry small quantities of a personal insect repellant into Canada without regulatory oversight.  Times have changed.

Consistent with Environment Canada’s Chemical Management Plan (CMP) re-assessment of current chemical importations, Health Canada has expressed concern over the risks of unregistered pest control products being used in Canada. As pest control products are regulated under the PCPA and therefore exempt from assessment under the CMP, they have can be dispersed across Canada without labelling or packaging requirements regardless of the dangers they might pose to health, safety or the environment.

On-line Retailers Targeted in Upcoming Ban

With the profusion of on-line sales of pest control products from a wide variety of international vendors, Health Canada has extended the PCPA registration obligations to those products sold into Canada and has severely restricted personal importations of unregistered products to:

  • direct personal use imports only (no online purchases or international deliveries permitted),
  • 500 g or 500 mL (or less) per person (the quantities are unchanged),
  • the unregistered product must be equivalent to a Canadian registered class product with the same active ingredient at the same concentration,
  • in original packaging with the original label intact, and
  • it must be registered or authorized for use in the country of origin (containing equivalent registration number to PCPA registration); and
  • English or French packaging and labeling

In other words, the pest control product would effectively have to meet all of the registration requirements of the PCPA – only the registration itself would be waived.

Register and Avoid the Border Guards

The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) is tasked with administering the PCPA at the border as a proxy for Health Canada.  That a personal importer could prove that their product meets these PCPA equivalency standards at the border appears fanciful, making virtually any unregistered pest control product unlikely to pass CBSA scrutiny.

With this virtual prohibition, international retailers will want to make the effort to register their pest control products in Canada and avoid sales disruptions and possible liabilities for, directly or indirectly, violating the impending PCPA regulation change, which is anticipated by spring 2018.


Jonathan D. Cocker heads Baker McKenzie’s Environmental Practice Group in Canada and is an active member of the firm's Global Consumer Goods & Retail and Energy, Mining and Infrastructure groups. Mr. Cocker provides advice and representation to multinational companies on a variety of environmental and product compliance matters, including extended producer responsibilities, dangerous goods transportation, GHS, regulated wastes, consumer product and food safety, and contaminated lands matters. He assisted in the founding of one of North America’s first Circular Economy Producer Responsibility Organizations and provides advice and representation to a number of domestic and international industry groups in respect of resource recovery obligations. Mr. Cocker was recently appointed the first Sustainability Officer of the International Bar Association Mr. Cocker is a frequent speaker and writer on environmental issues and has authored numerous publications including recent publications in the Environment and Climate Change Law Review, Detritus – the Official Journal of the International Waste Working Group, Chemical Watch, Circular Economy: Global Perspectives published by Springer, and in the upcoming Yale University Journal of Industrial Ecology’s special issue on Material Efficiency for Climate Change Mitigation. Mr. Cocker maintains a blog focused upon international resource recovery issues at