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So I thought it would be a nice idea to post exactly my experience as I know many BCA members have asked this on multiple occasions. The process is pretty simple.

For my current import, I was able to source out some great looking wild discus at a great price. I shared the order with another BCA member. For me, finding the right fish is the toughest part and the most important part. I would always try to buy local if possible but as many of you know that's not always easy. So please, ask our local sponsors if they can get what you need first before trying this. I did that first. Not being able to find wild red discus locally at this time, I decided to try my hand at bringing in some fish myself. In my limited experience, here's the key factors to consider before even trying it:

  • Check to see if the fish is available locally. Why bother importing and taking on more effort and risk if you don't have to
  • Check out CBSA and CFIA to ensure that what you want to import is allowable in Canada
  • Make sure vendor knows how to ship to Canada. Many don't. Make sure they have experience in exporting to Canada
  • Make sure you schedule the shipping so that it can arrive at a convenient time for you

Step 1: So as I mentioned above, this import was for some wild discus, coming from California. I checked the CFIA website first to make sure its allowable. Importation of Pet Aquatic Animals - Animals - Canadian Food Inspection Agency Within this page, there's a link that shows susceptible species lists. If your fish is on this list, then you will need a permit to import which may make it not really worthwhile anymore but that's up to you. Normally with government that usually just means you have to pay money and fill out more forms. HOWEVER, if you look a little further down on the first page, there is a Pet Aquatic Animal Exemption. This exemption is meant for personal (non commercial) importation of specific fish from the susceptible species list. Discus luckily being one of them! So I filled out the form and brought it with me when I picked up the fish. It's basically a declaration saying you are bringing in the fish for personal use. Here's the form. http://www.inspection.gc.ca/DAM/DAM-animals-animaux/STAGING/text-texte/c5685_1337093551531_eng.pdf The list of fish that you could get this exemption for is quite short. So if you really wanted to do this still, you could go the route of getting a permit. Check this out if you need to go that route. Aquatic Animal Imports - Animals - Canadian Food Inspection Agency More forms and fees and work but if you can't get what you want locally, then why not.

Step 2: Timing of delivery. This is one that I should have done a better job on but with airlines, sometimes there's not much you can do. The shipment was flying out of LA in the morning via Southwest, with a stop over in Vegas, then to Vancouver via Westjet. Original scheduled arrival was about 5pm. Great. Of course, that didn't happen, and the delivery came in after midnight. Most air cargo (at least the cargo that I've shipped from the US) appear to get distributed at logistics companies, not directly by the airlines. For Westjet and some other airlines, this company is Menzies Aviation. It's just before you get to the YVR terminal, among those warehouses on the south side of the main road. See map. Its real easy to find. A Map to 3611 Jericho Road, Vancouver International Airport (YVR), Richmond, BC V7B 1C2, Canada It's the building half way down the page on Jericho Road and Bella Bella Road.

This of course lead to a problem. Menzies is only open until midnight, so since the flight didn't arrive til 1230AM, I couldn't pick it up until they opened again at 5AM the next day. Just be aware, Menzies won't usually have the cargo ready for a few hours after the flight arrives, so plan for that. The fish should be fine if your vendor has experience in packing for cold weather. I was told by Menzies to call them before going, but I couldn't get anyone to answer the phone at 5AM, so I just went anyway. I don't live far away so it wasn't a big deal. Low and behold, I get there and the guy says the fish isn't in the warehouse yet, check back in another hour or so. Sigh....off the McDonalds for a coffee. I go back at 730AM and the guy had all my documentation ready. Perfect. Off to CBSA office to clear customs.

Step 3: Clear Customs. Menzies will give you the detailed air waybill that was attached to the boxes (which they stamp to show CBSA that they possess the number of packages that you are trying to clear). This is what you will need to provide to CBSA. Also make sure you have an invoice clearly indicating the fish you purchased. Make sure the vendor puts the scientific name on there. There are multiple CBSA offices in YVR, however the only one that's guaranteed to be opened 24/7 is the office just outside the Arrivals area on the main floor of the Main Terminal. Easy to find. You can't miss it. Take the paper work and your Importation form as mentioned above and give it to the agent. My agent reminded me of Roz from Monsters Inc. She was pretty grouchy. I told her what I wanted and I guess she thought I was a commercial importer and pointed to the computer (I guess the commercial guys do their own data entry). Then I said no, its personal. Then she barked that I need permits. I said, no, I don't. I told her I called CFIA and they told me to just bring the form in, pay your taxes and that's it. She grumbled something and she went and started keying away at her desk. Our tax dollars at work here. She came back, called another clerk to collect money from me and I was outta there! Having traveled extensively, I know better than to piss off customs agents. You just never know when you might get the rubber glove treatment! That's to be avoided at all costs. LOL. So bite your tongue, stay quiet and keep your comments to yourself or at least till you get home and post on your forum. So I just paid HST, and was given my forms back with the appropriate CBSA stamps.

Step 4: Back to Menzies. Now that I have my customs cleared documentation I returned to Menzies and gave it to them. They collected their fee....yes, of course there's a fee. LOL. For 3 boxes, it was $60. Not bad at all. It's done by weight so I guess about $1 a pound or so. Anyways, by that time, I am just happy that my fish are minutes away from moving to their new home. The young girl that worked there wasn't a hell of a lot better than CBSA. Maybe it was just too early in the AM. Anyways, monies paid, she gave me a piece of paper and I was directed to walk next door to the warehouse. Gave the warehouse guy the piece of paper and he forklifted the 3 boxes outside for me. DONE. Give yourself a pat on the back later and get the fish the heck home! They've now been in the boxes for about 24 hours.

That's it. Not that hard right? I guess the thing is that if you haven't done it before, you just don't know and make a lot of assumptions. I just wanted to share that with everyone. If anyone has their own experiences with importing fish, feel free to chime in. I hope this helps others looking to do the same thing.

PS. Got the fish home, floated the bags for 10 minutes, then netted the fish out and put them into their new home. They are awesome fish (will post pics later after the fish when the lights come on).
 

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Discussion Starter #4
No problem. We get posts all the time asking about this. I hope this helps others who have had these same questions and have not been able to get a straight answer.

For those who want to try, just be aware, importation rules change all the time, so do your homework.
 

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Awesome Tony, next time Mickey D's coffee is on me! Bwhahahaha...guess who's the lucky guy who shared the shipment?
Hehe, actually as much as I hate to say it (since I'm a coffee snob), I don't mind the coffee there at all. It's pretty good everyday coffee. I could go for another right now.

I'm still blown away at how big the fish were. (will update with pics in different thread later).
 

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Hehe, actually as much as I hate to say it (since I'm a coffee snob), I don't mind the coffee there at all. It's pretty good everyday coffee. I could go for another right now.

I'm still blown away at how big the fish were. (will update with pics in different thread later).
Me too. It's better than Timmy's.

Yep, biggest 4.5" fish I've ever seen. :D
 

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.... Gave the warehouse guy the piece of paper and he forklifted the 3 boxes outside for me. DONE. Give yourself a pat on the back later and get the fish the heck home! They've now been in the boxes for about 24 hours.....
This is a very great write up.
Quite the sight seeing boxes of fish being fork lifted for pick up.

From a previous group order with tony1928:
 

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Discussion Starter #8
this is a very great write up.
Thanks Ming. I tried to be thorough in case someone really wanted to try it themselves. But if anyone has questions, feel free to post. Want to try to make this a useful thread.
 

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Great post. Only thing I would add would be that if you didn't want to go all the way to the main terminal for customs, there is a customs office within a few blocks of Menzies but they only open at 8.30 am.
 

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Wow Tony you're brave!

Excellent idea to document it here. Thanks.
 

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Great post. Only thing I would add would be that if you didn't want to go all the way to the main terminal for customs, there is a customs office within a few blocks of Menzies but they only open at 8.30 am.
Ah thanks Joseph. Yeah all depends on day of week and time of day. It was fun.
 

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Thanks Dave and Franck. I did it out of necessity. And yeah I was either really brave or really foolish. Lol. Bureaucracy doesn't scare me, at most it just makes me angry.
 

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Very well written, and great information. I saw this earlier but didn't read due to workload, finally got a chance to glimpse over everything and see that John had already beat me to stickying it!

Thanks Tony.

Cheers,
Chris
 

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Very well written, and great information. I saw this earlier but didn't read due to workload, finally got a chance to glimpse over everything and see that John had already beat me to stickying it!

Thanks Tony.

Cheers,
Chris
Glad you guys think its worthy of a sticky. Happy I could share my experience.
 

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Greet post but as of Monday you do need permits for discus and possibly a vet check that has to be booked . Their vet and pay the vet check.
It's in transition and this week was the last week for no permits.
As tony said check the list.
Lots of unsuspecting fish are on it . Tiger barbs, Gouramis, zebra danio, guppies, goldfish, discus, etc etc.
 

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Great write up.

I have not importe fish is other than driving across the boreder with some and telling the agent.
got the go ahead<G>

the secret to remember with customs YOU are GUILTY until you prove your innocence.

I hate saying "Yes Sir" so some guy waring a 9 mm.
 

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Greet post but as of Monday you do need permits for discus and possibly a vet check that has to be booked . Their vet and pay the vet check.
It's in transition and this week was the last week for no permits.
As tony said check the list.
Lots of unsuspecting fish are on it . Tiger barbs, Gouramis, zebra danio, guppies, goldfish, discus, etc etc.
Thanks April, good to know
 
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