Licensing under the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations

Under the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations (SFCR) businesses that import food or prepare food for export or to be sent across provincial or territorial boundaries need to have licences to carry on with their operations.

Licensing helps to align Canada's regulations with international food safety standards, and improve access to global markets. It also helps to identify food businesses, to communicate important food safety information directly to them and to take responsive action when their activities do not comply with the regulations.

Which businesses need a licence?

Under the SFCR, businesses need a licence based on the activities they conduct. Food businesses that conduct any of the following activities are required to obtain a licence:

  • Import food or food products
  • Manufacture, process, treat, preserve, grade, package, or label food for export or to be sent across provincial or territorial borders
  • Export food (where an export certificate is requested)
  • Slaughter food animals from which meat products are derived for export or to be sent across provincial or territorial borders
  • Store and handle a meat product in its imported condition for inspection by CFIA

Businesses should familiarize themselves with the regulations and prepare to meet the new requirements. Some requirements – including licensing – have to be met immediately, while others will be introduced in 2020 and 2012 based on food commodity, type of activity and business size.

Two hands are typing on a laptop that is displaying the My CFIA sign up page.

Find out if your business requires a licence by using our licensing interactive tool.

How can I apply for a licence?

CFIA is making it more convenient to apply for a licence or other online services provided by the Agency through My CFIA, a web portal that businesses can access anytime, anywhere.

All food businesses can sign up for My CFIA now and create one or more business profiles based on an enrollment model that suits them.

Once a profile for your business is created in My CFIA, requesting a licence, export certificate, or other CFIA-issued permissions can be done online.

If a business currently has a registration or licence with CFIA, that registration or licence will remain valid under the SFCR until it expires, even if the date of expiry of the renewed registration or licence occurs after January 15, 2019 (provided there is a statement on it indicating that it is also a licence under the Safe Food for Canadians Act). Once expired, the business will be required to apply for a Safe Food for Canadians licence.

Digital services

CFIA is working with Canadian businesses so they can compete in a technologically advanced and global market. Digital services such as My CFIA are making it easier for businesses to manage and track service requests anytime and anywhere.

To find more information, refer to the licensing section of our toolkit for businesses, including guidance on food business activities that would require a licence under the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations.

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