Certification of Fish and Seafood Products

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Canada's international trading partners often require certification from CFIA attesting that exports of fish and seafood products comply with Canadian and/or their food safety requirements. Therefore, prior to issuing a certificate, CFIA must have reasonable assurance that the product meets the importing country's requirements. Compliance is determined by reviewing the exporter's food safety and export certification systems—as well as these systems' performance—and/or by inspecting the product.

Certification is almost exclusively done for products exported for commercial purposes. However, certain countries require an export certificate for product destined for personal consumption (e.g. fish caught while sport fishing in Canada). For more information on this please see the References section at the end of this webpage.

Types of Certificates

The type of certificate to be issued will depend on the importing country requirements (or lack thereof), and can be one of the following:

  • Export Certificates: These documents are negotiated between CFIA and the competent authority of the importing country. If the importing country requires an Export Certificate, no other type of Certificate can be issued unless it is also required by the competent authority.
  • Inspection Certificates: These Certificates are developed by Canada to attest that the product complies with Canadian Standards (e.g. Certificate of Origin and Hygiene).
  • CODEX certificate: developed by Canada using the model certificate provided by Codex Alimentarius, an international standard-setting agency.

If the importing country does not require a specific Export Certificate, an eligible exporter could still receive an Inspection or a CODEX certificate upon request. The exporter is responsible to confirm acceptance of these documents with the importing parties.

Certification Requirements

Exporters are responsible to determine their market's certification requirements, and CFIA supports industry by collecting as much information as possible on various countries' certification requirements. The information available to the CFIA can be found in the Export Information By Jurisdiction webpage.


Certificates will be issued to:

  • Holders of a Certificate of Registration implementing a Quality Management Program (QMP) with an acceptable element on export certification controls, or who are implementing an Export Certification Control Program (ECCP);
  • Holders of a Fish Export License who are implementing an acceptable ECCP; and
  • Persons who do not hold a Certificate of Registration or a Fish Export License but are willing to wait for their consignment to be inspected by the CFIA prior to issuing the certificate.

All exporters must meet the regulatory requirements set out in the Fish Export Directive.

How to Obtain a Certificate

Exporters must contact their local CFIA office to request a certificate template. This template must be completed by the exporter and submitted to an inspector along with the following additional information (if not already provided in the template):

  • destination country;
  • recognized certificate type(s);
  • location of the consignment;
  • date the consignment is available for inspection;
  • date the certificate is required (date of departure);
  • total units and unit size of each lot in the consignment;
  • product description (size, grade, type);
  • scientific name of the fish or seafood;
  • consignee name and address;
  • consignor name and address;
  • product identification marks (production code);
  • mode of transportation.
  • Information on certificate delivery to the exporter (pick up, address to be mailed, etc.)

The inspector will determine if the product requires inspection. Priority for inspection will be given to federally registered plants and to holders of an export license implementing an ECCP. Please note that product from exporters who did not operate federally registered establishments or hold an export licence operating with an ECCP will require inspection.

Only one original will be issued for each type of certificate but more than one type of certificate can be issued per consignment.

Certificates will not be issued for consignments that have cleared customs and have already been imported into another country.

Replacement Certificates

Replacement certificates will be issued if there are legitimate reasons to do so (i.e., administrative errors, lost or damaged certificates, changes to the consignee due to unforeseen circumstances outside the exporter's control, and last minute changes to the quantity shipped) and the integrity of the shipment has not been compromised. A letter from the exporter must accompany the request for a replacement certificate, and it must provide an explanation of what happened, where it happened, who was involved, as well as include the original certificate, if available. If the original is not available, the exporter must provide the reasons in the letter.

Partially Completed Certificates

In order to maintain product freshness and trade access, partially completed certificates may be issued to eligible exporters. There are strict controls for these certificates. Further information on this can be found in the references provided below.


There is a fee assigned to each certificate request and to inspection activities (if applicable). This means that even if the request for a certificate is denied, or if a certificate issued is voided or partially completed, there will be a charge. The appropriate fees for export certification activities are available in the CFIA Fees Notice.

Reference Material

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