Apply for your Safe Food for Canadians licence to prevent delays or rejection at the border
When the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations came into force on January 15, 2019, importers were required to have a Safe Food for Canadians (SFC) licence to import food into Canada. Since then, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has been using a graduated enforcement approach to help food business comply with the new regulations.
We would like to inform you that, beginning January 15, 2020, if you import any of the following food commodities without a valid Safe Food for Canadians (SFC) licence to import, you may experience delays or rejection of your shipment at the border, and you may be subject to other enforcement actions:
- Meat products and food animals
- Dairy products
- Eggs and processed egg products
- Fresh fruits and vegetables
- Processed fruit or vegetable products
- Honey products
- Maple products
For all other foods, you will require an SFC licence to import on July 15, 2020.
We would also like to remind commercial importers and customs brokers to use the Single Window Integrated Import Declaration System to declare their imported goods to the Canada Border Services Agency.
How to prevent delays or rejection at the border
To prevent delays or rejection when importing your food into Canada, consider the following:
- If you have not already done so, apply for your SFC licence online through the My CFIA portal.
- Beginning January 15, 2020, previous licences or registrations issued under the authorities of the Canada Agricultural Products Act (CAPA), Meat Inspection Act (MIA) or Fish Inspection Act (FIA) should not be used in place of an SFC licence.
- When you apply for your SFC licence, make sure that your licence covers the activity of importing as well as the food commodity or commodities you are importing.
- Refer to our guidance on What to consider before applying for an SFC licence to help you select the appropriate food commodity or commodities in your licence application.
- You must obtain your SFC licence before presenting your shipment at the border. You will not be able to obtain an SFC licence at the border.
- An SFC licence application normally takes up to 15 business days to process but can take longer if a pre-licence inspection is required.
- Refer to our Food licensing page to access licensing tools and resources.
- Submit your import declaration in advance of your shipment arriving at the border.
- You can submit your electronic declaration up to 90 days before your shipment arrives at the border. If the food's HS code indicates "Refer to CFIA-NISC", you must send all of the required documentation to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency's (CFIA) National Import Service Centre (NISC) for approval before your shipment arrives at the border.
- Ensure that your SFC licence number is entered correctly on your import declaration.
- You must declare your SFC licence exactly as it was issued by the CFIA. You or your customs broker must enter all of the numbers and letters correctly on the import declaration.
Single Window Integrated Import Declaration System
While many CFIA clients are already using the Single Window Integrated Import Declaration (SW IID) when declaring imported food to the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), we strongly encourage all remaining CFIA-regulated commercial importers and customs brokers to make the switch to the updated import declaration system as soon as possible.
Refer to CBSA's website for more information on SW IID.
If you have any questions or issues with your import declaration, please contact the NISC. For questions or issues with your SFC licence, please refer to our Food licensing page or contact the Centre of Administration.
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