Canada Border Services Agency and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency

Importers who commercially import products into Canada must comply with the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) mandates and regulations. In addition, CBSA has oversight over 16 Participating Government Agencies (PGAs) or Other Government Departments (OGD). PGAs set standards to “control” importations for goods of which they regulate. In some instances, importations are strictly controlled or prohibited. CBSA assists PGAs by administering and enforcing legislation and regulations on their behalf.

The processes and compliance requirements for each PGA are detailed in a series of documents known as “D-Memoranda” which can be found on the CBSA website. Specifically “D-19 – Acts and Regulations of Other Government Departments” identifies the legislation, policies, regulations, and procedures that CBSA uses to administer customs requirements for each PGA.

CBSA recommends that importers consult its Agencies: Other Government Departments and list for Importers.

In addition, CBSA suggests the importer refer to the Customs Tariff as three PGAS, Transport Canada, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency or Natural Resources Canada make available a listing of tariff codes that are subject to PGA requirements. An Importer can determine if a product is subject to a PGA import requirement by determining if the imported product tariff code is listed on the Agency list. Each Agency can be accessed through an electronic OGD portal.

One of the PGAs that controls, prohibits and regulates the importation of goods is the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA).

The CFIA is responsible for overseeing imports of food products, plants, animals and related products, and is charged with enforcement of numerous parliamentary acts and regulations to ensure the safety and quality of food sold in Canada. CBSA enforces import policies and regulations on behalf of CFIA at the ports of entry however the ultimate responsibility rests with CFIA.

Related article: Considerations When Importing Produce Into Canada

CFIA has an “Automated Import Reference System (AIRS) that allows importers to use as a reference for import requirements. AIRS is a user-friendly searchable database that has up-to-date CFIA import directives, regulatory requirements and release instructions for transmitting information to the CBSA. AIRS will identify the applicable import requirements CFIA has on an import through a series of questions and answers about the tariff code, origin, destination, end-use, and miscellaneous qualifiers.

In 2015 the Safe Food for Canadian Act took effect. This Act set to modernize the CFIA procedures and set consistent practices for all food commodities.

Imports must also meet CFIA labeling requirements. CFIA enforces packaging and labeling mandates Information about packaging and labeling requirements can be found on AIRS. 

Importers can consult with the National Import Service Center (NISC) about food import admissibility. The NISC can offer advice on import documentation, process requests and compliance determinations. 

CFIA is part of the Single Window Initiative. Importers provide all required information on imported goods in a single submission known as an IID. CBSA will share this information with the CFIA which will assess the information and provide any border-related decisions. 

Related article: What Is The Single Window Initiative?

Importers must ensure full compliance with CBSA and CFIA requirements when importing products under this PGA control. It can be difficult to know exactly if the product has been classified properly, met all the CBSA and PGA requirements. It is good advice to seek the guidance of PCB who can ensure full compliance. Contact one of our Trade Specialists. 

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About Author
Jan Brock

Jan Brock joined Pacific Customs Brokers in 2015 as a Senior Trade Advisor. She retired from Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) in 2015 after serving more than 37 years. Jan started her career with CBSA as a summer student in 1976 and worked part-time until she graduated from U.B.C. with a Bachelor of Education Degree in 1980 . Shortly after graduating from U.B.C. Jan worked full time as an inspector with CBSA and within three years was promoted to Superintendent. She served some time in the Regional Operations office as an Operations Review Officer before she was promoted to Chief of Operations first at the Customs Mail Centre, then in the Metro District as the Commercial Chief and ending her career as a Chief at Pacific Highway Commercial Operations where she served as Chief from 1992 to 2015. During her career she was a member of the Customs Drug Team and a trainer in the National Enforcement Program. Jan also served as the Regional Coordinator Officer Powers and Use of Force for the Pacific Region. Jan served on many Commercial Program Reviews and committees both national and regional during her career and possesses an expansive knowledge of importing and exporting into and from Canada.

While we strive for accuracy in all our communications, as the Importer of Record it is incumbent upon your company to ensure that you are aware of the requirements under the new regulations so that you maintain compliance as always.