Did you know dairy products such as cheese, milk, yogurt and butter are a regulated commodity? Canadian residents will often import cheese for their personal use or for their business. You may import dairy products into Canada, however it can come with restrictions and even substantial tariffs. Just because you can buy it, does not mean you can import it.

What Are The Dairy Restrictions For Personal Use?

  1. 20 kilograms per person
  2. $20 CAD maximum
How To Import Dairy Products Into Canada

What Do You Need To Do To Import Cheese For Commercial Use?

If you are planning on purchasing cheese outside of Canada for your business, stop! You have certain requirements you must meet to be able to import cheese for your business.

1. CFIA Cheese Import Licence

To start, a commercial importer must hold a valid CFIA cheese import licence issued by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA). The application form (CFIA/ACIA 5562) must be filled out before importing.

Apply Here For A Cheese Import Licence

If you would like more information about applying for a cheese import license, you can contact the CFIA's Centre of Administration.

2. Tariff Rate Quota Import Permit

Cheese is on the import control list, and the Export and Import Permits Act (EIPA). Global Affairs Canada requires an import permit for all types of cheese imports including fresh, grated, powdered and processed. Keep in mind, this is in addition to obtaining a cheese import license. With a Tariff Rate Quotas (TRQ) Permit you can receive reduced duty rates for importing cheese.

Canada Customs Focus: Improve Tariff Rate Quota Enforcement

What If I Don't Obtain An Import Permit Under Tariff Rate Quotas?

If you do not obtain an Import Permit you may still import cheese into Canada, however you must include a General Import Permit and your tariff rate on the import will be over 200%. If you would like more information on Import Controls and Import Permits follow the link.

What Is CETA?

What Else Do You Need To Know?

  • Cheese products can only be accepted if they are produced in a country that does not pose animal health concerns to Canada.
  • Cheese is subject to minimum grade and standards as described in the Dairy Products Regulations.
  • Consumer-sized products (pre-packaged) must be labelled with the information required to be shown under the Consumer Packaging and Labeling Regulations and Dairy Products Regulations.
Personal Exemptions For Travelers Entering Canada

The Import Declaration

  1. An Import Declaration form, completed by you or a representative, must accompany the load. Your form must include:
    a. The name of the exporter
    b. The name of the consignee
    c. The importer's cheese import licence number
    d. A description of the dairy product and any identification marks
    e. The number, kind, and net weight of the containers
    f. A statement the dairy product is manufactured from sound raw materials, under sanitary conditions, and is fit for human consumption. It is also important to know, the statement must accurately identify the manufacturer or authorized agent.
  2. Health and safety requirements prescribed in the Food and Drugs Act and Regulations and the Dairy Products Regulations.
  3. Cheese from the EU requires an Agrex certificate.
Note: Cheese packed in whey must meet further requirements before importation.

What If My Goods Do Not Meet The Requirements?

If you arrive at the border and fail to meet the above requirements, your goods may seized, destroyed, or sent back to the originating country. However, once you fulfill all of the requirements you will be able to import the goods into Canada.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency can inspect your food imports to make sure you meet the minimum requirements. If your food meets the requirements you will be good to enter. When your product is not up to standard it will be detained until it meets regulations. If the product enters into the country and is found to not meet the necessary requirements, the product is returned to customs or destroyed in the country.

Failing to declare restricted items may result in penalties, permanent seizure of the goods, and in some cases, criminal prosecution. The importer is responsible for all fees and penalties associated with non-compliance.

Learn More Here: How To Import Dairy Products Into Canada

It's all gouda, but it could brie better with Pacific Customs Brokers. Contact us for any of your dairy import needs. I know it's cheesy, but you'll be in grate hands. 

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About Author
Gloria Terhaar
CCS, CTCS, CBSA Professional Designate

Gloria Terhaar has over 17 years of Canadian customs brokerage experience. She currently works in our Canadian division as a Trade Compliance Supervisor and Regulatory Compliance Specialist. Gloria has extensive experience in all aspects of documentation and regulatory requirements as they relate to importing products into Canada. Gloria is often called upon to train industry with some recent talks for MNP, the Surrey Board of Trade, TFO Canada and the BC Produce Marketing Association. In 2018, Gloria also participated in the Canadian Produce Marketing Association and the Canadian Horticultural Council advocacy event "Fall Harvest" in Ottawa where she participated in advocacy efforts for the Canadain produce industry.

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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.