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Safe Food For Canadians Licence To Import Food Required January 15, 2020

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 businesses comply with the new regulations.

On December 13, 2019 CFIA published a notice to industry to advise importers that beginning January 15, 2020, they may experience delays or rejections at the border if a valid SFC Licence to import is not reported in the customs entry for the following commodities:

  • Meat products and food animals
  • Fish
  • Dairy products
  • Eggs and processed egg products
  • Fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Processed fruit or vegetable products
  • Honey products
  • Maple products

Other commodities will have until July 15, 2020 to obtain a licence. See the CFIA’s website for timelines for licensing.

The SFC Licence must cover the activity of “Importing” as well as the commodity(ies) being imported.

On January 6, 2020, CBSA published Customs Notice 20-01 Safe Food for Canadians (SFC) Licence to import food to Canada which further clarifies the border enforcement of the requirement to be the licenced by the CFIA to import the above listed food commodities. Some of the key points are:

  • Licences and Registrations issued under repealed CFIA food legislation such as the Dairy Products Regulations and the Meat Inspection Regulations are no longer valid for registered food and you are required to obtain an SFC Licence.
  • SFC Licences must be obtained prior to presenting the shipment at the border. 
  • SFC Licence numbers must be included in the customs import declaration

In order to avoid shipment delays or rejections, ensure your SFC Licence is reported to your customs broker to include in the customs entry. 

If you do not have a licence, you should apply as soon as possible through CFIA’s My CFIA portal. For questions or issues with your SFC Licence, please refer to CFIA’s Food licensing page or contact the CFIA directly at the Centre of Administration.

Related Article: Safe Food For Canadians Regulations To Require License For Businesses
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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.

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.