The Safe Food for Canadians Regulations(SFCR) will come into force on January 15, 2019. Most food importers will require a licence or be required to meet other SFRC requirements. The cost of a SFCR licence is $250.00 CAD.
The specific import requirements for importing food can be found in the Automated Import Reference System (AIRS). The AIRS information is updated frequently so prior to importing you should verify AIRS to ensure that the import requirements have not changed.
Here below provides detailed information for a non-resident importer (NRI) for Canadian imports and the requirements under the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations.
A NRI is an importer who does not have a fixed place of business in Canada but has a fixed place of business in a foreign country and imports food into Canada directly from the foreign country in which they carry on business.
NRIs food importers may obtain a SFCR licence under certain conditions. To obtain a licence as a NRI, your fixed place of business must be in a country that the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has recognized as having a food safety system that provides at least the same level of protection as that of Canada’s (for the commodity you wish to import). See Annex A and Annex B for the specific types of foods that are currently approved for import by a NRI from specific countries. Here are some recognized foods: shell eggs, processed eggs, meat and poultry products, live or raw shellfish, processed eggs, meat products.
Importing food into Canada as a NRI
The SFCR requires that a non-resident importer must send the food directly to Canada from the CFIA recognized foreign state. For example, a NRI located in the United States (US) would not be able to import cheese from France directly to Canada; the shipment would have to be imported into the US where it would be subject to US government oversight before it is sent to Canada.
Some commodities may have specific requirements that need to be met prior to import into Canada. To determine if your commodity has specific requirements please refer to Food-specific import requirements.
Applying for a licence
Your application for a licence is the same as an importer located in Canada. To apply for a licence, sign up with My CFIA and create an account and your business profile. The My CFIA service will deliver and coordinate the full range of operational administrative services required for domestic and imported food related to SFCR licensing. This account will give you access to secure online services such as requesting a licence or access information about the licence and regulations through your My CFIA account. For more information about the Safe Food for Canadians licence requirements or My CFIA refer to Licensing or My CFIA.
The SFCR does not require that records be kept at an address in Canada; however, records must be readily available at the request of an inspector at a time and place specified by the inspector. The records must be made available in English or French and legible. When providing electronic records, the records must be easily read by standard commercial software.
Recall and complaints
All requirements of the SFCR in relation to importing food apply to both non-resident and resident importers; this includes the recall and complaints requirements. Investigation and notification, complaints and recall in Part 4 of the SFCR, describes the specific requirements for creating and maintaining recall and complaints records and procedures. For more information on recalls, refer to Food safety and emergency response.
Learn more on the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations.