The Canadian Food Inspection Agency is advising industry and businesses on the mandatory requirement to hold a Safe Food for Canadians licence for importations into Canada to facilitate a customs release in the Single Window Initiative(SWI) as an integrated import declaration (IID) for all CFIA programs that are regulated commodities. Currently, importers of meat, fish, dairy, eggs, processed eggs, processed fruits or vegetables, honey, maple and fresh fruits or vegetables are required to hold a valid Safe Food for Canadians licence (SFC licence) to import food into Canada.
As of March 15, 2021, food import transactions will automatically be rejected unless a valid Safe Food for Canadians (SFC) licence is entered in the SWI Integrated Import Declaration (IID). If a transaction is rejected by CFIA, the SFC licence holder may experience delays and have their related food shipment(s) held at the border until the error is addressed and the import transaction is resubmitted.
You must obtain your SFC licence to import before presenting your shipment at the border. You will not be able to obtain an SFC licence at the border. If you currently hold a licence, review your licence profile in My CFIA to ensure that your licence has been issued for the activity of “Importing” and for the food commodity or commodities you intend to import. An SFC licence application, as well as certain licence amendments, may take up to 15 business days to process, but can take longer if a pre-licence inspection is required. There is no fee to amend or update your SFC licence profile. Please review and make any necessary amendments to your SFC licence information using the My CFIA portal.
If you are a non-resident importer, you must select “Importing Food” on your licence as well as the food commodity or commodities you intend to import. Do not select “Exporting Food”.
The term “export” is not specifically defined in the Safe Food for Canadians Act nor in the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations. In general term, export refers to sending food from Canada to a foreign state.
For more information on food commodities, including examples of foods included in each sub-commodity, refer to Annex A of What to consider before applying for a Safe Food for Canadians licence.
For more information on transaction rejections, please refer to: Importing food into Canada with a Safe Food for Canadians licence.
If you have any questions or issues with your food 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.