Safe Food for Canadians (SFC) Licence Requirements Effective January 15, 2020

January 8, 2020 – The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has issued a notice to industry on the Safe Food licence requirements effective January 15, 2020 for certain food commodities. You may experience shipment delays or denied entry if a valid SFC licence for imports is not available at time of importation. 

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 business comply with the new regulations. 

CFIA would like to inform you that, beginning January 15, 2020, if you import any of the following food commodities listed below, without a valid Safe Food for Canadians (SFC) licence to import, you may experience delays or rejection of your shipment at the border, and you may be subject to other enforcement actions:

  • 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

For all other foods, not falling in the list above or falls under the exception or exemption, you will require an SFC licence to import on July 15, 2020. 

If you have not already done so, apply for your SFC licence online through the My CFIA portal.

    • Beginning January 15, 2020, previous licences or registrations issued under the authorities of the Canada Agricultural Products Act (CAPA), Meat Inspection Act (MIA) or Fish Inspection Act (FIA) should not be used in place of an SFC licence.
    • When you apply for your SFC licence, make sure that your licence covers the activity of importing as well as the food commodity or commodities you are importing.
    • You must obtain your SFC licence before presenting your shipment at the border. You will not be able to obtain an SFC licence at the border.
      • An SFC licence application normally takes up to 15 business days to process but can take longer if a pre-licence inspection is required.
    • Refer to our Food licensing page to access licensing tools and resources.


The timelines for complying with licensing, preventive controls, preventive control plan and traceability requirements vary by food, activity and size of the food business. For information relevant to your food business, select the SFCR timelines that apply to you. 

CFIA would also like to remind commercial importers to use the Single Window Integrated Import Declaration System (SWI) to declare their imported goods to the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA). 

Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) has also issued Customs Notice 20-01 issued on January 6, 2020 to advise industry and businesses on the requirements as of January 15, 2020. Shipments without an SFC licence may experience delays or refusal of entry at the border, and importers may be subject to enforcement actions.