Importing manufactured foods into Canada? Then you need a Safe Food for Canadians (SFC) license. Starting February 12, 2024, SFC licenses will be automatically checked for imports of manufactured foods. Without a valid SFC license, your shipment will be denied entry into Canada.
To get a Safe Food for Canadians license, it may take 15 business days or more to process your application, depending on how complex it is. Licenses will not be issued manually at the border.
Automatic license verification for imports of manufactured foods.
On February 12, 2024, the CFIA will activate automatic license verification for imports of manufactured foods. If you need a license to import, you must enter a valid license number on your import declaration or your shipment will be denied entry into Canada.
To import most foods into Canada, the Safe Food for Canadians Act (SFCA) and its regulations (SFCR) require that you hold a license issued by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA).
Since March 15, 2021, the CFIA has been using the Integrated Import Declaration (IID) to automatically verify that importers of the following commodities have a valid Safe Food for Canadians (SFC) license:
- fish and seafood.
- fresh fruits and vegetables
- honey and honey products.
- maple and maple products
- meat and poultry products
- processed fruits and vegetables.
If you import any of these commodities into Canada, you must hold a valid SFC license and declare it correctly on your import declaration. Your shipment will be denied entry into Canada unless import requirements are met. Further, non-compliance with the SFCA and/or the SFCR may result in enforcement actions, up to and including administrative monetary penalties and/or prosecution.
What's new for importers of manufactured foods?
Definition of manufactured foods : For licensing purposes, the manufactured food commodity includes a variety of foods that fall under the following sub-commodities:
- alcoholic beverages
- confectionary, sweeteners, snack foods (containing or not containing nuts), and non-bakery desserts.
- fats and oils
- food chemicals
- grain-derived foods.
- infant foods
- multiple foods (such as sports nutrition, meal replacements, vegetarian pizza)
- non-alcoholic beverages
- nuts, grains, and seeds.
- spices, herbs, flavours, condiments, and dressings
- Vegan dairy substitutes
- foods not otherwise listed (such as cricket flour, yeast, simulated meat products, etc.)
Automatic verification of Safe Food for Canadians licenses
On February 12, 2024, the CFIA will begin using IID to automatically verify the SFC license numbers of importers of manufactured foods. This means that if you import any food commodity that requires a license, including manufactured foods, you must hold a valid SFC license and declare it correctly in your import declaration, or your transaction will be rejected.
If your transaction is rejected, IID will send you or your broker one or more reject messages that describe the reason(s) for the rejection, and your food shipment will be denied entry into Canada until you correct the error(s) and re-submit your import declaration.
All import requirements must be met before your shipment's import declaration can be accepted.
If you don't have an SFC license, visit My CFIA to access guidance on how to create a My CFIA account and party profile. If you already have a party profile, do not create a new one. The SFC license application is available online through your My CFIA account.
Refer to the CFIA's Food Licenses page for more information on licensing requirements.
Keep this in mind.
Before applying for your SFC license, make sure you meet all applicable requirements under the Food and Drugs Act and its regulations, as well as the Safe Food for Canadians Act and its regulations, including preventive control requirements. If you are required to prepare and implement a preventive control plan, you must do so before you request an SFC license.