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Safe Food for Canadians Regulations (SFCR) and SFCR import licence

The information included in this notice is a helpful reminder that an importer who holds certain valid registrations or licences can temporarily use registration or licence number in place of an SFCR licence (until the non-SFCR registration or licence expires).

The Safe Food for Canadians Regulations (SFCR) generally apply to businesses that import food or prepare food for export or inter-provincial trade.  Certain traceability, labelling and advertising requirements also apply to food businesses that trade intraprovincially.

The Government of Canada’s new Safe Food for Canadians Regulations (SFCR) came into force on January 15, 2019 and requires that food imported into Canada meet the same food safety outcomes and has been prepared with the same level of food safety controls as food prepared in Canada.

In most cases, importers will require a licence from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) to import food into Canada. Depending on the food commodity you are importing, the import licence requirement will apply as of January 15, 2019 or July 15, 2020.  To find out if and when you need a licence, refer to the licensing interactive tool and the timelines resources on the CFIA website.

For those foods that require an importer to have a licence on January 15, 2019, consider the following important points.

  1. CFIA’s Automated Import Reference System (AIRS) will be updated to include admissibility requirements that reflect the SFCR licence number as a condition to import these foods into Canada.
  2. There are many importers that may already hold an existing valid licence or registration issued by the CFIA. These include those listed below, as issued before January 15th, 2019 under the authorities of the Canada Agricultural Products Act (CAPA), Meat Inspection Act (MIA) or Fish Inspection Act (FIA). For the first year, as part of the transition, any importer that holds one of the following valid registrations or licences can temporarily use this number in place of a SFCR licence (until it expires).
  • Licence to operate a registered meat establishment
  • Fish import licence (basic)
  • Dairy establishment registration
  • Honey establishment registration
  • Processed products establishment registration
  • Quality Management Program for Importers (QMPI) fish licence
  • Cheese import licence
  • Registered Produce Warehouses (RPW) establishment registration
  • Maple establishment registration

Note: This valid registration or licence must include the statement below. If you have renewed or applied for a licence or registration with the CFIA in the last couple of years this statement would have been automatically added to your licence or registration.

“This certificate is issued in accordance with the [name the Regulations]. This registration, licence, permit or authorization is also a licence that is issued under the Safe Food for Canadians Act upon its commencement day.”

  1. Once the existing registration or licence expires, importers will need to have a licence issued under the SFCR in order to continue their import activity. Consider beginning the process now by visiting My CFIA and creating an account and business profile. Once enrolled, you will have taken the first step to apply for a licence when needed. More details are available on the Licensing web page.

Keep in mind that during this transition period you will also have to meet the other requirements of the SFCR, including the requirement for a preventive control plan. Additional information on the SFCR for importers is available on the CFIA web page Food imports. If you have questions, fill out our feedback form or call 1.800.442.2342.