Customs Notice 24-03: Safe Food for Canadians (SFC) licence to import food to Canada
- This Customs Notice replaces CN 20-01 Safe Food for Canadians (SFC) licence to import food to Canada.
- The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA)’s Safe Food for Canadians Regulations(SFCR) came into force on January 15, 2019. Since then, commercial importers of meat and poultry products, dairy, egg, fish and seafood, fresh and processed fruits and vegetables, and honey and maple products have been required to hold a Safe Food for Canadians (SFC) licence. Verification of the SFC licence prior to import has been in place for these commodities since March 2021.
- On July 15, 2020, the licensing requirement came into force for the manufactured foods sector. Manufactured foods include confectionary and snack foods (chips, candy, cookies, chocolates), non-alcoholic beverages (tea, coffee, carbonated drinks), grain-based foods (e.g. bread, cereals, pasta, baked goods) but was not subject to system verification.
- The purpose of this customs notice is to advise commercial importers that as of February 12, 2024, verification of the SFC licence requirement prior to import will begin for imports of manufactured foods. All food importers that require a SFC licence must include a valid SFC licence number on their import declaration. Importers that do not declare a valid licence may have their shipments delayed or refused entry at the border, and importers may be subject to enforcement actions.
- To find out if you need a licence, please refer to the CFIA’s Licensing interactive tool. More information, including how to apply for a licence, is available on the CFIA’s Food licencespage. Importers requiring an SFC licence are encouraged to submit their application as soon as possible to avoid delays or rejection of shipments at the border.
- Businesses must obtain their SFC licence before presenting their shipment at the border. They will not be able to obtain a SFC licence at the border.
- Note: The SFC licence number must be declared exactly as it was issued by the CFIA. All of the numbers and letters must be entered correctly on the import declaration.
- SFC licence applications can take up to 15 business days, complex applications can take longer.
- General exemptions from the SFCA/SFCR include:
- food for personal use, when the food is not intended for commercial use, and
- the quantity of food is equal to or under the maximum quantity limits, found in the document “Maximum Quantity Limits for Personal Use Exemption,” and
- the food is imported, exported, sent or conveyed from one province to another by an individual other than in the course of business; or
- the food is imported or exported as part of the personal effects of an immigrant or emigrant
- food that is carried on any conveyance and is intended for the crew or passengers
- food that is intended and used for analysis, evaluation, research, or a trade show, provided that the food is part of a shipment that weighs 100 kg or less or, in the case of eggs, is part of a shipment of five or fewer cases
- food that is not intended or sold for human consumption
- food that is imported from the United States onto the Akwesasne Reserve by a permanent resident of the Reserve for their use
- food that is imported in bond (in transit) for use by crew or passengers of a cruise ship or military ship in Canada
- transporting a food commodity, if that is the sole activity of a person or business (i.e. commercial carriers)
- Importers of food additives and alcoholic beverages as well as foods listed in Schedule 1of the SFCR may not be required to hold a SFC licence. See Automated Import Reference System(AIRS) for details.
- Please note that, even if an importer is not required to hold a SFC licence, food imports remain subject to CFIA requirements under the Health of Animals Act, Plant Protection Actand their associated regulations, as well as all other government department legislation.
- Importers are advised to continue to consult the CFIA’s AIRS for food import requirements.
- Please consult the CFIA’s website for further details on commercially importing food to Canada.
- Travellers can consult the CFIA’s website for information on importing of food, plants, animals and related products to Canada for personal use.
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