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Importing Fish into Canada

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Frozen fish in various containers.

Importing Fish into Canada

Fish and fish products imported into Canada are inspected to prevent unsafe, unwholesome or mislabelled products from getting to market. These goods require a Fish License or a Quality Management Program Import License.

Importers must apply for a license to inform the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) of the intention to import fish products.

It is important that importers familiarize themselves with the fish inspection requirements upon entry to Canada. Many import requirements may vary by commodity, therefore we suggest that an importer use the Automated Importer Reference System (AIRS) for reference.

Download and submit the application for a fish license from the CFIA website. Fees range from $500 to $5,000 and are payable to the Receiver General of Canada for a one-year license.

After form submission and fee remittance, it takes approximately 10 working days for CFIA to process the application and grant license.

Submit the following documents to your Customs Broker prior to the goods arriving at a port of entry for customs clearance with Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA):

  1. Canada Customs Commercial Invoice
  2. Copy of the Fish License
  3. Completed Fish Import Notification Form for each shipment

Your Customs Broker will then be able to fill out and remit all necessary paperwork for customs clearance to the CBSA. It is the importer’s responsibility to ensure that the CFIA receives the Fish Import Notification Form with the Customs Transaction Number in preparation for inspection.

Prior to shipping to Canada, the importer must fulfill all CFIA requirements and must have arranged for the goods to arrive at a designated CFIA approved cold storage warehouse for inspection. After the goods clear customs, they travel in bond to cold storage warehousing facility where CFIA will inspect them, provided they receive the necessary forms. Failure to present goods for inspection or to submit all necessary forms will result in mandatory and immediate exportation.

After the CFIA inspection, the commodity may be transported or distributed within Canada.

Please consult CFIA for more information regarding your fish shipments.  All updates for the fish program are delivered electronically through CFIA’s Email Notification Services. We recommended that you sign up for this service. To sign up, click here, and go under Email Notification Services – Food – Fish Inspection Manuals.

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