New Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) Safe Food for Canadians Regulations (SFCR)
In order to import food regulated under the Safe Food for Canadian Regulations (SFCR), importers must be in possession of a Safe Food for Canadians (SFC) license. A valid SFC license is required prior to the importation of the goods and cannot be obtained at time of import.
Beginning March 15, 2021, the following food imports will be rejected by the Canada Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) if a valid SFC License and/or a SFC license number is not provided at time of import.
- Processed Eggs
- Processed Fruits and Vegetables
- Fresh Fruits and Vegetables
For more information on SFC licenses, please visit the CFIA website
See Next Steps
The Safe Food for Canadians Regulations (SFCR) under the Safe Food for Canadians Act (SFCA) came into effect January 15, 2019. Under the SFCR, businesses that import and/or export food for human consumption as the importer of record (resident or non-resident) or that trade food interprovincially, may require updates to their existing licenses or be required to apply for new SFC licenses. In addition, preventative controls and traceability measures may be needed for certain commodities to ensure a sufficient process is in place to prevent and address food safety concerns.
SFCR is following a staged implementation — some requirements will come into effect immediately, while others will be phased in over a period of 12-30 months. Shipments for personal (casual) use will be exempt from SFCR when shipped in acceptable quantities.
To avoid any potential clearance delays/issues, we strongly recommend that food businesses provide all current License, Permit, Certificate, and Other document (LCPO) and new SFC License numbers/information (once applicable) to FedEx as soon as possible. You can email this information directly to the FedEx Clearance Help Desk at email@example.com.
Interactive tools and timelines are available at the CFIA website to assist businesses in determining if, and when SFCR will apply to their commodities. Guidance Finder is also available as an advanced search tool to enable importers and exporters to search for applicable requirements by specifying activity type, food commodity, method of production and document type.
It is highly recommended that businesses who require or will require SFC licenses, create an account and sign up for My CFIA to begin their application process. The My CFIA service will provide access to all CFIA on-line services including the application for permissions (licenses, permits, registrations, authorizations, export certificates) required under the new SFCR. The CFIA will not accept any applications sent by fax or email.
Valid SFC licenses may assist food businesses to access U.S. markets because these licenses can be used by U.S. importers to validate that their food suppliers meet the required preventative safety standards under the Food Suppliers Verification Program (FSVP), as mandated by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Non-Resident Importer (NRI) Food Businesses
SFCR for food importations apply to both resident importer and non-resident importer (NRI) businesses, however, SFC licenses will only be issued to NRIs if they meet the following conditions:
- Operate a fixed place of business in, and ship food directly from, a foreign country the CFIA has recognized as having equivalent food safety standards as Canada
- Ship only specified foods that have been CFIA approved, for import by an NRI, for the country in which they are being exported
- Maintain records of all import transactions in English or French that are readily available for review by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) upon request
A list of all recognized foreign countries, and the approved food commodities for importation by an NRI for each country is available on the CFIA website. Food commodities that are not approved for import by an NRI may be imported by a resident importer (Canadian business) with the appropriate LCPOs. Specific import requirements for food importations are available in the CFIA Automated Import Reference System (AIRS).