If you are a food business, a Safe Food for Canadians Regulations (SFCR) Licence may now be required (with certain exceptions) to import food into Canada.
The SFCR came into force January 15, 2019, with a phased in approach based upon food commodity, type of activity and business size. After the initial January 2019 implementation, the next phases are July 15, 2020 (most importers) and July 16, 2021 (for companies with annual food sales of $100,000 or less or that have 4 or less employees).
Most businesses will require a licence effective July 15, 2020. In order to apply for a SFCR licence, businesses will need to attest that they have preventive controls in place.
The timelines for complying with licensing, preventive controls, preventive control plan and traceability requirements vary by food, activity and size of the food business. For information relevant to your food business, select the SFCR timelines that apply to you from the list below:
- Timetable: Dairy products, eggs, processed egg products, processed fruit or vegetable products
- Timetable: Fish
- Timetable: Meat products and food animals
- Timetable: Fresh fruit or vegetables
- Timetable: Honey and maple products
- Timetable: Unprocessed food used as grain, oil, pulse, sugar or beverages
- Timetable: Food additives and alcoholic beverages
- Timetable: All other foods (manufactured foods)
Food businesses must enrol at My CFIA to apply for a licence. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) will not accept SFCR licence applications sent by email or fax. Once your application is submitted, CFIA will generally issue a licence in approximately 15 days.
The CFIA has also created an advanced search tool called the Guidance Finder, which lets users find information about SFCR requirements by specifying activity type, food commodity, method of production and document type, along with interactive tools and timelines.
Although the CFIA announced on April 7, 2020 that due to COVID-19 they would not be prioritizing compliance activities for SFCR, they have not yet determined a firm date by which imported shipments will be rejected without a valid SFCR Licence. CFIA are recommending all importers (where required) obtain their SFCR Licence in order to avoid delays once the regulations are enforced.
For more information about the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations, visit inspection.gc.ca/safefood or call Brian Rowe, Director – Customs Compliance & Regulatory Affairs at (905) 882-4880, ext. 1213.