CFIA license import export

Safe food for Canadians (SFC) licences up for renewal

With few exceptions, most importers of food products are required to hold a Safe Food for Canadians (SFC) Licence from the CFIA to import food products into Canada. Moreover, certain Canadian food product exporters are also required to hold a valid SFC Licence.

At time of importation, Canadian customs brokers such as W2C must report the importer’s SFC Licence number to the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) on the release request transmitted via Single Window.

SFC Licences are valid for two years. Given that the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations (SFCR) came into effect on January 15, 2019, many SFC Licences will begin to expire on January 15, 2021. Other licences will expire progressively in the days, weeks and months to come depending on the anniversary date of the importer’s SFC Licence.

If you have an SFC Licence, you may renew your licence up to 120 days before its expiry date via your My CFIA online account. However, no matter how early you apply, your renewed SFC Licence will only be valid for two years from the original expiry date.

If your licence expires, your business will no longer be permitted to conduct licensed activities in accordance with the Safe Food for Canadians Act (SFCA) and may be subject to enforcement actions. You will then need to apply for a “new” licence and await the issuance of a “new” licence number, which may further disrupt your import activities.

It is recommended that you submit your renewal request as early as possible to allow the CFIA time for processing. If your SFC Licence lapses, your importations of food products will not be permitted entry into Canada. In other words, without a valid SFC Licence, the customs entry will be rejected by CBSA/CFIA.

Help the CFIA determine your risk level. If your company has not already done so, please complete the Establishment Risk Assessment (ERA) questionnaire during your renewal process to ensure your establishment risk is accurately documented. Parties without a completed ERA questionnaire are considered high-risk facilities by the CFIA and are targeted for more frequent inspections.

Useful links:

What to consider before applying for a Safe Food for Canadians Licence

My CFIA – User guidance

My CFIA – Frequently asked questions

How to renew or amend an SFC Licence

Sources: Canadian Food Inspection Agency, Canadian Society of Customs Brokers


Please note that all information on this blog is subject to change. All blog articles are for information purposes only. We are always available to answer in detail any questions our clients may have regarding the information in this blog.

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About the author
With over 25 years of experience in customs brokerage, transportation and logistics, Marc has acquired a solid expertise in improving logistics and customs performance for Canadian importers and exporters.