What are the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations (SFCR)?

Canada’s Safe Food for Canadians Regulations (SFCR) ensures imported and exported food products are safe for Canadians and international consumers. SFCR ensures imported and exported foods products are safe through licensing, prevention, and removal of unsafe food from the marketplace.

Built on three key elements, Licensing, Preventative Controls, and Traceability, SFCR vary by food, activity, and size of food business. Timelines for compliance with the regulations are also dependent upon the type of food, activity, and business. Therefore, if you import or export food products, it is important that you review the specific food groups and timelines to ensure you are compliant with the SFCR.


CFIA: SFCR – Importing Food into Canada

SFC Licence

Businesses importing food or preparing food for export internationally (or across provincial or territorial borders) may require a SFC Licence from CFIA in order to import/export food products into/out of Canada.

CFIA provides an interactive tool that can help determine if your products need a licence. As your Customs Broker, we report this license number on customs clearance entries made on your behalf to Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and CFIA.

Consistent with international food and safety standards, Canadian businesses exporting foods regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration can use their licence under the SFCR to meet requirements under the U.S. Foreign Supplier Verification Program.

Note: Importers must possess a valid Safe Food for Canadians (SFC) licence issued by the CFIA before presenting their shipment at the border. Importers will not be able to
obtain an SFC licence at the border.

Effective March 15, 2021, imports of the following food products will be rejected by CFIA unless a valid SFC licence is entered in the SWI Integrated Import Declaration (IID). This may cause delays and shipment(s) may be held at the border until the import transaction is resubmitted.

  • meat
  • processed fruits or vegetables
  • fish
  • honey
  • dairy
  • maple
  • eggs
  • fresh fruits and vegetables
  • processed eggs

SFC Licence Renewals

SFC Licences are valid for two (2) years. As SFCR came into effect on January 15, 2019, some SFC Licences began expiring on January 15, 2021. Others expire in the days and weeks that follow. If you have an SFC Licence, you can renew your licence up to 120 days before the expiry date online through your My CFIA account.

Submit your request for renewal as early as possible to allow for processing. If your licence expires, your business will no longer be permitted to import/export your food products.

For more information on how to use the My CFIA account portal, visit My CFIA – User Guidance. For instructions how to renew or amend an issued licence permission, follow the link below.


Renewing Your SFC Licence

Preventative Controls

Under the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations, importers and exporters of food products are required to develop and maintain a Preventative Control Plan (PCP) to ensure food you are importing/exporting is safe for Canadians or international consumers.

The Preventative Control Plan must describe the food being imported/exported, any hazards that pose a risk of contaminating the food, methods to control the risk, foreign supplier control procedures, and consumer protection requirements (e.g. labelling, grade standards, packaging, etc.).

CFIA provides an interactive tool that can help you develop a Preventative Control Plan.

In addition, SFCR requires that you maintain procedures for handling complaints and recalls for your imported/exported food. This also applies to food produced in Canada, whether for export markets or consumption domestically across provincial or territorial borders.


Importers/exporters must maintain traceability records to track and document where food products were purchased and sold.

CFIA provides an interactive tool that can help you determine what your traceability requirements are and when you have to have them in place.

Other SFCR Considerations

In addition to the CFIA, other government departments and agencies regulate the import/export of food products into and out of Canada (e.g., Health Canada, Global Affairs Canada, etc.). As an importer or exporter it is important that you review all specific food groups to ensure compliance with their regulations.

We Can Help

For full details on the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations (SFCR), we recommend visiting CFIA’s Toolkit for Food Businesses and downloading their SFCR handbook for food businesses..

If you have any further questions on SFCR or your general importing/exporting activities, please contact our Customs Consulting Department at consulting@pfcollins.com.

We offer a full range of customs clearance and logistics services to assist with all your importing and exporting needs.


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