A Non-Resident Importer’s Guide to Bringing Food into Canada

A Non-Resident Importer (NRI) is a person or company that imports food into Canada but whose permanent place of business is in a place other than Canada (for instance, the United States). If you are an NRI food importer you can apply for a license under the Safe Food for Canadian Regulations (SFCR).

If you are an NRI, you are required to receive a SFCR license. You can apply for a license if your permanent place of business is located in a country that Canada recognizes as having a food safety system that provides comparable levels of protection as Canada’s system. If you are concerned that your home country doesn’t meet Canada’s requirements, feel free to give the brokers at ARGO Customs a call. They can review Annex A and Annex B which outline the specific foods that are approved for import from designated countries.

How You Can Import Food into Canada as an NRI

First, you can only import food into Canada that is from the country where your fixed place of business is located (i.e., you can’t re-distribute imported foods). For example, a US-based NRI cannot import French cheese or Japanese whiskey into Canada. The US-based NRI may only import food that originates from the United States. However, you can import food from other locales if it was imported into the US where it would have been subject to food inspections and oversight before it is imported into Canada.

The specific requirements for importing food products into Canada can be found in the Automated Import Reference System (AIRS). The AIRS system is continually updated so, prior to importing, you should review the AIRS system to confirm that there aren’t any new requirements for your particular products.

Applying for a License

You can apply for a license online at My CFIA. The online portal allows you to determine which licenses you need to apply for (e.g., manufacture, process, package, etc.) and the requirements for each license. The program is flexible allowing you to acquire the licenses you need to run your business. If you require assistance using the AIRS database, please do not hesitate to contact ARGO Customs.

Contact ARGO Customs Today

If you need assistance importing food products into Canada as a non-resident importer, please call ARGO Customs. Their brokers can walk you through the requirements based on your country and products.