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.

Understanding the New Licensing System Under the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations

The Safe Food For Canadians Regulations (“SFCR”) came into effect on January 15, 2019. Many of the requirements are being phased in over a 12 to 30 month period. The phase-in periods affect fish, meat products, dairy products (including eggs), certain vegetable and fruit products, honey, unprocessed foods, additives, and organic aquaculture foodstuffs. If you need assistance with customs clearance in Canada for these products, please do not hesitate to contact the brokers with ARGO Customs.

About the New SFCR System

Part of the newly-in-force SFCR is a new online licensing system. If you import or export foods into or out of Canada, you can now apply for a license online for whichever activities your business engages in. For example, licenses are available for:

• Importing;
• Manufacturing;
• Treating;
• Packaging;
• And processing food products.

The new licensing system streamlines the old process by creating a universal system to identify who is involved in the production and supply of food in Canada. As you can imagine, the purpose of the system is to improve safety in the food supply system. Moreover, the system is not dogmatic; it is flexible allowing you to structure your license application to apply to the business in which you engage. For example, you can apply for licenses for importing and packaging but not for manufacturing, treating, or processing of food products. Finally, the system more closely aligns Canada’s food inspection and safety system with international norms allowing you to export your food products more easily.

If you are unsure if your business needs a license, the Canada Food Inspection Agency designed this interactive tool to help you. Moreover, if you would like more specialized attention regarding customs clearance in Canada, you can always contact ARGO Customs for assistance. In general, if your business engages in any of the above-listed activities as it relates to food, you likely will be required to apply for a license.

Understanding the Difference Between DRC vs. SFCR

Please be advised about the difference between a Safe Food for Canadians license and a Dispute Resolution Corporation (DRC) membership. The DRC is a non-profit that was founded to encourage ethical and fair-trade practices by providing a forum for the effective resolution of trade disputes which – in theory – reduces trade externalities. An important note, if you want to import fresh fruit, you need an SFCR license and DRC membership.

ARGO Customs Can Help

Contact ARGO customs today for more information about customs clearance in Canada and importing and exporting.

What You Need to Know Regarding the Participating Government Agencies (PGA) Program and How it Relates to Customs Clearance in Canada

Since January 2019, a significant amount of products are now regulated by the Participating Government Agencies (PGA) program which seeks to move more goods into the Single Window initiative (SWI) which will streamline the sharing of commercial import data among the participating agencies. This means that you no longer have to check with two, three, or more government agencies to ensure that you are in compliance with Canadian customs clearance regulations; you can get all the rules you need to know in one convenient location – SWI.

So far, the following nine agencies are participating in PGA:

1. Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA)
2. Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC)
3. Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC)
4. Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO)
5. Global Affairs Canada (GAC)
6. Health Canada (HC)
7. Natural Resources Canada (NRCan)
8. Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC)
9. Transport Canada (TC)

Co-regulated Goods

Certain goods and products are subject to co-regulation. Chapter 23 of the Electronic Commerce Client Requirements Document provides more detail. But, in summary, the following commodities are subject to regulations by multiple entities. Agricultural products and tires are subject to further inspection by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency; vehicles are subject to regulation by Transport Canada and certain aquatic biotechnology products are subject to additional regulation by Fisheries and Oceans Canada. There are many more products and commodities subject to additional regulation and the brokers at ARGO Customs can help you navigate the various regulations.

ARGO Customs Brokers are fully-integrated into the SWI IID system which ensures that we can quickly input your entries and confirm that your goods are cleared for entry into Canada. If you need experienced customs clearance into Canada, you cannot do better than the experts are ARGO Customs Brokers. If you need help importing your goods into Canada, please do not hesitate to contact us today.

Everything You Need to Know About Importing Specialty Steel Products into Canada

ARGO Customs Brokers are among the premier customs brokers in Toronto and throughout Canada. Their experienced brokers can assist your business in importing carbon and specialty steel products from a variety of countries. ARGO Customs brokers can help your business estimate VAT, import duties, and handle everything you need to get your goods across the border and connected to a reliable shipper.

Carbon steel

Carbon steel includes a broad range of products from semi-finished, such as blooms, billets, ingots, sheet bars, wire rods, sheet metal, plate, wire products, structural shapes (i.e. beams, pipes, and tubes), railway products, and other products are described in the Import Control List. The Import Control List describes all products that are subject to additional screening or import duties due to the nature of the product, which includes many different things from chemicals to weapons of war (or things can be used to create weapons of war).

Specialty steel

The carbon steel list specifically excludes the specialty steel products which are described in section 70 and include: flat-rolled steel (i.e. plate, strip, and sheet), stainless steel pipes, bars, tubes, wire, and other wire products, steel mold, alloy tool steel, and steel used in high-speed applications. Essentially, this includes all steel products that have been semi-worked and are used in specialty applications; unlike carbon steel, which has broader applications.

Take special note of certain steel products that are classified by HTS code 7208.25.00.00 et. seq. and can be found here. These goods are described in the customs tariff and are not subject to the surtax order because they are imported in small quantities.

ARGO Customs Brokers use a Single Window Initiative (SWI) certified system that ensures their brokers can review and submit your entries very quickly. If you need a customs brokers in Toronto, or at any major port-of-entry please do not hesitate to contact ARGO Customs Brokers today!

Importing a vehicle into Canada for personal use.

ARGO Customs brokers are using a streamline SWI to process vehicles

via Single Window Initiative (SWI) Integrated Import Declaration (IID) (service option (SO) 911 which allows us to submit all information electronically 9no RIV Form 1 is needed to be presented on paper at the border).

Importing Motor Vehicles

The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) assists Transport Canada with the administration of the Motor Vehicle Safety Act and the Motor Vehicle Safety Regulations by administering and enforcing the conditions under which new and used vehicles may be imported at CBSA points of entry. The Motor Vehicle Safety Act regulates the importation of vehicles to reduce the risk of death, injury, and damage to property and the environment.

To be eligible for importation into Canada, vehicles must qualify for entry under one of the following two principals:

1. vehicles that are required to be registered in the RIV Program, which only applies to US specification vehicles purchased or originally sold in the US at the retail level;

2. vehicles that are not required to be registered in the RIV Program, which applies to all other vehicle entries including CMVSS vehicles, age-exempt vehicles, non-regulated vehicles and vehicles imported temporarily.

Under the Single Window Initiative, release requests will be submitted utilizing a new Integrated Import Declaration (IID) that allows ARGO Customs brokers to submit and obtain electronic release for goods also regulated by participating department and agencies.

For most commercial importations of vehicles, the completion of a Vehicle Importation Form – Form 1 and Vehicles Imported for Parts – Form 3 can be processed via the IID.

Vehicles imported under the case-by-case process will no longer be required to present a case-by-case letter for both Canadian and US specification vehicles. However, importers will need to continue to apply to Transport Canada 4 to 6 weeks in advance to obtain approval and to receive a case-by-case authorization number that can be used in the IID process.

ARGO Customs – Importing Goods and Vehicles into Canada

ARGO Customs Brokers now submit required data electronically, including the Statement of Compliance. In addition, required images (e.g., licence(s), permit(s), and certificate(s) and other(s) can be electronically submitted through the use of the new Document Image Functionality.

The Mexico Steel Goods Remission Order came into effect on February 2, 2019.

Effective Feb. 2, Mexican energy tubular products (such as those used to build pipelines) and wire rod shipments will no longer cost an extra 25 per cent under Canada’s emergency ‘safeguard’ measures.

Steel (some particular goods & HS codes related to) from other countries that don’t have free trade agreements with Canada will continue to face the extra tax.

• Heavy plate
• Concrete reinforcing bar
• Energy tubular products
• Hot-rolled sheet
• Pre-painted steel
• Stainless steel wire
• Wire rod

These are imported from all countries except for the exclusions listed below:

a) goods originating in Canada.
b) goods originating in and imported from the U.S., Chile, and Israel or another CIFTA beneficiary.
c) goods, specifically heavy plate, concrete reinforcing bar, hot-rolled sheet, pre-painted steel and stainless-steel wire, originating in and imported from Mexico.

Customs Clearance and Importing into Canada

Please ask ARGO Customs Brokers when you are planning to import a such kind of goods. We’ll be happy to assist.

How to Clear Customs into Canada and How a Customs Broker Can Help

Customs is the process by which the Canada Border Services Agency (“CBSA”) and affiliated agencies which is responsible for enforcing Canada’s import and export laws. For example, the application of taxes and duties, review of products which are forbidden to exit or enter Canada, holding periods, and the transit of goods through Canada to their final destinations.

To clear customs in Canada, you need to be familiar with these six steps:

1. Preparing your import;
2. Identifying your goods;
3. Ascertaining duties and taxes;
4. Shipping, examining, and reporting your goods;
5. Getting your products released; and
6. Record keeping after goods is released.

Preparing to Import

To import your goods, you must obtain a business number from the CBSA which will allow you to pay the duties and taxes. Next and identify the goods you want to import, including the country of origin – which impacts the taxes, and which also informs you whether Canada even allows your good to enter. Finally, ascertain if your goods are subject to any restrictions or regulations.

At this point, you can hire a customs broker in Canada. Customs brokers in Canada can help you clear customs by advising you on your goods, identifying the duties, and ascertaining if any special paperwork is required. They handle the customs process, so you don’t have to. Second, you need to classify your goods. You know what you’re importing, but the CBSA doesn’t. the CBSA uses a 10-digit tariff classification system which tells the CBSA all of the above information. Third, you need to calculate your duties and taxes, which you a customs broker in Canada can help you with.

Next, you ship your goods. Make sure that you report your goods once they are prepared for shipping. The fifth step is getting your goods released, which requires submitting proof of payment of applicable duties and taxes and clearing any other issues (such as special exemptions, etc.).

Remember, the CBSA can verify your importations, so you need to keep all your paperwork for at least six years and make sure it is accurate, so if you see any errors - correct them.

ARGO Customs Brokers Are Here To Help

ARGO Customs Brokers are positioned at all major ports of entry. ARGO Customs Brokers are ready and happy to assist with your food importations and licensing.

Do You Need to Import Goods into Vancouver and Canada? ARGO Customs Can Help

Clearing customs can be a cumbersome and complex process. You need to identify the goods your importing (no, that doesn’t mean look at them and say “Yep, that’s a hammer), meaning, you need to classify the goods pursuant to the 10-digit harmonized tariff classification system. Next, you need to determine if your goods are subject to any special regulations or restrictions. Third, you need to coordinate the inspection of your goods with the appropriate authority and, once that is approved, pay your duties and taxes. Next, you need to secure shipping, and finally, you need to keep all your paperwork because the Canada Border Services Agency might audit you.

Sounds simple, right? Okay, no it isn’t. Luckily, there are customs brokers in Canada who can help you through this process. At ARGO Customs Brokers, we provide a broad range of services that can help everyone from commercial importers to personal shipments. Essentially, if you want to import something into Canada, we can help you.


ARGO Customs provides both customs brokerage and consulting services. ARGO Customs can shepherd your goods through the Canada customs system or can provide you with information and knowledge about how to do it yourself. Moreover, ARGO Customs provides information on exporting and importing goods in and out of Vancouver and Canada. ARGO Customs also offers freight forwarding assistance, to get your goods to their final destination and overseas support for clients who wish to import goods into Canada.

ARGO Customs uses proprietary software, developed in-house, to deliver unparalleled service to our clients which allows us to respond to customs clearance issues quickly and to navigate those obscure exemptions and restrictions. ARGO Customs maintains a team of experienced customs brokers who have decades of experience working with the Canada Border Services Agency, the Canada Food Inspection Agency, and other government agencies.


ARGO Customs Brokers are conveniently located at several major ports of entry, including:

1. Toronto;
2. Calgary;
3. Montreal;
4. Vancouver;
5. Edmonton; and
6. Winnipeg.

If you need a good imported into Canada, ARGO Customs can help.

ARGO Customs Brokers Are Here To Help

If you need assistance importing goods into Canada or getting your goods out of customs purgatory, call ARGO Customs Brokers now at 1 (888) 311-8303, or you can call one of our offices directly, including Vancouver at (250) 980-3727, or send us an email at info@argocustoms.com.

Understanding the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations (SFCR)

By mid-January, the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations (“SFCR”) will take effect which means your business may need to get a license. The SFCRs were passed as part of the Safe Food for Canadians Act, which mandated the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (“CFIA”) pass regulations to provide more modern and consistent requirements for the import and export of food, as well as the trade of food between the provinces. The Act also required the CFIA to streamline the rules spread across several different laws and introduce income-based regulations for food safety to reduce the burden on lower-income businesses and individuals.


On January 15, 2019, all Canadian businesses will need to determine if they need to obtain a license from the CFIA. If you’re unsure, the CFIA has published this helpful guide. First, use the licensing interactive tool to determine if your business needs a license. If you do, you will need to sign-up for an online account here.

You will need a license if you conduct the following activities:

1. Store and handle meat that is imported;
2. Export food;
3. Import food;
4. Manufacture, process, grade, preserve, treat, label, or package food is going to be sent across territorial or provincial borders or exported; or
5. Slaughter animals for meat which will be exported or transported across territorial/provincial borders.

If your business engages in multiple activities that require a license, you can apply for a multi-license. In the event you engage in only one type of business, you can apply for a solo license. To apply for a license, the CFIA requires the following information: (1) the purpose for which your applying for the license (i.e. which of the covered activities); (2) location of where the activities are taking place; and (3) the types of food for which you’re seeking the license.

What if I already have a license?

If your business already holds a license under the Canada Agricultural Products Act, the Meat Inspection Act, or the Fish Inspection Act, it will remain effective until the expiration even when the SFCR comes into force. Yes, your license under these previous acts remains valid so long as you have a statement on file that it is also issued under the SFCA.

ARGO Customs Are Here to Help

ARGO Customs Brokers are positioned at all major ports of entry. ARGO Customs is ready and happy to assist with your food importations and licensing. Contact our team today to learn more about our services and solutions.

Canada Border Services Agency Issues Final Determination on Cold-Rolled Steel from China, South Korea, and Vietnam

On October 31, 2018, The Canada Border Services Agency (“CBSA”) issued its Notice of Final Determinations concluding its nearly eight-month review regarding the dumping and subsidizing of cold-rolled steel cut lengths or coiled from Vietnam, South Korea, and China. Dumping and subsidizing activities violate section 38(1) of the Special Import Measures Act (“SIMA”) which was passed to ensure that Canadian businesses aren’t undermined by foreign government intervention.

Dumping or Subsidizing Goods

Some foreign governments aid their domestic industry by either (1) offering subsidies to reduce the cost of business and allow them to compete with foreign businesses in foreign markets (like Chinese steel in Canada) or by dumping. Dumping is the practice of overproducing a product domestically, so a country can sell it internationally to undermine foreign businesses and corner markets in particular goods. The CBSA is charged with investigating allegations of subsidizing and dumping and to pass tariffs or other measures to balance these activities. The affected goods are a variety of cold-rolled steel and a more extensive list can be found in the tariff classification schedule.


The CBSA found that Vietnam engaged in 99.2% of its margins were dumped. Moreover, that 6.5% subsidy was provided for each product (amounting to 2.6M Vietnamese Dong per metric tonne of cold-rolled steel). Similarly, China’s margin of dumping was 91.9% and its subsidy was 11.6% (or about 506 Renminbi). Finally, South Korea’s dumping was 53% and its subsidy was an impressive 11.3% (or about 86,700 Won). Keep in mind, these amounts were only calculated by the CBSA to estimate the subsidy. These values do not determine how much (if any) countervailing duties will be imposed on the affected goods.

Note, that this is only one step in the process. The Canadian International Trade Tribunal (“CITT”) continues its investigation into the harm done to the domestic industry by these activities. It is not expected to issue a final determination until December 21, 2018. So, keep an eye out for those final determinations. Until the final determination from the CITT, provisional duties will continue to apply to the affected classifications.

How ARGO Customs Can Help Your Business

If you’re concerned about the import of cold-rolled steel into Canada, ARGO Customs Brokers are here to assist you. We can work with your business if it is affected by the CITT ruling and help you keep working. Contact ARGO Customs today for further information.