Important Information About Importing Food into Canada

Importing sellable food into Canada can be particularly tricky, due to numerous regulations intended to protect Canadian people and the Canadian environment from potential threats.  Food products will be put under extra scrutiny, and you will have additional burdens to see your foods allowed across the border.

As is typical, the best approach is generally to hire a Canadian customs broker to handle the paperwork and regulatory requirements on your behalf.  However, if you are attempting to import food on your own, here are some things you should know.

Critical Information About Canadian Food Imports

1. You will probably need a Safe Food for Canadians (SFC) license

A set of laws known as the Safe Food For Canadians Regulations (SFCR) came into effect in January 2019, and they require licensing for most businesses seeking to import and re-sell food products in Canada.

These regulations are still ramping up into full usage, and at the moment, some food shipments may be accepted at the border without an SFC license, as long as they are otherwise compliant with regulations.  However, this should not be relied upon, and it is strongly advised that you apply for an SFC license as soon as possible.

2. Your foods may be subject to inspection

Border control has wide discretion in inspecting any food products being brought into Canada if they have reason to suspect they may be unsafe. Be prepared for this possibility.  In particular, if you attempt to import foods without an SFC license, there is an extremely high chance that your foods will be inspected - if they are allowed into the country at all.

3. Numerous exceptions exist

 Not all food imports into Canada are subject to SFC regulation.  These are some of the most common exceptions:

  • Food exclusively for personal use, as long as it is within maximum allowed amounts as outlined here.
  • Food which is imported by an immigrant.
  • Food being conveyed between Canadian provinces.
  • Food carried on a transportation system, such as an airplane, intended exclusively for the crew and passengers.
  • Food intended for research, analysis, evaluation, or trade show exhibition - as long as it is 100kg or less.  
  • Food not intended for human consumption.
  • Food being traded between Federal penitentiaries.

ARGO Customs Makes Importation Easier

We are highly experienced trade specialists who can handle all the bureaucracy and regulations surrounding the importation of food into Canada.  Contact us for a consultation