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.