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Assigning establishment identification numbers under the Safe Food for Canadians Act and regulations

On this page

  1. Purpose
  2. Scope
  3. Authority
  4. Definitions
  5. Obtaining an establishment ID number
  6. Grandfathering of facility or establishment registration numbers issued pre-SFCR
  7. When and how new establishment ID numbers are issued
  8. Requesting an export certificate
  9. Change of establishment address
  10. Change of ownership of an establishment
  11. Changes to export eligibility lists
  12. Food hubs
  13. Additional information

1. Purpose

This document provides guidance to industry on the approach and procedures that the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) will follow for assigning establishment identification (ID) numbers (formerly referred to as facility or establishment registration numbers). While the CFIA's regulatory framework has shifted to licences under the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations (SFCR), there continues to be a need for unique establishment identifiers.

2. Scope

These guidelines apply to establishments that are operated by parties who are licensed under the SFCR and who:

  • manufacture food that requires an inspection legend
  • prepare dairy, meat, processed egg or fish that will be exported either by themselves or by someone else; or
  • request to be added to an export eligibility list

3. Authority

4. Definition

Food hub

Food hubs are facilities used by small, medium sized, or emerging food businesses to prepare food. These businesses may lease or rent the food hub in order to use their facility, equipment, or staff. Food hubs may also be referred to as innovation centres, pilot plants, or commercial kitchens.

5. Obtaining an establishment ID number (new establishments or establishments new to exporting)

Generally speaking establishments should only obtain 1 establishment ID number per physical location. CFIA will no longer issue multiple establishment ID numbers for a single physical address operated by the same party.

However, CFIA recognizes that in some circumstances, establishments can have different leasing/collocating circumstances depending on their business scenario, for example:

  • a single proprietary owner
  • 2 companies operating out of a space at separate times
  • 2 companies operating out of segregated spaces
  • a landlord/tenant or food hub scenario

In these example scenarios described above, each licence holder may be assigned their own unique establishment ID number even if they share a physical location.

Keep in mind

If your food business is exporting and co-leasing an establishment with another exporter, you should be aware that all Safe Food for Canadians (SFC) licence holders at the establishment could be affected if non-compliances are identified during an inspection of 1 of the SFC licence holders.

6. Grandfathering of facility or establishment registration numbers issued pre-SFCR

Under the previous regulations, facility or establishment registration numbers were issued for each food commodity since there were multiple regulations governing the registration of food establishments. Under the SFCR, the issuance of multiple establishment ID numbers to a single company operating in 1 physical location will no longer be necessary.

Establishments that were previously registered under 1 or more repealed regulations will be able to keep their existing facility or establishment registration number(s) so that there are no disruptions to trade or export eligibility. These facility or establishment registration numbers will now be called establishment ID numbers. If a company wishes to exclusively use 1 of their establishment numbers, they may request that export eligibility lists are updated accordingly.

Keep in mind

Changes to establishment ID numbers may have an impact on your export eligibility to foreign countries if your business is included in export eligibility lists.

Export eligibility lists are maintained by foreign trading partners, and as such, the CFIA cannot guarantee a specified time frame for completing the updates. Please contact your local CFIA office for more information.

7. When and how new establishment ID numbers are issued

Establishment ID numbers are generated when certain activities and sub-activities for specific commodities are selected in your SFC licence application. Table 1 outlines the activities and sub-activities for which an establishment ID number may be issued. For some commodities, establishment ID numbers will be generated automatically when the SFC licence is issued; for other commodities, the company is responsible for submitting a request for an establishment ID number to the CFIA based on its export needs. All requests must be submitted in writing to your local CFIA office and include a valid SFC licence number, licensed activities, legal name and establishment address.

Table 1: Criteria for issuing new establishment ID numbers
Commodities Activity Sub-activities New ID number issued?

Meat and poultry

Fish

Processed egg

Preparing food for export

Preparing food for inter-provincial trade

All Yes
Dairy Preparing food for export All Yes
Food animals

Slaughter of food animals for export

Slaughter of food animals for inter-provincial trade

N/A Yes
Fish Storage All Upon request

Honey

Fresh fruit or vegetables

Processed fruit or vegetable products

Maple

Shell egg

Manufactured foods

All All Upon request

Keep in mind

Note: for commodities where an establishment ID number could be issued "Upon Request", you are responsible for submitting a written request for an establishment ID number to the CFIA by contacting your local CFIA office. The establishment ID number will be issued based on your export needs.

8. Requesting an export certificate

Licensed manufacturers preparing food for export can apply for export certificates using their own establishment ID number for products manufactured at that location. Licensed exporters (except in the case of meat) can apply for export certificates for products prepared by a licensed manufacturer, provided that the product meets the export eligibility requirements of the foreign country and the licensed exporter appears on an export eligibility establishment list.

9. Change of establishment address

If the establishment address changes, the new establishment location will be issued a new establishment ID number. The previous number cannot be used once the physical address changes. Please contact your local CFIA office to notify the CFIA of an establishment address change and request a new establishment ID number for the new location.

The use of any remaining labels with the previous establishment ID number may cause issues for some businesses. Contact your local CFIA office to determine the conditions for using up labels with the outdated establishment ID numbers.

Keep in mind

Please note that changes to establishment ID numbers may impact your eligibility to export to foreign countries that use export eligibility lists. These lists are maintained by foreign trading partners and as such, the CFIA cannot guarantee a specified time for completion of list changes. Please contact your local CFIA office for more information.

10. Change of ownership of an establishment

The establishment ID number remains with the establishment when the ownership changes. The new owner will continue to remain on export eligibility lists using the existing establishment ID number. It is not necessary or recommended for the new owner to request a new establishment ID number, but requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis. However, if the new owner requests a new establishment ID number, this will require an amendment to any export eligibility lists that the establishment was previously listed on. Please contact your local CFIA office to notify the CFIA of an establishment change of ownership.

11. Changes to export eligibility lists

When a new establishment ID number is issued, export eligibility lists may need to be amended. The CFIA will process amendments to foreign export eligibility lists as per current processes. All amendment requests must be submitted to the local CFIA office. Timelines for changing these lists are dependent on the foreign competent authority. The CFIA cannot specify a timeframe for the completion of any amendments.

12. Food hubs

Food hubs are typically used by new food businesses to test and launch their products or by micro and small businesses without having the commercial capacity to maintain their operations, or expand and grow their market.

Under the SFCR, the issuance of establishment ID numbers to food hubs and/or companies that use food hubs will differ depending on how they operate.

Keep in mind

If your company uses food hubs please be aware that you have a shared responsibility with the food hub owner to ensure that all requirements of the preventive controls of part 4 of the SFCR are met, even if certain control measures may not be under the direct control of your company.

Companies using food hubs should work with the food hub owners to understand how preventive controls are being implemented and monitored. They should also be aware that if food safety issues are identified with other food businesses using the food hubs, the CFIA's inspection may impact your company's food, food production and licence.

There are 2 ways that a food hub can operate:

  • the food hub conducts activities for the company under the food hub's licence; or
  • the company uses the food hub equipment and facility to conduct activities under the company's licence

1. The food hub conducts activities for the company under the food hub's licence

In this scenario, the food hub must apply for a SFC licence that covers the activities that they are conducting. As the licence holder, the food hub may be issued an establishment ID number based on the criteria defined in Table 1.

Food hubs operating under this scenario may be able to meet the requirements for export certificates and foreign export eligibility establishment lists. The company using the food hub is responsible for verifying with the food hub that their business scenario meets the requirements to export.

Please note that the company using the food hub may also require another SFC licence, in addition to the SFC licence of the food hub, if it is performing a licensable activity with respect to the food.

2. The company uses the food hub facility and equipment to conduct activities under the company's licence

In this scenario, the food hub should not apply for a SFC licence or be issued an establishment ID number since they are not conducting any licensable activities. Any company using the food hub will require an SFC licence for the licensable activities they are conducting. As the licence holder, each company using the food hub may be issued an establishment ID number based on the criteria defined in Table 1.

12.1. Food hubs with establishment numbers issued pre-SFCR

Prior to the implementation of the SFCR, a single food hub may have been issued multiple, commodity-specific facility or establishment registration numbers.

Food hubs that have pre-SFCR facility or establishment registration number(s) and that are on export eligibility lists will maintain their eligibility to the specified markets. These facility or establishment registration numbers will now be called establishment ID numbers. The food hub will continue to be the only eligible party that can request export certificates related to the establishment ID number. These food hubs must obtain an SFC licence to continue to maintain their establishment ID number and their export eligibility list status. Additionally, companies using these food hubs must also obtain an SFC licence to cover licensable activities, however the CFIA will not issue a separate establishment ID number to these companies.

Food hubs that are currently on export eligibility lists will be permitted to continue their export operations in the same manner as they did prior to the SFCR and these new food hub guidelines.

13. Additional Information

Facility or establishment registration number versus establishment identification (ID) number

Facility or establishment registration number

Prior to the coming-into-force of the SFCR, establishments were issued registration numbers based on the former specific food regulation that was applicable to the establishment. These establishments may have been issued multiple, commodity-specific establishment registration numbers if they were formerly registered under more than 1 act or regulation.

Establishment identification (ID) number

An establishment ID number is unique to each company holding an SFC licence at a physical address. For example, if more than 1 company operates from the same physical address, each company may be assigned its own establishment ID number for that address. Legacy facility or establishment registration numbers will now be called establishment identification (ID) number.