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Protocol: Controls required for eligibility to partially completed certificates

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1. Purpose

This document provides guidance to industry on the criteria that need to be met to be considered eligible to participate in a protocol to receive partially completed export certificates and the requirements of the protocol. The protocol describes the administrative process that the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) will follow to issue certificates for establishments that meet the eligibility requirements described below.

2. Scope

These guidelines apply to establishments (see 5.1 Establishment eligibility) that are licensed under the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations (SFCR) and require partially completed export certificates for eligible live and/or fresh product (see 5.2 Product eligibility).

3. Authority

Safe Food for Canadians Act, (S.C. 2012, c. 24)

Safe Food for Canadians Regulations, (SOR/2018-108)

Canadian Food Inspection Agency Fees Notice

4. Definitions

Partially completed certificate

An export certificate that has been completed, signed and stamped by an inspector designated under the authority of the Safe Food for Canadians Act (SFCA) and which contains all of the information required to be on the certificate, with the exception of the consignee (name/address), lot size and identification (for example, number of units, weight, lot numbers/production code(s), total weight), date of departure, and mode of transportation.


Export certificates that contain attestations related to aquatic animal health may or may not be eligible to be issued under the partially completed certificate protocol. If the aquatic animal health attestations do not apply to the products being certified, the certificate may be eligible to be issued under the partially completed certificate protocol.

Replacement certificate

Replacement certificates are export certificates issued to replace an original certificate after the product has left Canada. A replacement certificate may only be issued by a designated CFIA inspector. A partially completed certificate shall not be used as a replacement certificate.

5. Eligibility requirements

Establishments are eligible to participate in a protocol for partially completed export certificates when the criteria outlined in this section are met. The CFIA will not issue partially completed certificates if these criteria are not met.

5.1 Establishment eligibility

Safe Food for Canadians (SFC) licence

Only establishments with a valid Safe Food for Canadians (SFC) licence are eligible to receive partially completed certificates.

Please note that SFC licence holders that only have exporting food as their sole licensable activity are not eligible to receive partially completed certificates.

Fish export brokers and cold storage warehouses are not eligible for this protocol.

Export certification control

The establishment has in place a preventive control plan (PCP) and traceability controls that are acceptable to the CFIA.

Establishments have flexibility in approach when constructing a PCP. Export certification controls could be incorporated within the PCP or be written as standalone elements under a separate Export Certification Control Program (ECCP) plan. See A guide for preparing an Export Certification Control Program (ECCP) plan for details on export control elements.

Business case

The establishment has a valid need for export certificates outside of regular CFIA office hours.

The establishment has provided a valid reason for requiring export certificates outside of regular CFIA office hours based on shipping considerations, product perishability (see 5.2 Product eligibility), and the standard timeframe for obtaining a signed certificate.

Compliance history

The establishment has an acceptable product and export certification compliance history.

The establishment has an acceptable compliance history with regards to the fish and seafood they have been exporting and the accuracy of the information provided for the certification of consignments.

Instances of previous non-compliances may render an establishment ineligible to participate in this protocol in which case the establishment would be subject to the standard export certification procedures. Examples where this may occur:

5.2 Product eligibility

The products that are eligible for certification using partially completed export certificates are:

The fish may be of domestic or imported origin. Products must be labelled in a manner that meets the requirements of the SFCR. Products which do not meet the SFCR must meet the requirements of the importing country (see Policy on the export of non-compliant food for more details).

Products for which partially completed certificates are issued must be in the possession of the consignor at the time that the certificate is completed by the consignor.


Standard certification procedures apply to all other fish products including those that are frozen or canned as well as Ready-to-Eat, salted, pickled, or smoked.

6. Protocol requirements

The establishment must develop a written protocol that meets the requirements of this guidance document. The controls and procedures must be implemented in order to ensure that the integrity of issued export certificates and certified consignments is maintained.

6.1 Exporter controls

The establishments must submit to the local CFIA office a written protocol which outlines the following elements:

Management commitment

A declaration from management agreeing to the requirements of the protocol and attesting to their commitment in maintaining the necessary control measures and records to ensure compliance.

Products to be certified

A description of the eligible live and/or fresh products (see 5.2 Product eligibility) that require partially completed certificates.

Controls when requesting certificates


In order to request partially completed certificate, the exporter must submit an application form to their local CFIA office with information on various elements as stipulated below. This form is also used to confirm the reception of the partially completed certificates for a 30 day period. A copy of the “Request and confirmation of receipt for partially completed certificates” form can be obtained from the local CFIA office.

The procedures, forms used, and the person(s) responsible for:

Controls to ensure proper completion of certificates

The procedures for completing certificates and verifying that the certificates are correct and accurate.

The information on the certificate or the certification request must identify:


Only the protocol holder may be listed as the consignor.

The partially completed certificate must be completed with the following information prior to shipment:

Use of partially completed certificates

The procedures to notify the CFIA, on at least a monthly basis, of all shipments using partially completed certificates. This must include a summary of the number and types of certificates used and a copy of each completed certificate.

Replacement and/or void certificates

The procedures to notify the CFIA of certificates completed and voided by the company (not used). The original voided certificate is to be sent to the CFIA on a monthly basisFootnote 1.

Only the CFIA can issue replacement certificates (see Replacement certificates). A partially completed certificate shall not be used as a replacement certificate.

Tracking of certificates

The procedures for tracking the partially completed certificates received, completed and voided should include the:

6.2 Protocol monitoring and corrective action procedures

The protocol must describe the following for the elements identified above under 6.1 Exporter controls:

  1. controls, procedures, forms used and responsible person(s)
  2. monitoring procedures for verifying controls are implemented as written
  3. corrective actions followed to address situations where there is a failure to comply with the requirements; includes corrective actions taken to get back into compliance with the requirements and prevent the situation from re-occuring

The following information must be recorded:

7. Administration of protocols

Protocols are valid for a period of one year from the date of their approval and are not transferable. Protocols may be submitted to the CFIA when the exporter submits their application for SFC licence renewal to minimize administrative burden.

Eligibility for inclusion in this program may be cancelled at any time if the protocol requirements are not met or the certification fees are not paid.

7.1 Renewal of the protocol

A request to renew a protocol, as part of the licensing process under the SFCR, must be submitted to the CFIA in advance of the annual expiry date.

The CFIA will conduct regulatory verifications to assess compliance with the protocol requirements. Deficiencies identified by the CFIA must be addressed with corrective action procedures.

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