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Validation of the Safe Food for Canadians licence to import

To import food regulated under the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations into Canada, importers must possess a valid Safe Food for Canadians (SFC) licence issued by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) before presenting their shipment at the border. Importers will not be able to obtain an SFC licence at the border.

Transactions for the following commodities will be rejected by CFIA unless a valid SFC licence is entered in the Integrated Import Declaration (IID):

An SFC licence to import must:

The SFC licence number must be entered into the "Registration Number" field in IID exactly as it was issued, without any additional words or characters. The licence format is an 8 digit alpha-numeric number (for example, A12B3CD4).

If the licence number entered is not valid, a reject message will be received in the importer or customs broker's IID system. IID will send 1 or more of the following reject messages for invalid licence numbers:

Reject messages and reasons for rejection
Reject message Reason for reject Corrective actions
AIRS registration number is required. (893 – Safe Food Licence). When the registration number field is left blank. Enter your SFC licence number in the registration number field and resubmit your declaration.
Licence number must be 8 digit alpha numeric. (A12B3CD4). Verify licence in My CFIA. When a Y or N is entered or the number provided is not in the CFIA database. (Check for typos)

Ensure your licence number is entered correctly and resubmit your declaration.

If you do not have an SFC licence you will have to apply for one through the My CFIA portal.

Licence number is either suspended, cancelled, or expired. Verify status in My CFIA. When the licence number entered has been suspended, cancelled or expired. If your licence is suspended or cancelled you will have to contact your local CFIA office. If your licence has expired you will have to apply for a new one using the My CFIA portal.
Licence number is not valid for importing. Verify activity in My CFIA. When the licence number entered is not issued for importing food. You can amend your licence in your My CFIA portal to include "importing food" on your licence profile. Resubmit your declaration once you receive a notification that your amendment was accepted.
Licence number entered does not cover food being imported. Verify licence in My CFIA. When the licence number entered is not issued for the food commodity that is being declared.

Review the harmonized system (HS) code and the Other Government Department (OGD) extension declared. Ensure that they are appropriate for the food you are importing. You can use the Automated Import Reference System (AIRS) to determine your food's import requirements, HS code and OGD extension.

You can amend your licence in your My CFIA portal to add or remove commodities from your licence profile. Refer to Annex A for descriptions of the commodities and examples of food included in each sub-commodity. If you add a commodity to your licence profile, resubmit your declaration once you receive a notification that your amendment was accepted.

CFIA recommends that you submit your electronic import declaration as much in advance as possible. You are able to submit your declaration through IID up to 90 days before your shipment arrives at the border. By doing so, you will have more time to address any errors and resubmit the declaration before your shipment reaches Canada.

If you have multiple licences, ensure that the correct licence number is being entered on the import declaration.

Importers can amend their SFC licence at any time without incurring an additional fee through the My CFIA portal.

For more information on food commodities, including examples of foods included in each sub-commodity, refer to Annex A of What to consider before applying for a Safe Food for Canadians licence.

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