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Procedures for the use of Official Meat Inspection Certificates (OMIC)

On this page

  1. Time of import
  2. Official Meat Inspection Certificate (OMIC)
  3. Instructions for completing certificates
  4. Australia and New Zealand
  5. Document validation of imported meat and meat products shipments
  6. Acceptable and unacceptable OMIC
  7. Refused certificates
  8. Replacement of the OMIC

1. Time of import

The term "import" is not specifically defined in the Safe Food for Canadians Act (SFCA) nor in the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations (SFCR). In general terms, "import" refers to entering into Canada from a foreign state

In the context of the SFCA/SFCR, the "time of import" refers to the moment when the meat products physically arrive in Canada. In practical terms, it is at the point of entry by vessel, air or truck. After that moment meat products are considered as imported in Canada. With respect to SFCR section 13, import documents, including the official meat inspection certificate (OMIC), must be presented to Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) before or at the time of import at the first point of entry in Canada. In the case of an entry by vessel, the import documents may be provided when the vessel is in the internal waters of Canada and the territorial sea of Canada.

Safe Food for Canadians Regulations

Provision of import information

13 (2) The information referred to in subsection (1), and any documents required by sections 96 and 104 and paragraph 167(d), must be provided before or at the time of the import.

2. Official Meat Inspection Certificate (OMIC)

OMICs for exporting meat products to Canada must be elaborated and authenticated during the procedure of approving the foreign country meat inspection system. The standard form of the certificate is shown in Official Meat Inspection Certificate Form (for all countries other than the United States). OMICs are negotiated between CFIA and foreign competent authorities and include information pertaining to food safety, traceability and animal health certification to prevent the risk to introduce animal disease into Canada. Each OMIC is negotiated and approved for specific meat product(s) and only this (these) meat product(s) can be imported using the proper OMIC. Since it contains animal health certification, OMICs must be signed by a veterinarian of the competent authority.

It is the responsibility of the competent authority responsible for meat inspection of the exporting country to customize and reproduce the certificate. Only the authenticated OMIC shall be used for exporting meat to Canada.

In all circumstances, the certificate must be issued by the last country where the last processing took place. Note that storage and other activities like labelling and packaging are not considered as a processing step.

Table of scenarios when different countries (A and B) are involved in the meat export process and CFIA decision
Slaughtered in country Processed in country Stored in country Export establishment in country Country where the OMIC is issued CFIA decision – Shipment allowed (Yes/No)
A A A A A Yes
A A B B B No
A B B B B Yes
A B A A A No
A B A B B Yes

Note: all establishments listed on the certificate (slaughter, processing, storage, export) must be eligible to export meat products to Canada. The exporting establishment must be from the same country issuing the certificate. Other factors such as species of imported meat products and animal health concerns, requirement of an animal health import permit may affect CFIA decision to allow or not the entry of the shipment into Canada.

For OMICs from countries other than United States, the certificate must be presented in English and at least 1 additional language (French and/or 1 of the official languages of the exporting country). For the United States, the certificate is printed in English only.

The name of the country, the official country stamp/crest and the name of the competent authority responsible for meat inspection of the exporting country must be printed and captured on the OMIC in the manner which is legible and identifiable.

The certificate can be reproduced on different sizes of paper (for example: 21.5 cm × 28 cm or 21 cm × 30 cm). If more than 1 sheet of paper is used for a single certificate, each sheet must contain the entire certificate number, the name and original signature of the official veterinarian, the date of signing and the official stamp. If the certificate is printed double sided, the name and original signature of the official veterinarian, the date of signing and the official stamp on 1 side of each page is acceptable.

If a multi-part (carbon copies) certificate form is used, then the word "original" must be printed on the original certificate and additional multiple copies must have either the word "copy" or "duplicate" printed on them.

The ink colour used for the signature and official stamp (if not embossed) must be different from that used to print the original certificate.

The certificate number must be a sequential number immediately following the country code (for example: AUS 0000). Refer to the list of International 2 and 3 letter country codes. This same number must be stamped on all shipping cartons of product covered by that certificate unless shipping marks are used. Refer to the Use of Shipping Marks for more details. For some countries the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) code may not precede the certificate number but it must be captured in 1 of the boxes in the OMIC.

Some countries may add vertical lines to separate information such as shipping marks, number and type of packages, description of the meat products and net weight. This information may be captured in OMIC or in an annex. If an annex is accompanying the OMIC then the annex must bear the certificate number of the OMIC it is accompanying , and must be signed by the same official who signed the OMIC and on the same date.

Any other modification of the authenticated OMIC will result in the invalidation of the certificate and consequently the refusal of the shipment.

3. Instructions for completing certificates

3.1 Certificates issued by United States

For instructions for completing certificates issued by United States, please refer to the Official Meat Inspection Certificate forms from the United States.

American exporters seeking guidelines for completing export certificate "Food Safety and Inspection Service" (FSIS - Form 9135-3) should refer to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) FSIS "Export Requirements for Canada". American exporters should also consult the following section, since the information to be certified will correspond with the FSIS export certificate even where the numbering of boxes and items differ.

3.2 Certificates issued by countries other than United States

Exporter/consignor: name and address of the exporter.  The exporter can be from a different country than the country where the export certificate is issued.

Importer/consignee: name, address and license number of the SFC import license holder. The importer can be a non-resident. Refer to Non-resident importers for more details.

Certificate number: number immediately following the country code. Refer to the list of International 2 and 3 letter country codes. Example: International 2 or 3 letter country code followed by 00001. The certificate number should be printed or stamped; handwritten certificate numbers are not acceptable. Sometimes, the International 2 or 3 letter country code may not precede the export certificate number. In this case, it could be captured in another box separately on the export certificate. For TRACES NT (Trade Control and Expert System) certificates, the information management system for official controls (IMSOC) Reference is corresponding to the certificate number and the country of origin is referring to the 2 or 3 letter country code.

Country of origin: country where the certificate is issued and where the last processing took place.

Carrier: name of the carrier, name of the vessel and the voyage number, name of the airline and the flight number, or name of the trucking firm, as applicable.

Date of departure: the date when the shipment has been booked to depart the exporting country by air, truck or vessel. Under no circumstances can the OMIC be issued after this date.

Port of loading: name of the port where the meat product was loaded for export to Canada.

Port of landing (point of entry): name of the Canadian port where the meat product will be entering Canada. Under no circumstances the imported meat shipment should leave the point of entry without CFIA approval and release recommendation provided to Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), even for in bond shipments intended for commercial purposes in Canada. Bonded shipments must proceed to a bonded warehouse that is also a licence holder facility for the purposes of inspection of imported meat in its imported condition. Note that the port of landing is not to be confused with the place of release by the CBSA.

Slaughtered at: official number, name of the establishment and the country where the animals were slaughtered and from which the meat in the shipment originated. More than 1 establishment may appear in this box, depending on the meat products being certified. The establishments may be located in countries different from the country issuing the certificate only when the meat product has been subjected to some kind of processing activity in the country who issued the certificate. All slaughter plants involved in the production of the final product must be eligible to export meat products to Canada and must be captured either in the designated box or in the remarks section of the OMIC or an annex, if accompanying the OMIC.

Processed at: official number, name of the establishment and the country where the meat product was processed (for example, cutting, curing, cooking). More than 1 establishment may appear in this box, depending on the meat products being certified. In these instances, the appropriate processing establishment number must also be entered, preceding the product description under the dedicated box, for each product/item line. If more than 1 country is involved in the process, then the country must appear next to the name of the establishment. All processing establishments producing product on this certificate must be eligible to export meat products to Canada and they must all be listed on the certificate. The last processing establishment that processed the meat product must be from the country issuing the certificate.

Exporting establishment: the number and the name of the eligible establishment from where the meat product is shipped. Under no circumstances the exporting establishment can be from a different country than the country issuing the certificate.

Shipping marks: see Use of Shipping Marks. If the OMIC number is being applied on each shipping container in the shipment as the reference to the appropriate OMIC, it is not necessary to enter it in the box. (Unused space must be crossed out).

Number and type of packages: the number and the type of packages (shipping containers) used to ship the meat products (for example, combos, cartons, drums). If carcasses are shipped, then the word "carcasses" should be entered after the number. (Unused space must be crossed out.)

Description of the meat product: description of the imported meat product must be identical to the description on the label on the shipping containers. However, the product description on the certificate can be more descriptive than the label (for example ready-to-eat meat products). If there is more than 1 type of meat product on the OMIC, then each product type should be declared on a separate line. In that case, the shipping mark, the number and type of packages, the description of the meat product, and the net weight can be listed horizontally per product type. More than 1 product type can be listed on the certificate as long as all information is listed by product type. Each horizontal line will be considered as a lot. For more details, refer to Operational procedure: visual inspection of imported meat products.

When more than 1 establishment is entered in box "Processed at" or when establishments (for example, slaughter, processing establishment, cold store, etc.) are different for each product type (line), the appropriate establishment number(s) must be entered, preceding the product description of each product type (line).

See example below for processing establishment:

Product description Processing establishment Number and type of packages Net weight (kg) Shipping mark
Pork shank frozen CA100 60 boxes 600 00112233
Beef shoulder frozen CA101 70 boxes 1 400 33221100
Beef liver frozen CA102 6 combos 3 600 44332211

If the box "Product description" does not have enough space to capture all required information, then an Annex can be issued with the certificate. See section 2, for annex requirements.

In the case of unstamped prepackaged meat product (for example meat product in bulk), the product description should be: "unstamped (name of the meat product)".

In the case of a beef carcass, a complete side, a hind quarter, a front quarter, a primal cut or a sub-primal cut:

For example: Corned Beef 05103 N (24 × 340 g)
In all cases, the correct description of the meat product must be the same as the one on the shipping carton. In the case of a beef carcass, a complete side, a hind quarter, a front quarter, a primal cut or a sub-primal cut:

  1. if the product is graded, the grade name or grade symbol must be part of the product description; or
  2. if the product is ungraded, the words "ungraded beef" must be part of the product description (for more details, see Grade requirements for imported meat products)

In the case of graded whole poultry carcasses, the common name must be accompanied by the grade designation in the product description on the OMIC as well as on the label. The common names to be used are listed in the Standards for Poultry Carcasses of the Canadian Standards of Identity Volume 7, Meat Products.

In the case of ungraded whole poultry carcasses, the product must be described as "Ungraded" followed by the common name. The label does not have to specify that the product is ungraded. The common names to be used are listed under Standards for Poultry Carcasses in the Canadian Standards of Identity Volume 7, Meat Products.

In the case of hermetically sealed containers, commercially sterile or pasteurized (cans, retortable pouches), the product description, the number and weight of hermetically sealed containers in the shipping carton are required.

For example: Corned beef canned (24 × 340 g)

For meat products shipped under the Alternative Packaging Procedure and shipping marks see Use of Shipping Marks.(Unused space must be crossed out).

Net weight: the net weight of each category of meat product/product line can be indicated in metric and/or imperial units. The weight units must be entered, following the amount, or, in the case of American certificates, the appropriate weight unit box must be ticked off.(Unused space must be crossed out.)

Container number: number of the transport container into which the shipping containers of the meat products were placed in the country of origin and are being transported to Canada.

Container Seal number(s): the number of the foreign official meat inspection seal / transport or shipping companies' or exporting establishment's seal which is applied to the transport container, trailer, railway car, truck, etc., in the country of origin and is certified by the foreign authorities. All access entries into transport containers must be sealed, when seals are required. Official seals are required on all shipments of meat and meat products imported to Canada from all countries other than the United States. For requirements with respect to the use of official seals, see Use of Official Seals. Official seal serial numbers and other seal numbers must be unique and must not repeat within 1 calendar year.

* For U.S. shipment, only unstamped meat product must bear a seal (official or company) to the transport container and the seal number must be placed in Remarks section.

Additional certification: the additional statements/attestations which may be required for the purposes of animal and/or public health. The required additional country and product specific statements/attestations can be found in countries from which commercial importation of meat products is permitted. The attestations must appear in English, French and in at least 1 of the official languages of the country of origin from where the meat products are being certified for export to Canada. The appropriate attestations are to be inserted in the proper space of the certificate or be provided in the form of an annex to the OMIC, on the competent authority's letter head paper, with reference to additional certification section. (Unused space must be crossed out).

If the annex option is used, each separate sheet should contain the entire certificate number, including the International 2 and 3 letter country codes, date, typed name and the signature of the official veterinarian and the official stamp. The bottom of each page shall be numbered as follows: (page number) of (total number of pages).

Attestations: the attestations as indicated in Official Meat Inspection Certificate Form (for all countries other than the United States), except where a specific agreement exists with some countries: the date on which the certificate was issued and signed, the signature of the official veterinarian. The ink used for the signature must be of different colour from the colour in which the certificate text is printed. The date of issuance of the OMIC can never be later than the date of scheduled departure of shipment from the exporting country.

Printed name: the typed name of the official veterinarian who signed the certificate must be clearly and legibly printed or typed on the certificate in close proximity to the signature.

Official stamp: the official national foreign meat inspection stamp must be applied in this box. The stamp should be embossed, or if applied by stamp, in a colour different from the colour in which the certificate text is printed.

Note: unused space designated for Shipping marks, Number and type of packages, Description of the meat products and Net weight must be crossed out to avoid unauthorized additions to the products/items being certified after signing of the certificate.

4. Australia and New Zealand

The Australia and New Zealand Electronic Certificates (E –cert) are automatically validated by the Import Control Tracking System (ICTS). The CFIA has access to Australian and New Zealand certificates, in an electronic form, issued by the foreign competent authorities.

The Import Inspection Report (IIR) is populated with certificate data and the required public and animal health attestations. Note that the National Import Service Centre (NISC) will not validate for customs clearance any shipments for which the OMIC's data is not registered with the ICTS. In this event, the importer should contact the Australian and New Zealand authorities.

5. Document validation of imported meat and meat products shipments

The meat products shipments imported to Canada must be subject to a documentation inspection by the National Import Service Centre (NISC) of the CFIA before the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) officers may release entry of the shipments into Canada.

In the case of Japan, 2 export certificates, the OMIC issued by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare Inspection and Safety Division and the Export Quarantine Certificate issued by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, must be presented to the NISC-CFIA for documentation inspection prior the release by the CBSA. If 1 of these 2 documents is missing or is incomplete, the importation would not meet the requirements and the CBSA will be informed accordingly.

It is the responsibility of the importers/brokers, to submit the required documents to the NISC-CFIA for inspection of documentation relating to the importation of the meat product shipments.

5.1 CFIA National Import Service Centre

See the National Import Service Centre web site for more information.

5.2 Documentation requirements

The CBSA will refer all shipments of meat products to the CFIA for document inspection before allowing the product to enter Canada except as described in the Procedures for handling in bond shipments, such as shipments in transit.

For commercial shipments of meat products, the following documents must be presented to the NISC-CFIA before or at the time of their import into Canada (Refer to section 1 about the Time of import) for documentation inspection:

  1. meat product shipments have to be presented in the Integrate Import Declaration (IID). If the importer/broker cannot use IID (for example system outages), then the form CFIA/ACIA 5272 "Request for Documentation Review" is required
  2. a copy of the original OMIC
  3. for Japan, copies of the original OMIC and Export Quarantine Certificate
  4. if applicable, the Animal Health Import Permit issued by the CFIA Center of Administration for Permissions (CoA)
  5. if applicable, the grading certificate for United States graded poultry carcasses (PY-210)
  6. if applicable, the FSIS letterhead Certificate for United States bovine, porcine and ovine shipments

The above documents shall be submitted when transmitting the import declaration to the NISC-CFIA.

The National Import Service Centre will inform the importer/broker of the outcome of its inspection of the documentation submitted.

A fee will be charged as per the CFIA Meat Products Inspection Fees, part 10, table 1 of section 6.

6. Acceptable and unacceptable OMIC

The OMIC must be complete, accurate, and legible to be acceptable. Handwritten copies are acceptable but must be all handwritten or all printed except for the certificate number which should be printed or stamped. In addition, only original certificates with an original signature of the foreign government official are acceptable. For the purpose of documentation inspection, the NISC-CFIA will accept copies of the original certificates as the proof that the imported meat products comply with the provisions of the pertinent Canadian legislation.

Photocopies and carbon copies of health certificates are not acceptable for the purposes of import inspections at Canadian establishments licensed for inspection of imported meat products.

The imported shipments of meat products will not be subjected to a required import inspection until the inspector is presented with the original OMIC.

Certificates are not acceptable if any of the item descriptions listed below are erased, typed over, altered, or changed by any other means. If this occurs, the certificate is refused and a replacement certificate must be obtained if the meat product is to be considered for importation.

  1. description of the meat product
  2. shipping marks
  3. number and kind of pieces, containers, packages, etc.
  4. net weight
  5. foreign establishment number
  6. signature of the foreign government official
  7. certificate number

Certificates which contain obvious misspelled words may be accepted.

Unacceptable certificates are refused and the inspection results are entered into the ICTS.

7. Refused certificates

At the written request by the importer, the inspector may provide the importer with the refused original certificate.

8. Replacement of the OMIC

When a shipment of meat products being imported is refused by NISC-CFIA or a CFIA inspectorate for reasons that can be corrected by a replacement certificate, the importer/broker is informed of the situation.

If the replacement certificate is requested by a CFIA inspector at the inspection facility, the importer/broker must notify the appropriate CFIA inspector of their intent to obtain a replacement certificate. This must be given within 2 working days from the time the inspector notified the importer/broker that the shipment was refused. The importer is responsible for arrangements with the exporter to obtain a replacement certificate from the competent authorities. For replacement certificates from Australia or New Zealand see section 8.2. If the appropriate CFIA inspector is not notified within the 2 day period, the involved product may be ordered to be remove from Canada.

The issuing competent authority may request that the first original OMIC be returned to them before they will issue a replacement. This is a security practice to assure that there are no 2 original OMICs in circulation for the same certified shipment.

Alternatively, instead of returning the refused original OMIC to the importer, arrangements may be made with the National Specialist of Import Programs to notify the competent authority that the first original OMIC was duly cancelled and is in possession of the CFIA. The competent authority may accept this assurance in lieu of insisting that the first original OMIC be returned to them.

8.1 Replacement certificate procedures

A replacement certificate may be accepted by the NISC only when the refusal of the previous certificate for the shipment has been entered into the ICTS.

A copy of the replacement certificate must be presented by the importer/broker to the NISC, following the normal entry procedures described in section 5. The NISC will modify the existing Import Control Number to reflect the new certificate number and distribute the IIR following normal procedures. The CFIA fees for review of import documentation shall be applied to all replacement certificates.

Following document inspection, the importer/broker must provide the replacement certificate at the location where the shipment is stored/held until the inspection. Once the replacement certificate is presented to the CFIA inspector, the imported meat products shipment awaiting inspection may be inspected and released if found to be acceptable.

8.2 Replacement certificates for countries with electronic transmission of export information (Australia and New Zealand)

The CFIA is currently receiving all Australian and New Zealand certificates in an electronic form. The electronically received certification data is pre-validated by CFIA E-cert system and entered automatically in the ICTS. In case the CFIA system rejects Australia or New Zealand certification data, a message is automatically sent to Australia and New Zealand E-cert systems about the rejection and a reason is provided. Australia and New Zealand are requested to provide a replacement certificate. The replacement certificates from Australia and New Zealand follow the same process as the original E-certificates and are presented electronically to CFIA E-cert system for validation of export data.

8.3 Replacement certificate statement

When an OMIC is replaced, 1 of the following statements must be entered in the main body of the certificate, before the certificate is signed:
"Issued in lieu of certificate No.space"; or,
"This certificate replaces certificate No.space"; or,
any similar statement.

In the case of countries stamping the export certificate number on the shipping cartons (boxes), the following additional statement is required:
"The export certificate number on the shipping cartons (boxes) covered by this certificate shows certificate numberspace"; or,
any similar statement.

If more than 1 replacement certificate is issued for 1 meat product shipment, each replacement certificate must be referring to the last certificate issued.

Table shows the traceability of certificates issued for a meat product shipment
Certificate Replacement certificate Referring to
A N/A N/A
N/A B A
N/A C B

* Original certificate A
First replacement certificate B referring to A
Second replacement certificate C referring to B

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