Read the full disclaimer
- Certain requirements for some foods or businesses will not apply on this date. Learn more about timelines.
- If there are inconsistencies between the information found here and a related regulatory requirement, the requirement is what will apply to businesses. Please let us know if you find any such inconsistency by commenting on the resources.
- Until January 15, 2019 current information and requirements (that will be replaced by the SFCA and SFCR) continue to apply.
An export certificate is a type of official assurance, providing an importing country with confirmation from the Canadian government – in this case, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) – that your product or commodity meets certain standards and requirements.
Not all countries or all products require them.
The CFIA issues export certificates only for products still in Canada. Products no longer in Canada are Not eligible for certification because the CFIA is unable to attest to the compliance of the food to any requirements.
If required, the export certificate accompanies a consignment to its destination country, confirming the consignment's compliance with specific standards and requirements. An approved export certificate is provided to the appropriate border agency of the destination country – in either electronic or paper form – to help clear your product into that country.
Certification is almost exclusively done for products exported for commercial purposes. However, certain countries require an export certificate for product destined for personal consumption (e.g., fish caught while sport fishing in Canada). For more information on this please see the food specific requirements.
Types of Export Certificates
Health or Sanitary Certificates (negotiated)
Health or sanitary certificates are government to government certificates that include information about the product, its health status and the consignor.
The information on an export certificate varies, depending on the product or commodity and the destination country, but it may include:
- the country of origin of the product and its ingredients;
- treatment or other processes the product has undergone, prior to export;
- the microbiological status of the product; and/or,
- the product's health status – for example, whether or not a certain animal or plant disease is present in Canada.
Inspection Certificates (Canadian)
Inspection certificates are developed by Canada to attest that the product complies with Canadian standards (e.g., certificate of origin and hygiene, grades, standard certificate for meat products). Consignments for countries or products with no known requirements may be issued inspection certificates, but these consignments are at commercial risk. The importer in the destination country can tell you if an inspection certificate is required.
Note: Commercial risk means acceptance by the exporter that the CFIA certificate is given in good faith based on the exporter's written assurances that all due enquiries have been made and that there is no known impediment to entry of the product into the country concerned. These products must meet all Canadian requirements.
Certificates of free sale
A certificate of free sale attests that the product is able to be freely sold in Canada. The importer in the destination country is able to tell you if a certificate of free sale is required.
You should be familiar with the standards and requirements for your product. The CFIA supports industry by publishing known and negotiated requirements in the export library.
Reporting Export Requirements to CFIA
If you find that there are new or changed export requirements for any countries, you should inform your local inspection office so that the CFIA can verify the requirements and how Canadian industry is able to meet them and enter negotiations if needed.
Applying for Certificates Online (e-Cert)
Many export certificates are processed through the CFIA's electronic certification; you can access this system through My CFIA. Exporters, verifiers, CFIA staff and others in the export chain use this online system to ensure that products are eligible for certification and to issue certificates.
When you apply for certificates electronically, the system will identify if you are eligible for certificates for certain products and countries, and what notification of shipments, inspections, fees and additional supporting documents are required.
Fees and charges can apply for requesting export certificates and any related inspection activities.
If you do not wish to apply online, please contact your local inspection office for assistance.
In addition, some certificates are still issued through paper-based systems. If you cannot find the certificate for a product and country requirement in e-Cert, please contact your local inspection office.
Applying for Replacement Certificates
The CFIA may issue a replacement certificate for food exports, depending on the circumstances. Most commonly, administrative errors, a change of consignee, or a lost or damaged certificate are the reasons replacement certificates are requested.
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