General Export Requirements

Disclaimer

On January 15, 2019, the Safe Food for Canadians Act (SFCA) and the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations (SFCR) will come into effect.

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.

Food exports, including their preparation and packaging, are subject to Canadian acts and regulations. Exporters must meet the following basic requirements to be eligible to export products from Canada:

Please make note of export exemptions, and food taken abroad for personal use or consumption or as trade show samples.

Besides meeting Canadian standards, most food and food-related products exported from Canada must comply with additional requirements set by destination countries or markets. The particular requirements you need to comply with differ depending on the product you export and the destination country. Exporters are also responsible for knowing about the requirements related to animal health and plant protection. The known requirements for various countries are located in the Export Library.

Legislation

Licensing and registration

To find out how you apply for a licence or registration, please see the food program webpages relating to your food (i.e. dairy, meat, fish). Parties exporting food under the Food and Drugs Act and Regulations are currently not being licenced or registered by the CFIA.

Food safety preventive control plan (PCP)

To find out more on the preventive controls relevant to the processing and exporting activities related to your food, please see the commodity specific regulatory requirements at this time. Examples of preventive control plans under existing food programs include Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) plan, Quality Management Program (QMP), Food Safety Enhancement Program (FSEP), Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP), etc.

As part of your preventive control plan, or in addition to it, you need to have controls in place for the export documents and information relating to your shipments.

Canadian requirements

A basic requirement is that food is prepared under sanitary conditions according to Canadian regulations. A food product prepared for export could be exempt from non-food safety related Canadian requirements. This situation may require an exemption or permit from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA). Please contact your local CFIA Inspection Office.

It is not acceptable to export products that do not meet Canadian regulations if there are no regulatory requirements in the destination country. The CFIA has a responsibility to protect consumers of Canadian foods by verifying that products are safe and are not fraudulent.

Fees

Familiarize yourself with any CFIA fees you may be required to pay as per the Canadian Food Inspection Agency Fees Notice.

Exemptions

Exporters who only export food (other than meat and fish products) to countries that do not require certification may not be required to be licensed or registered. They would still have to meet the food safety requirements of the commodity specific regulations and the Food and Drugs Act and Regulations.

Travellers Going Abroad

If you are travelling overseas and carry food products intended for later personal use or consumption, you are not considered an exporter and do not need to be licensed. But the food you carry is still subject to the import requirements of the foreign country.

Taking Trade Samples Overseas

You may need to meet export requirements if you take trade or research samples to other countries. These are normally defined in the foreign country requirements for the countries or markets the samples are intended for.

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