Fact Sheet: Licensing of Food Businesses
Safe Food for Canadians Regulations


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.

Under the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations (SFCR), food businesses will need a licence based on the activities they conduct. Food businesses that conduct any of the following activities are required to obtain a licence:

  • Import food
  • Manufacture, process, treat, preserve, grade, package, or label food to be exported or sent across provincial or territorial borders
  • Export food that requires an export certificate – even if not preparing the food
  • Slaughter food animals from which meat products are derived for export or to be sent across provincial or territorial borders
  • Store and handle a meat product in its imported condition for inspection by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA).

Find out if and when you need a licence by using our licensing interactive tool. It only takes 5 minutes.

How will it work?

A business may choose to apply for one licence that covers all of its establishments, activities and types of food, or multiple licences that would cover unique combinations of establishments, activities and types of food.

To apply for a licence, a business must submit an application to the CFIA providing:

  • activities for which a licence is being sought
  • location(s) of establishment(s) where the activities will be conducted
  • types of foods for which a licence is being sought

If a business currently holds a registration or licence issued under the Canada Agricultural Products Act, the Fish Inspection Act or the Meat Inspection Act:

  • it will remain valid until it expires, even once the Safe Food for Canadians Act (SFCA) comes into force, as long as
  • there is a statement on it that it is also a licence issued under the SFCA.

Once expired, food businesses will need to apply for a licence under the SFCR.

Sign up for My CFIA today to access a growing number of online services including, licences, export certificates, as well as electronic payment options.

Why it matters

Currently, not all food businesses require a licence. Licensing will help the CFIA to:

  • better identify food safety risks in order to target inspections
  • communicate important food safety information directly to food businesses
  • take enforcement actions, ranging from requiring corrective measures to suspending or cancelling a licence, when regulatory requirements are not met

Learn more at www.inspection.gc.ca/safefood.

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