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The New Safe Food for Canadians Regs

On January 15, 2019 new regulations governing the import of fruits and vegetables into Canada went into effect as part of the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations (SFCR). Companies shipping into Canada from the United States may apply for status as non-resident importers (NRIs).

In many transactions, the Canadian buyer is the importer of record and the shipper does not have this responsibility. However, there has been a rise in transactions where the buyer requires the seller to assume responsibility for clearing the product across the border as a condition of the sale.

This designation allows importers to act as the “importer of record” for shipments going to Canada. No matter the circumstance, it is important to understand the new SFCR process and its impact on NRIs currently shipping to Canada.

What does SFCR mean from a DRC perspective?

The Canadian Food inspection Agency (CFIA) defines a non-resident importer as an entity shipping food into Canada whose fixed place of business is in a country other than Canada. Since January 15, for shippers to qualify as an NRI for fresh fruits and vegetables, CFIA is applying four main conditions:

1. CFIA Food Safety Licence – those wishing to use NRI status to import product into Canada must obtain a CFIA Food Safety license; to do so, shippers must set up a myCFIA account and complete the application.
2. Food Safety Equivalence – to be eligible to obtain a Canadian Food Safety licence as an NRI, the fixed place of business must be in a country recognized by CFIA as having an equivalent food safety system. So far, only the United States is recognized. As more food safety systems are evaluated, more countries may be added in the future.
3. Port of Entry – product must enter Canada directly through the recognized country (the United States, in this case). In other words, the product must land and clear U.S. customs before it can move into Canada. A shipper cannot be a U.S. NRI and ship the product from another country straight into Canada.
4. DRC Membership – in addition to a Canadian Food Safety license, NRIs must also have a DRC membership. It is important to note that a SFCR license and DRC membership do not have the same intent: the SFCR license identifies and authorizes businesses to carry out licensable activities such as food safety and non-resident importing. A DRC membership facilitates trade and commerce by requiring fair and ethical trading practices, minimizing trade irritants and facilitating effective trade dispute resolution.

For businesses interested in exporting to Canada as an NRI, a first step should be visiting the Canadian Revenue Agency’s website to get a Canadian business number.

For additional help or to explore other trading scenarios, please call (613) 234-0982 or email DRC at


Fred Webber is President and CEO of Fruit & Vegetable Dispute Resolution Corporation