Declare SFC license # on food import declaration

SFC import license must be properly declared. The following guidance is adapted from CFIA guidelines:

When you import any food products or items into Canada, they must pass through the border and we know how important it is to ensure that we can get them through the border as soon as possible without any delay. This article focuses on best practices and tips to get your food products through the border, as soon as possible.

#1: Have your SFC license

You must have a valid SFC license to import food products into Canada (unless your products are exempted). See CBSA Custom Notice here. It is important that you have your SFC license to prevent delays or refusal at the border. To add, you also cannot apply for the SFC license at the border.

To check if your SFC license is valid, you can enter your business information here. Your  SFC license scope should indicate both the activities “Importing Foods” and the relevant product commodities. The online database only provides information regarding the validity and does not indicate the license scope.

We recommend that you compile your product and supplier information to develop the Preventative Control Plan for the applications of the SFC license. This must be done before the SFC license applications. CFIA may request to review your Preventative Control Plan before approving the SFC license. We recommend giving yourself, as much time, as possible with this as we find that most of our clients are tied up in the document gathering process.

We have prepared a quick video on the documents that you will need to prepare for your Preventative Control Plan. Without these documents, there is a limited amount of any food safety consultant can do to prepare for your Preventative Control Plan.

With complete documentation, you can expect a 1-2 weeks lead time for the development process.

#2: Maintaining your SFC license validity

Please note SFC license is specific to food commodities. Thus, it is so important to ensure that you update the SFC license (and the relevant elements of the SFCR requirements). You can amend them through my CFIA portal as well.

Having an SFC license alone is not sufficient! You must ensure that you have and implement the following:

  • Preventative Control Plan
  • Customer Protection Plan
  • Traceability Plan

You must be able to provide evidence for activities listed in the above procedures when requested. For example, you must keep your receiving and shipping records, and prove how you review the food labels for compliance with SFCR requirements.  Check our blog on Complying with SFCR: How to Get an SFC license?

#3: Declare SFC license  on food import declaration

You must enter the SFC license number on the Registration number field of the import declaration exactly as was issued by the CFIA. Note that the SFC license number is alphanumeric consists of a combination of 8 numbers and letters.

If you have multiple SFC licenses, always be sure that you enter the correct license number to prevent delays at the border. If you work with a customs broker, you can provide the SFC license number ahead, so that they can assist you to enter the information correctly.

Expedite your SFC Preventative Control Development

SFPM Consulting can help build, develop and guide you through maintaining the SFC Preventative Control Plan requirements.  The SFC license can be applied through my CFIA following a simple series of instructions listed here. Note that we do not provide the SFC license application service because we would like you to be fully aware of the requirements of the SFC license applications.


You must be careful when providing your business access to anyone who claims that they can help you apply for the license as you may not have been aware of the declaration that they (on your behalf) make on your license application.

Book a meeting with us today, so we can help expedite your SFC license preparations and guide you to meet and maintain the SFCR requirements.

References :

What to Consider before Applying for a Safe Food for Canadian Regulation license. Retrieved from

Food Import Notices for Industry. Retrieved from

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