General Export Requirements
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:
- Valid licence or registration (as applicable)
- Food has been prepared under a food safety preventive control plan (PCP)
- Food meets Canadian requirements for:
- food safety
- grades and standards
- packaging and containers
- Fees paid for inspection and certification for the purpose of export
Besides meeting Canadian standards, most food and food-related products exported from Canada have to 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. The known requirements for various countries are located in the Export Library.
- Canada Agricultural Products Act
- Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act (as it relates to food)
- Fish Inspection Act
- Food and Drugs Act (as it relates to food)
- Meat Inspection Act
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.
A basic requirement is that all foods meet Canadian regulations. Only if a food is being prepared for export can the food not meet 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 all consumers of Canadian foods, including those in countries without established food regulations.
Familiarize yourself with any CFIA fees you may be required to pay as per the Canadian Food Inspection Agency Fees Notice.
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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