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How to ship food and beverages to Canada

For US food and beverage brands, breaking into the Canadian market is a natural next step.  Canada is our largest trading partner, has about the same population as California (38M) and 90% of Canadian consumers live within 100 miles of the US border.

However, reaching those customers can seem daunting.  When you look at the regulatory requirements to ship food and beverages to Canada, most guidance advises you to:

  • Register your company in Canada and obtain a Business Number from the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).

  • Register your company with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA)

  • Obtain a Safe Food for Canadians Regulation (SFCR) import permit and provide this number on import documents

  • Check CFIA's Automated Import Reference System (AIRS) to see if additional import licenses, permits, or documents are required for your specific products

  • Label your products in both English and French

  • Adhere to import quotas and restrictions

Couple that with the recent announcement that the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) will step up food licensing requirements for certain commodities and it's enough to discourage anyone.  But, most companies don't realize that those regulations were written for B2B manufacturers. That's where direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands have an advantage.  Unless your products are going to be warehoused or resold in Canada, the requirements are quite simple.

The Safe Food for Canadians Regulations exempt most food that is imported for personal use from the B2B licensing and regulatory requirements.  So long as your shipments are under the "Maximum Quantity Limits for Personal Use" threshold (typically 20 kilograms or 20 liters of any given product), you will be able to ship directly to consumers in Canada who order from you online.

Of course, there are some food and beverage products that are more regulated.  That's where Passport can help.  We can map your products to the proper regulations to reduce the chances that your shipments are held at the border.  If specific products are restricted or regulated, we can help you obtain the proper import documents.  As your carrier, Passport makes sure that all international shipping documents are complete and accurate.  Customs holds are rare, but when they do happen, Passport handles this for you, working with Canada Customs to resolve any issues and ensure your shipments are quickly released.

Reach out to us at sales@passportshipping.com if you have any questions or would like to start shipping to Canada or fill out the contact form here!

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