Just because you can buy it, does not mean you can import it. Many Canadians like to take advantage of the low-cost dairy products available in the United States, whether that be for personal or commercial use. But did you know that dairy products such as cheese are a regulated commodity? While yes, you may import into Canada, it comes with restrictions.
Personal import limits on dairy products:
For personal use the limits on dairy products e.g. cheese, milk, yogurt and butter are as follows:
- Up to 20 kilograms per person with a maximum value of CAD$20
Note: Cheese packed in whey must meet further requirements before importation.
Requirements for importing cheese into Canada for commercial use:
If you are planning on driving south of the border to pick up cheese for your business, stop! There are certain requirements that must be met in order to be able to import cheese for commercial use.
1. CFIA Cheese Import Licence
To start, a commercial importer must hold a valid CFIA cheese import licence issued by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. Here is an application form that must be completed » Application for a Cheese Import Licence (CFIA/ACIA 5562)
For more info regarding applying for a cheese import license, contact the CFIA’s Centre of Administration.
2. General Import Permit
Cheese is on the import control list and the Export and Import Permits Act (EIPA) . The Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development requires an import permit for all types of cheese imports including fresh, grated, powdered and processed. This is in addition to obtaining a cheese import license.
Failure to obtain a General Import Permit:
If a General Import Permit is not obtained, cheese may still be imported by obtaining a Single Import Permit, but your imports would be subject to a tariff rate of over 200%.
Further information on permits prior to importing can be reviewed at the link below:
- Cheese products can only be accepted if they are produced in a country that does not pose animal health concerns to Canada.
- Minimum grade or standard
- Correct labelling – Consumer-sized products (pre-packaged) must be labelled with the information required to be shown under the Consumer Packaging and Labelling Regulations and Dairy Products Regulations.
- An Import Declaration form in duplicate, is completed by the importer or his representative, must accompany the load. This form must contain the following information: name of the exporter; name of the consignee; in the case of cheese, the importer’s cheese import licence number, a description of the dairy product and any identification marks; the number, kind, and net weight of containers; and a statement that the dairy product was manufactured from sound raw materials, was prepared under sanitary conditions, and was, at the time of shipment, sound and fit for human consumption. The statement must also accurately identify the manufacturer or authorized agent.
- Health and safety requirements prescribed in the Food and Drugs Act and Regulations and the Dairy Products Regulations.
Consequences for not meeting import requirements:
Arriving at the destined port of crossing and failing to meet the above requirements, may result in the seizure, or destruction of the goods, or CBSA may order the goods back to the United States until the proper requirements have been met.
Additionally, at any time, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency may randomly inspect any food product to ensure that minimum requirements (composition, labelling, standard containers and health standards) are met. Non-compliant product will be detained until it meets regulatory requirements, or, if imported, it may be ordered out of the country or destroyed. Failure to declare restricted items such as cheese may result in penalties, permanent seizure of goods and in some case criminal prosecution.
How Pacific Customs Brokers can help?
Pacific Customs Brokers’ over 50 years of experience with dairy imports coupled with our 24/7 customs brokerage service at all commercial ports of entry will serve your company well when importing dairy items. We can not only assist in the release your shipment but also help you determine the duty rates and import permit requirements as well as apply for the required permits, should you need one. For more information on how we can help you commercially import dairy products into Canada, please contact us.
What has been your experience at the border with cross-border shopping? Have questions about importing cheese into Canada? Leave them in our comments section below or email Ask Your Broker.