Importing Cheese into Canada is not a Slice

Cheese on cutting board


Did you know dairy products such as cheese, milk, yogurt and butter are a regulated commodity? Canadian residents will often import cheese for their personal use or for their business. You may import dairy products into Canada, however it can come with restrictions and even substantial tariffs. Just because you can buy it, does not mean you can import it.


What are your dairy restrictions for personal use?

  1. 20kg per person
  2. Maximum $20 CAD


What do you need to do to import cheese for commercial use?

If you are planning on purchasing cheese outside of Canada for your business, stop! You have certain requirements you must meet to be able to import cheese for your business.


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 (CFIA). The application form you must fill out before importing can be found here » Application for a Cheese Import Licence (CFIA/ACIA 5562).

If you would like more info about applying for a cheese import license, you can contact the CFIA’s Centre of Administration.


2. Tariff Rate Quota 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. Keep in mind, this is in addition to obtaining a cheese import license. With a Tariff Rate Quotas (TRQ) Permit you can receive reduced duty rates for importing cheese.


What if I don’t obtain an Import Permit under Tariff Rate Quotas?

If you do not obtain an Import Permit you may still import cheese into Canada, however you must include a General Import Permit and your tariff rate on the import will be over 200%. If you would like more information on Import Controls and Import Permits follow the link.


What else do you need to know?


The Import Declaration

  1. An Import Declaration form, completed by you or a representative, must accompany the load. Your form must include;
    1. The name of the exporter
    2. The name of the consignee
    3. The importer’s cheese import licence number
    4. A description of the dairy product and any identification marks;
    5. The number, kind, and net weight of the containers;
    6. And a statement the dairy product is manufactured from sound raw materials, under sanitary conditions, and is fit for human consumption. It is also important to know, the statement must accurately identify the manufacturer or authorized agent.
  2. Health and safety requirements prescribed in the Food and Drugs Act and Regulations and the Dairy Products Regulations.
  3. Cheese from the EU requires an Agrex certificate.
Note: Cheese packed in whey must meet further requirements before importation.


What if my goods do not meet the requirements?

If you arrive at the border and fail to meet the above requirements, your goods may seized, destroyed, or sent back to the originating country. However, once you fulfill all of the requirements you will be able to import the goods into Canada.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency can inspect your food imports to make sure you meet the minimum requirements. If your food meets the requirements you will be good to enter. When your product is not up to standard it will be detained until it meets regulations. If the product enters into the country and is found to not meet the necessary requirements, the product is returned to customs or destroyed in the country.

Failing to declare restricted items may result in penalties, permanent seizure of the goods, and in some cases, criminal prosecution. The importer is responsible for all fees and penalties associated with non-compliance.


It’s all gouda, but it could brie better with Pacific Customs Brokers. Contact us for any of your dairy import needs. I know it’s cheesy, but you’ll be in grate hands.




2 Responses to “Importing Cheese into Canada is not a Slice”

  1. Mark ROBERTS says:

    We would like to import some shelf stable processed cheese into Canada. I would like to avoid the 200% duties. Is this possible?

  2. I am in the process of negotiating to import from USA to Canada cheese dairy products (Mini Cheese stick wrapped in dough or similar to cheese fingers) for commercial purposes (re sale). I was wondering if your company can help me on this matter and what are the approximate cost involved.

    Thanks in advance,

    Fernando Guerrero

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