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How To Import Food And Beverage Items Into The US

Your how-to guide on grocery imports into the US

If you are importing crackers, chips, granola bars, bread, canned goods and vegetables, frozen meals, condiments, pasta, candy, non-alcoholic beverages, tea, coffee, soft drinks, juice, plant based milks and other processed foods into the US, you must know what government parties are involved, what regulations must be followed, and the fundamental aspects of grocery imports.

Parties Involved:

  • Customs and Border Protection (CBP)
  • Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
  • US Department of Agriculture (USDA) (Frozen Fruits and Vegetables)
  • Food Safety Inspection Services (FSIS) (Processed foods for human consumption containing meat such as pork, beef, chicken etc.)
  • Customs Broker
  • Carrier

Main Regulations:

  • Ensure the manufacturer of the food is registered with the FDA.
  • Imports of food products entered into the commerce of the US for consumption require the name, contact email, and duns number of the Foreign Supplier Verification Party (FSVP).
  • Some processed foods such as pasta from Italy are subject to Antidumping and/or Countervailing Duties and require special bond approval prior to clearance.
  • Low Acid Canned Foods (LACF) require the company canning the goods to have a Federal Canning Establishment (FCE) number as well as a Scheduler Identifier (SID).
  • Frozen Fruits and Vegetables imported from countries other than Canada require a USDA Import Permit for entry.
  • Processed foods containing meat products such as pork dumplings or chili with meat and frozen dinners require a Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) clearance.

Import Fundamentals:

  • You will be acting as the Importer of Record. Therefore, you are the party ultimately responsible for the accuracy and completeness of the import declaration, as well as the payment of applicable duties and taxes into the US.
  • Duty and tax must be paid upon importation into the US.
  • The rate of duty is determined by the tariff of the commodity being imported, value of the goods, and origin of the goods.
  • Certain import documentation is required to be presented to the border services officer at the port of entry.
  • Your import may be subject to a customs review, inspection or audit prior to, at the time of, or after the importation. Additional fees may be levied by the Government of the US for these services.
  • You are required to keep your import records for five years following the date of import and can be audited by Customs at any point during this time.

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