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How to import food to the United States?

How to import food to the United States?

Table of content

The importation of food into the United States can raise various questions due to diverse circumstances or lack of familiarity with the different regulations and customs requirements established by competent authorities, such as the FDA. In the following lines, we will share with you the essential requirements that will guide you to successfully import food into the United States.

The food or foods you choose to import into the North American market must meet all the necessary requirements as if they were purely products of this country. The entity responsible for inspecting every detail and enforcing established regulations is the FDA.

What is the FDA and why is it important for importing food into the United States?

The FDA is the Food and Drug Administration, a agency of the United States Department of Health and Human Services responsible for regulating all aspects of health and elements related to food, drugs, cosmetics, medical devices, and products to ensure consumer safety. Therefore, it is a fundamental entity for successfully importing your food into the United States.

Who needs to register with the FDA?

Anyone who handles any element within the production process, whether it's the manufacturer, processor, packer, or food storage facility, in addition to importers. Importers do not require this registration unless they fulfill any of the roles mentioned above.

regulations to register your food companie in USA

Food, beverage, and dietary supplement facilities:

Must register before shipping to the US and renew between October 1st and December 31st each year.Medical device

companies and pharmaceutical facilities:

Must report on the medications in commercial distribution in the US. They must renew annually between October 1st and December 31st.

Cosmetics manufacturers and processors:

Must register with the FDA before sending products to the US. They must renew between October 1st and December 31st each year.

What is the USDA?

The USDA is the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). It is the department responsible for ensuring that agricultural foods sold within the United States are healthy, safe, and that proper post-market surveillance is implemented. It also reviews labels on meat products, processed eggs, dairy products, fruits, vegetables, and foods containing less than or equal to 2% cooked meats/poultry or less than 3% raw meats/poultry.

This department not only regulates and supervises agricultural foods but also develops programs, conducts research, promotes nutrition-related initiatives, natural resource conservation, and more.Who should perform this registration?

Any individual who wishes to export or import agricultural products must comply with food regulations and standards.

When should I renew my USDA registration?

The renewal period varies depending on the type of registration and the activity for which it was done. The renewal dates are usually provided in the documentation you receive, or if you still have doubts, you can contact the USDA directly either through online inquiry or by phone.

It's important to mention that non-compliance with registration or renewal with the FDA or the USDA can have legal consequences or affect your company's operations. Your merchandise may be detained, returned, or even destroyed.

What is the Bond?

The "bond" in the context of imports refers to the "import bond" or "customs bond." It is a financial guarantee required to import merchandise into the United States (in this case, to import your food). The requirement to have this bond in place serves several purposes, including:

Customs compliance: It ensures that importers comply with customs laws and regulations to enter the country. Additionally, it guarantees that taxes, duties, and other fees are paid.

Government protection: It serves as a form of protection when the importer fails to comply with established regulations.

Importer's financial responsibility: When the importer pays their import bond, they take responsibility for their operations, promoting transparency and accountability in the process.

Trade facilitation: Compliance with this requirement helps facilitate the entry of merchandise into the country because it financially guarantees the cargo. This, in turn, allows the government to release shipments more quickly and expedite customs clearance.

Find more information with our guide: The importance of international trade in the United States.

There are different types of bonds such as the Entry Bond, which applies to specific shipments, or the Continuous Bond for frequent importers. The choice varies depending on factors such as the volume of importation and the frequency of operations.

When you're ready to ship your merchandise, it's essential to have the POA, which stands for "Power of Attorney." This legal document allows a person or entity to act on your behalf in matters related to importation. In this process, we grant power to our customs broker to represent us as the importer before customs authorities in the United States. This involves various tasks, such as filing customs documents, paying duties and fees, and communicating with customs authorities. After this, you'll be ready to proceed with the entire customs process.

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Importing food into the United States is not a difficult topic and shouldn't be a complicated task. In fact, it is entirely achievable and straightforward when you have the support of experts willing to guide you every step of the way, ensuring that you meet all requirements and documents so that your shipments arrive safely. With the right guidance, you can avoid unnecessary risks, such as loss of your merchandise, return, or destruction.

Remember that government entities are also allies for you in this process. Obtain all the information you need about your product and discover the best way to enter the US market. Importing your food will become an opportunity to successfully expand your company. Prodezk is here to help and advise you every step of the way towards internationalization!

Aura María Ocampo
SEO Content Specialist

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