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:

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.

FAQ: Grocery Imports

How Do I Register With The FDA?

We can assist you in registering and maintaining your FDA registration. Once registered you will receive an FDA registration number, which will need to be indicated on your US customs invoices so that we can report the number with our entry data.

Who Can Act As The Foreign Supplier Verification Party For My Shipment?

Any company in the US can act as your FSVP. They do not have to be related to the import transaction; however, caution is to be used as there are responsibilities that go along with acting as an FSVP agent and consequences when regulations are not followed.
There are companies that specialize in acting as FSVP agents on behalf of foreign companies and it is recommended that you partner with one of these companies to ensure that you are in compliance with the rules and regulations as outlined in our FSVP blog.

What Are Anti-Dumping And Countervailing Duties?

Anti-dumping and Countervailing Duties are in addition to ordinary duties on certain commodity / country of origin combinations. Anti-dumping duties are assessed on goods that have been found to be dumped on the US market at less than fair market value, which make it impossible for our domestic industry to compete. Countervailing duties are assessed to commodities, where the foreign government in which the goods are manufactured offers the company a subsidy allowing the manufacturer to produce the goods at a lower cost so that they can offer them for sale at a lower price. A subsidy could be in the form of interest-free loans, tax breaks or other advantages.

What Is The Federal Canning Establishment (FCE) Number?

Complete FDA form 2541, specific to the type of canned food you are importing. Once completed the form is submitted to the US FDA for approval. FDA does provide an electronic filing option for this process.

To learn more and file your FCE and SID information click here.
What Is A Canning Schedule Process Identifier (SID)?

The Schedule Process Identifier or SID is the food processing and safety plan associated with the specific goods you are importing. This information must be on file with the FDA and is a reporting requirement to be transmitted with the entry information. Part of the SID is the type and size of the container the goods are canned in.

To learn more and file your FCE and SID information click here.
How Do I Get An Import Permit To Import Frozen Fruits And/Or Vegetables?

If you are located in the US you can apply for a permit through the e-permits portal on USDA’s website. However, if you are a foreign company you will need to have an agent in the US act as your agent to file for your import permit.

Click here to access the USDA e-permits portal.
What Are Food Safety Inspection Services (FSIS) Regulations And How Do I Comply?

FSIS regulates and inspects imports of meat products for human consumption. Manufacturers of meat containing products must be approved for import into the US for the specific meat product they produce and are importing. We can assist you in determining if your meat product, and producer are allowed to import into the US. You will need to complete an FSIS application for inspection, along with any other certifications required for the specific type of meat product being shipped.

Click here for access to the Application for Inspection.

Trade is tricky.
The Trading Post is not.

Sign up to receive easy-to-understand updates, events, and guides on international trade.