How to Import Food Products into India

The Government of India has enacted a number of laws and acts to regulate food products imported into the country and to ensure that Indian consumers consume wholesome and safe food. Many agencies and departments collaborate with the government on this project. The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India, or FSSAI, is one of the major agencies responsible for establishing a variety of standards to ensure the quality, regulations, and control measures of imported food products.

What happens if the imported foods do not meet FSSAI standards?

If imported foods do not meet FSSAI’s strict regulations and standards, or if the prescribed procedures are not followed when importing these products into the country, the entire consignment may be rejected and returned. It is not allowed to be traded in the country in any way. As a result, any company planning to import food products from other countries must become knowledgeable and well-versed in the various FSSAI regulations and procedures. Here, we will give you an idea of the registration and licenses that are required before importing food products.

Suggested read- fssai registration online in India

Licenses are required before importing food products.

It is necessary to have certain licenses if you intend to import food products. Here are the specifics.

Vat Registration– It is critical to obtain Vat Registration from the relevant authority in charge of product sales in the country.

Business Form (LLP or Company)- Although not required, it is recommended to have a credible business form with limited liability.

Product Approval- This is required if the imported product is not standardized.

Importer Exporter Code (IE)- This code is required and is issued by the Director-General of Foreign Trade.

Formalities for Customs Clearance

There are numerous formalities that the importer must fulfill and comply with in relation to the food import clearance system and FSSAI customs clearance. These procedures can be carried out with or without the help of a Customs Handling Agent.

Consignment Clearance Stages After Arrival

After an imported food consignment arrives in India, various consignment clearance stages begin before the product reaches the domestic market. We provide information about various stages in this section.

  • Customs Clearance Application to be submitted to Customs Department for No Objection Certificate or Provisional NOC Application to be submitted to FSSAI’s FICS or Food Import Clearance System.
  • Documents Examination by the Authorized Officer of the FSSAI
  • The consignment is visually inspected, and samples are collected by an FSSAI-authorized officer.
  • Laboratory Examination of Samples
  • FICS or FSSAI’s Food Import Clearance System issues a provisional NOC or No Objection Certificate.
  • Customs Clearance of the Consignment.

Also read- fssai food license

Different stages of custom clearance

  1. Following the arrival of the consignment in the country, the CHA or the importer submits an application to the relevant authorities to have the consignment cleared. The Department of Customs receives the application, and the necessary documents pertaining to the consignment are filed with the Department of Customs. This results in the creation of a Bill of Entry and the receipt of an examination order for the relevant consignment. This examination order is generated by Customs’ EDI system, or Electronic Data Interchange system, and requires a No Objection Order from FSSAI.
  1. After the Bill of Entry is generated and the examination order is received, the CHA or Importer applies to FSSAI’s FICS or Food Import Clearance System for a Provisional NOC or NC. The supporting documents required for the purpose are an IE Code issued by DGFT, a Bill of Entry, an FSSAI License, an EDI System generated Examination Order, a Product Approval, an Import Permit issued by the Indian Government’s Ministry of Agriculture (horticultural and agricultural produce), a Sanitary Import Permit (livestock products) issued by the Animal Husbandry Department, and a Product Approval.
  1. All of these documents are meticulously examined by the FSSAI’s Authorized Officer. Each and every document presented to them by the importer is verified. If there is any doubt, the officer may seek clarification from the importer. After thorough examination and verification, if all documents are found to be in order, the authorized FSSAI Officer issues a demand for the fee based on the number of samples submitted for clearance.
  1. The consignment is subjected to a thorough visual inspection and sampling by an authorized officer of the FSSAI. This stage occurs after the CHA or importer has made a fee deposit. The importer has informed the importer of the date and time of the inspection, which must be acknowledged by the importer. The authorized officer draws two samples in the presence of the importer. It is then sealed and labeled before being sent to laboratories for further examination.
  1. FICS, or the Food Import Clearance System of the FSSAI, issues a provisional NOC or a No Objection Certificate as part of the next stage. This Certificate is issued based on a laboratory report that concludes the non-conformance or conformance of parameters and standards as prescribed by the FSSAI Act 2006. A Non-Conformance Certificate or a No Objection Certificate is issued as a result of this report.

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