The import of all the edible products in India is controlled by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI). The FSSAI has distributed different controls and warnings, which are to be taken into consideration while bringing in food items. On the off chance that the sustenance items are not according to FSSAI directions, the consignment will be dismissed and won’t be permitted into India. All the entrepreneurs, as well as the businesses that import sustenance items into India, must know about the FSSAI methodology and controls identifying with the import of the food products.

Important Agencies involved in the import of Food Products :

  • Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), is an independent body established under the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, following the Food Safety and Standards Act 2006. This Act is liable for forming the standards of products and the labeling legislation. It samples and controls each consignment arriving in India. If the food products are not as per FSSAI- regulations, the consignment will be denied and will not be allowed into India. Flemish businesses exporting food products to India must be aware of the FSSAI procedures and regulations relating to food product import.
  • Ministry of Agriculture, Department for Plant Quarantine Organization: this department issues the Plant Quarantine Order. The Department is also liable for the issuance of the import permits.
  •  Ministry of Agriculture, Department of Animal Husbandry and Dairying & Fisheries department is liable for issuing the requirements for the certificates pre-requisite for import
  • Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution, Department of Consumer Affairs the Department is liable for legal metrology. The Department represents the content of the labeling, but for food and beverages, FSSAI-regulations replace this legislation. The legal metrology is only succeeding FSSAI for MRP (maximum retail price), consumer care articles and net weight.

Licenses & Registration to import Food Products in India

It is important to obtain these licenses or registrations prior to importing any food consignment to India.

The mentioned below licenses and registration are required for importing Food products in India :

  • Private Limited Company or LLP (Optional, however, it is recommended as it improves the transferability of business and limits personal liability).
  •  VAT Registration (Required for selling goods or products in India).
  • Importer Exporter Code from DGFT (Required for importing or exporting goods)
  • Product Approval from FSSAI (if the product proposed to be imported is non-standardized therefore, it is not in conformity with the food standards prescribed under the FSS Act and regulations thereunder).

Requirements to be a registered food importer-

  1. The business needs to be registered as a proprietorship, partnership, private limited company or a public limited company.
  2. Value Added Tax Registration with linked authority for domestic sale.
  3. Importer Exporter Code (IE Code) circulated by the Director-General of Foreign Trade.
  4. Product approval if the food product to be imported comes under a non-standardized product category.
  5. FSSAI has an automated Food Imports Clearance System (FICS). An importer may register the required compliances under FICS or for customs clearance on his own or he may hire a Custom Handling Agent (CHA) for the same.

Stages before the import of Food products-

The consignment must pass different stages for clearance and meet the domestic market :

  • Custom Department should clear Application for Custom Clearance.
  • Application of NOC (No Objection Certificate) or Provisional NOC to Food Import clearance system (FICS) of FSSAI.
  • Scrutiny of documents by an Authorised Officer of FSSAI or NOC.
  • Visual inspection of the consignment and sampling thereof by the Authorised Officer of FSSAI.
  • Laboratory analysis of samples collected.
  • Issuance of NOC or Provisional NOC by Food Import clearance system (FICS) of FSSAI.
  • Finally, Custom clearance of the consignment.

Steps to Import Edible Products in India 

Related: FSSAI Rules For Food License

Given below are the steps that are to be followed while importing the Food products in India:

Step 1: Custom Clearance 

custom

Prior to the arrival of the food consignment through air or seaport in India, the importing food business operator must prepare an Authority Letter in favor of a Customs Handling Agent (CHA), addressing the FSSAI/ Authorised officer. However, while the arrival of consignment, the CHA based on the authorization letter will file an application for clearance of consignment with the Department of Customs established on the Bill of Entry. Post this, a Government Customs Agent will verify the consignment and clear the same after clearance of customs formalities and payment of customs duty.

Step 2: Applying FSSAI Clearance

FSSAI clearance

However, after obtaining the Customs Department clearance, the CHA should file an application in the Food Import Clearance System (FICS) of FSSAI for obtaining the ‘No Objection Certificate’.

The documents required to be uploaded to the FSSAI portal for FSSAI clearance are:

Mandatory Documents:

  1. Importer Exporter Code issued from the DGFT
  2. FSSAI-Food Business License
  3.  Bill of Entry
  4. Examination Order generated by the EDI system of Customs, therein requiring NOC from the FSSAI

Optional Documents depending upon the type of Product being Imported:

  1. Import Permit issued by the Ministry of Agriculture, Government of India in case of primary agriculture produce/ horticultural produce;
  2. Sanitary Import Permit issued by the Department of Animal Husbandry, Government of India in case of livestock products;
  3. Registration of import contracts for poppy seeds with Central Bureau of Narcotics, Gwalior;
  4. Certificate of Origin issued by Authorised Person/ Agency at the place of manufacturing/ processing etc. of the food consignment. Certificate of Origin shall contain information on Country of Origin etc. Hence if the consignor is from a different country;
  5. Phyto-Sanitary Certificate issued by the Plant Quarantine Department of Exporting Country in case of primary agriculture/ horticulture produce with fumigation endorsement;
  6. Certificate of Analysis with composition (Ingredients). In the case of Wine & Whiskey – Test Certificate;
  7. End-use declaration – The Food Importer has to clearly declare the end use of the imported food product;
  8. Pumping Guarantee Certificate in case of edible oil imported in bulk;
  9. List of transit country, if the food consignment is trans-shipped through more than one country;
  10. Temperature Chart / Report / Graph, if the food consignment trans-shipped under the Cold Chain Technologies (CCT) from the port of origin to the point of import;
  11. Stuffing list, Packing List;
  12. Commercial invoice as mentioned in the Bill of Entry (BoE);
  13. Bill of Lading as mentioned in the Bill of Entry (BoE) for sea consignment;
  14. Air Way Bill as mentioned in the Bill of Entry (BoE) for air consignment;
  15. In case of an aseptic package, a declaration by an undertaking from the manufacturer that the representative sealed sample is from the same batch of the consignment.

Step 3: Consignment Inspection & Sampling 

Inspection and Sampling of the ConsignmentOnce an application is made in the FICS with the required documents, an FSSAI Officer will verify the submitted documents. However, if the application is accepted, the importer will be requested to deposit fees for FSSAI clearance based on the number of samples.

The FSSAI Officer will fix a date and time for a visual inspection of the consignment during which the following parameters will be verified:

  1.  The physical condition of the consignment for visible insects and fungal infestation.
  2.  The valid remaining shelf life of the product is more than the 60% of its original shelf life at the time of import clearance.
  3.  Compliance with the FSS (Packaging & Labelling) Regulations, 2011. The product-specific labeling requirements.
  4.  Rectification of labeling deficiencies, namely
  5. Name and address of the importer
  6. FSSAI logo and license number
  7. Veg / Non-Veg Symbol.

Step 4: Food Product approval

approval of food product

If the authorized lab issues an approved conclusion report affirming that the eatables consignment is in agreement with the FSSAI controls. Therefore, No Objection Certificate (NoC)/Non Conformance Certificate (NCC) is issued by the inspector. The food items would then be cleared for import in India and discharged from the Traditional Distribution Center.

Related: Steps to get FSSAI Product Approval

Items without FSSAI Approval to be Imported in India

Mentioned below is a list of food products that can be imported in India without registering for an FSSAI Approval:

  1. Export rejected or re-imported foodstuff implied for re-trade.
  2. Food articles or fixings or added substances which are being transported in Thus, for the assembling of 100% fares items.
  3. Food imported by Diplomatic Missions.
  4. Import of Food for Quality Assurance, Research, and Development. It is transported in sustenance which can’t be discharged into the household to advertise. Also utilized for test showcasing or statistical surveying purposes.
  5. Food imported for the reasons for presentations and tasting, subject to specific conditions.
  6. Food got amid any fiasco/crisis circumstances.
  7. Import of sustenance for sports occasions, subject to specific conditions.

Related: Kind of Food Business which requires Food License

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the FSSAI Licence?
What are the requirements of License and Registration before import?
What are the consignment clearance stages after the arrival of food products?
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Do I require the FSSAI Central License for importing food products in India?
How Can I Import Food Products?
Which are the documents required for FSSAI License for an Importer?
Which are the additional documents for NOC?
What is the validity period of the Import license?
In what provisions, FSSAI NOC is exempted for imported food?
Where are all the imported food samples are sent by FSSAI for analysis?