How Can I Export Food Products to the USA From India

Are you planning to export food from India to the United States? Congratulations! This is an exciting time for international trade. 

India’s economy is one of the largest in the world, so it is no surprise that Indians from all over the country are exporting food to the US. India’s Foreign Trade Policy requires exporters to obtain an import-export license with a valid IEC (Importer-Exporter Code) before beginning operations.

In addition, restaurants that sell food to Americans must register with the USFDA (US Food & Drug Administration). Facilities that are located outside the US must also obtain a USFDA registration through a registered agent and abide by USFDA guidelines at all times.

Guidelines for completing the IEC online application process

The DGFT (Directorate General of Foreign Trade) assigns an IEC number to any Indian company that seeks to do international business from India. As per Paragraph 2.05 of the FTP (2015-20), an application for IEC must be made in India. Below is a step-by-step guide to applying for the IEC in India.

  • Step 1: Visit the DGFT online portal. Click on the ‘Apply for IEC’ link.
  • Step 2: Your details (name, mobile number, email ID, etc) will be required for the IEC online application form. After that, you will receive an OTP via text message. Type the OTP in the space provided and click Submit.
  • Step 3: Your business’ establishment date, PAN, bank account details, etc., must be provided on the following page. When you’re done, click on ‘Submit’.
  • Step 4: Next, you will need to pay the IEC application fee. The payment can be made via an e-transfer.
  • Step 5: Upon paying the fee, you will need to upload digital copies of all the required documents.
  • Step 6: You will then be asked to submit the completed IEC online application form. On successful submission, an Ecom reference number will appear on the screen. Make a note of this reference number.
  • Step 7: Finally, print out the IEC application form. Your local DGFT office needs a copy of this form. Lastly, take a print of the completed IEC application form.
  • Step 8: On successful verification of your credentials, your IEC will be issued within 3 to 7 days.

Obtaining a USFDA Registration Certificate

Step 1: Hire a USFDA agent

A USFDA agent must be appointed before registering a food facility. These agents assist the FDA in communicating with foreign companies like yours. The agent will also help the FDA schedule inspections and will respond on your behalf to any FDA questions or communications. In order to accomplish this, you need to notify all information regarding your agent electronically via FURLS (FDA Unified Registration & Listing System).

Step 2Submit the USFDA registration application form

Food businesses from both domestic and foreign countries must submit an online registration application through the FDA’s unified registration and listing system.

Step 3: Issue a registration number by the FDA

Upon completion of the registration process, the FDA will issue an 11-digit registration number.

Step 4: Obtaining the USFDA registration certificate

Your agent will send you the registration certificate. 

Does a USFDA Registration Need to Be Renewed?

To ensure conformity to FDA guidelines, the FSMA began requiring the renewal of FDA certificates in 2011. Facilities engaged in the packing, processing, manufacturing, or storing of foods, beverages, and nutraceuticals consumed in the United States must renew their FDA registration. FDA agents can assist with renewal.

In two years, the USFDA will cancel your registration if it is not renewed by the 31st. All the food products exported after the expiry of the renewal deadline will be stopped at US ports. 

Until the food facility registration is renewed or a new 11-digit USFDA registration number is obtained, these products cannot be released to the owner, consignee, or importer.

The Takeaway

Exporting food products to the US requires several different types of licensing and registration. Importers of food into the United States are also expected to abide by strict compliance guidelines. Vakilsearch can assist you with FDA and IEC registration. In addition, we can ensure compliance with all USFDA guidelines. 

When you partner with Vakilsearch, you’re saying goodbye to all import/export-related problems. Contact our team now and get your import/export license and FDA registration in just a few days!


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