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Checklist for FSSAI License for Importer

Narendra Kumar

| Updated: Jan 11, 2018 | Category: FSSAI Food License

FSSAI License for Importer

Food importers have to get registered with the Director-General of Foreign Trade. Food importers have to obtain an FSSAI License for importer which will be a Central License from FSSAI.

How to apply for FSSAI License for Importer?

Various food products are imported in India from different countries. To ensure safe imported food is made available to consumers, Authorized Officers are appointed by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (hereinafter referred to as “FSSAI”) to check the imported food articles at various ports. Importers of food have to comply with various norms to make sure the imported food gets clearance. Primarily, section 25 of the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 contains provisions relating to the import of food articles in India and states that

“No person shall import into India – Any hazardous or misbranded or sub-standard food or food covering unimportant matter; any article of food for the import of which a license is required under any Act or rules or regulations, except in accordance with the conditions of the license; and whichever object of nutrition in breaking of any other provision of this Act or of any rule or regulation made thereunder or any other Act.”

Further, for the purpose of streamlining the process of clearance of food in an efficient and transparent manner, the FSSAI has notified the Food Safety and Standards (Import) Regulations, 2017 on March 9, 2017, laying down provisions for import of food in India and FSSAI packaging and labeling of such imported food items. Various provisions that are contained in the Food Safety and Standards (Import) Regulations, 2017 are as follows:

  • License/Registration required for import of food
  • All food importers have to possess an Import Export Code to import food into India.
  • Food importers have to get registered with the Director-General of Foreign Trade.
  • Food importers have to obtain an FSSAI License for Importer from the Central Licensing Authority in accordance with the provisions of the Food Safety and Standards (Licensing and Registration of Food Businesses) Regulations, 2011.

Shelf Life of Imported Food

The shelf life of a food article is the period between the date of manufacture of such food and the “Best Before” or “Date of expiry”, whichever is earlier, as printed on the label. Only food articles which have a valid shelf life of not less than 60% at the time of import of such food will be cleared by customs.

If imported food articles have a shelf life of fewer than 7 days, the importer has to submit an application for issuance of provisional no-objection certificate to the customs. Thereafter, the Authorized Officer1 shall communicate to the customs along with no-objection certificate if the food articles conform to the required standard. These provisions are related to the FSSAI License for Importer.

Packaging and Labelling of Imported Food

All imported food has to be packaged and labelled in accordance with Labeling and Packaging Regulations, 2011. Also, the following compliances the Food Safety and Standards (Import) Regulations, 2017 are to be adhered to:

All food articles are to be transported or stored in optimal storage conditions of temperature and hygiene, packaged and labelled as per regulations applicable to that particular article of food.

In case multiple foods or foods falling under different categories are packed in a single container or carton or pallet or skid, then the foods are to be packed in such a manner that they are accessible for inspection and sampling.

Procedure for Importing Foods into India

Bill of Entry (BOE) is filed at the Customs ICE GATE on Single Window Interface for Facilitating Trade (SWIFT). SWIFT is working on Risk-based sampling system, called as Risk Management System (RMS).

  1. Risk Management System (RMS) scrutinizes the application and if the sampling is required; the BOE is referred to FSSAI on online Food Import Clearance System (FICS).
  2. CHA/Importer needs to be registered on FICS (www.ics.fssai.gov.in).
  3. FSSAI accepts the BOE and may ask for further details from CHA/Importer, if necessary.
  4. If all the relevant information is provided, Authorized Officer (A.O) fixes an appointment for the inspection of the consignment (only two opportunities are provided to the CHA/Importer to confirm the appointment).
  5. On inspection, if all originate suitable counting labelling and packaging requirements of the batches, the samples are drawn (2 nos) and if not, Authorized Officer rejects the consignment and issues Non-Conforming Report.
  6. Samples are then sent to FSSAI Notified Food Laboratory, If the sample is found conforming then-No Objection Certificate (NOC) is generated and if not conforming, then Non-Conforming Report (NCR) is generated, refusing the permission of food consignment.
  7. If Importer is not settled with the finding of the laboratory report, he may apply for retesting at the referral laboratory. The outcome of the test result will determine the fate of consignment. He may present the review application to the Review Officer (Director, Imports) along with the required documents at the FSSAI Headquarter.
  8. The order passed by the Review Officer can be challenged before the CEO, FSSAI whose decision thereon will be final

Procedure for Obtaining NOC for FSSAI

For applying for NOC these are the important document requirements

  • Importer Exporter Code (IEC) issued by the DGFT
  • FSSAI Food Business License
  • Bill of Entry
  • Examination Order generated by the EDI system of Customs
  • The end-use declaration, a declaration that food is not GM food
  • Country of Origin Certificate
  • Besides this, depending on individual import items other documents could be required

The procedure for obtaining NOC is that first, you have to pay the fees for laboratory testing on a per-sample basis. Since April 2014 the FSSAI is accepting payments only through bank credit/ debit cards/ net banking for all import clearance through FICS only.

You have to provide any clarification sought by the Authorized Officer (AO). It is important to facilitate and company the inspection team at the time of inspection and drawing of samples once the dates are given. The AO will check the consignment visually for

  • The physical condition of the consignment a for visible insect or fungal infestation
  • The shelf life of the product which should be more than the 60% of its original shelf life at the time of import clearance
  • Compliance with the FSS (Packaging & Labelling) Regulations, 2011, and the product-specific labelling requirements;

Also, Read:

Permission Required for Chocolate Business License

What is Importer Exporter Code (IEC)?

The first obligation before you start an import/ export commercial in India is to find an IEC. An IEC is necessary for import/export of goods. In case the import/export is of services or technology, IEC is required in only limited circumstances, when import/export is in ‘specified services’ or ‘specified technologies’, i.e. services or technologies in which international trade is limited by the Administration of India as they relate to countrywide security, such as commerce in nuclear weapons, automatic guns, etc.

IEC is not required under the following circumstances:

  1. Import/export of goods for personal use, which is not connected with trade, manufacture or agriculture.
  2. Import/export by government offices and departments, and certain informed charitable governments
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Narendra Kumar

Experienced Finance and Legal Professional with 12+ Years of Experience in Legal, Finance, Fintech, Blockchain, and Revenue Management.

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