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Online FSSAI License for Importers: How is food products imported in India?

Ashish M. Shaji

| Updated: May 10, 2017 | Category: FSSAI Food License

FSSAI License for Importers

India imports a lot of food from all over the world but is only allowed to import the products that have been registered with the Health Ministry. For applying the FSSAI License for Importers it is mandatory to obtain Importer exporter code.

How do I Import food products in India?

In order to import food products into India, an importer is required to follow these steps:

Import food products in India
  • Step 1- Custom Clearance

The importing food business operators are required to make an authority letter in the name of a custom handling agent inscribed to the FSSAI/authorized officer before the food consignment reaches the air or the sea port in India. As soon as the consignment arrives the custom handling agent shall apply to the clearance assignment with the department of custom based on the bill of entry. The consignment is verified by the govt. agent and clear the same once the formalities are completed and custom duty is paid.

  • Step 2- Applying for FSSAI clearance

When customs department clearance is obtained, the customs handling agent is required to apply food import clearance system of FSSAI to get the NOC (No Objection Certificate).Relevant documents is required to be uploaded as well to the FSSAI platform for FSSAI clearance.

  • Step 3- Inspection and Sampling

The FSSAI officer shall decide the date and time for visual inspection of the consignment. Once the visual inspection is completed, the FSSAI officer shall draft two samples from the consignment for testing. These samples would be analysed by the laboratory in accordance with the FSS Act[1] and Regulations.

  • Step 4- Approval of food product

When an authorized lab issues a report validating that the food consignment is in accordance to the FSS Act and Regulations, the FSSAI shall issue a NOC. This shall pave the way for food import into India.

Documents checklist for FSSAI license of Importer

The documents required are as follows:

  • Narcotics certificate;
  • Product approval certificate;
  • Import- Export Code;
  • FSSAI License;
  • Permit from the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Husbandry.

You can apply for the license online on the FSSAI’s official website and follow the steps that have been mentioned on the website. You need to register your company, obtain an import-export license, obtain a no objection certificate, get the approval for the food item, handle the shipping of the product, and then import the product into the country. It is a long procedure that needs to be set up for every food item that needs to be imported to India to take care of the health of the people living in the country.

NOC required for online FSSAI License for Importers

Obtaining a NOC is very important to get the food items imported into the country as you will not be able to get a license or import food without a NOC. You need the following documents to apply for a NOC:

  • Bill of Entry
  • End-use Declaration- A declaration regarding food as not being GM food
  • Country of Origin Certificate
  • Importer Exporter Code (IEC) issued by the DGFT
  • FSSAI Food Business License
  • Besides this, other documents may be required depending on individual import items.

You have to apply for a NOC, pay the fees for the laboratory testing of the food samples, clarify all the queries that are raised by the Authorized Officer, and accompany the inspection team at the tasting of the food samples. The NOC is granted after all the requirements from FSSAI are met, such as:

  • The samples should not have any visible insects and fungal infestation.
  • The food item has at least 60% shelf life remaining at the time it is cleared by customs.
  • The compliance with the FSS (Packaging & Labelling) Regulations, 2011, and the product-specific labelling requirements.

Once you have met all of the above requirements, you will be granted a NOC and can go ahead with obtaining the license for importing food items into the country.

Labelling Requirements on Food Import of Food Product in India

While importing any food items to India, the labels of the items should be in a specific manner and should have certain details for them to be acceptable and sold in the market. They are as follows:

  • The Labelling Language used must be as per FSSAI Packaging & Labelling Regulations, 2011, and the product-specific labelling requirements. Also, the Food Safety & Standards (Import) Regulations, 2017 should be adhered to.
  • The volume of contents and net weight
  • The “Best Before” date declaration
  • Nutritional facts and information
  • The name of the brand, company, product, etc.
  • The product description and the name of the ingredients used in the product
  • Declaration or vegetarian and non-vegetarian by symbols
  • Net weight
  • Batch number, code number, lot number
  • The name and address of the importer in India, and much more

These requirements have to be met by the company who is importing the food items to India to obtain an importing license. It is to make sure that the products are meeting the quality and health standards set by the Indian Health Ministry to protect their citizens and provide them with good food and health.

Why is Importer-Exporter Code required for obtaining FSSAI license for importers?

It is important to obtain IEC and is a must while importing or exporting any good to or from India. In this case, you need an IEC to import food items to India, and you need to apply for one well in advance as you will need it while obtaining the license for importing and the NOC. You can apply for the IEC Registration online and fill out the form on their website. The code is issued by DGFT and remains constant throughout the import and export activities. The code is needed to make challans, clear customs, obtain NOC, obtain licenses, and many more things and is, therefore, a requirement for starting an import-export business.

Conclusion

You should always check your eligibility for getting an FSSAI license for importers as they have strict rules regarding importing of food items due to the health of the citizens of the country. Only after you are eligible to apply for the FSSAI Central license, should you pursue this further and get a license by following all of the above-mentioned steps.

Do you wish to register for FSSAI License? Are you looking for the Food License Advisory? Would you like to know about the FSSAI laws? Please feel free to contact Enterslice, India Leading online legal and tax advisory firm.

Read our article:Implications of Non Compliance with the Provisions of FSSAI

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Ashish M. Shaji

Ashish M. Shaji has done his graduation in law (BA. LLB) from CCS University. He has keen interests in doing extensive research and writing on legal subjects especially on criminal and corporate law. He is a creative thinker and has a great interest in exploring legal subjects.

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