Update: FDA’s VQIP (Voluntary Qualified Importer Program

If you are interested to join FDA’s Voluntary Qualified Importer Program, FDA will be extending the application period for importers to submit their completed application for the Voluntary Qualified Importer Program (VQIP) for the Fiscal Year 2020 benefits period. The application portal will remain open until July 31, 2019

Background:

What is it?

A voluntary, fee-based program for the expedited review and importation of foods from importers who achieve and maintain a high level of control over the safety and security of their supply chains.

Who is eligible?

Importers (defined as the person who brings food, or causes food to be brought, from a foreign country into the United States) should meet several eligibility criteria to participate in the program. These criteria include:

  •     Developing and implementing a Quality Assurance Program (QAP) that demonstrates a high level of control over the safety and security of supply chains.
  •     Assurance of compliance with the supplier verification and other importer responsibilities under the applicable Foreign Supplier Verification Program (FSVP), juice HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points), or seafood HACCP regulations.
  •     A current facility certification issued under FDA’s Accredited Third-Party Certification regulations for each foreign supplier of food intended for importation under VQIP.  In the case of raw produce, there must be a certification for the farm.
  •     At least a three-year history of importing food to the United States. The import history may be based on the shared importation history of previous or parent companies, such as those that have been involved in a merger. If applicants have imported food for more than three years, the FDA may review additional years as necessary to adequately evaluate compliance history.
  •     No ongoing FDA administrative or judicial action (e.g., import alert, injunction, recall), or other history of significant non-compliance with food safety regulations by the importer, other entities in the supply chain (e.g., foreign suppliers, filers/brokers, and FSVP and HACCP importers), or food.
  •     Having a Dun & Bradstreet (D&B) Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) number.  To obtain a DUNS number, contact D&B at 866-705-5711 or via e-mail to govt@dnb.com.  All entities doing business with the U.S. government can receive a DUNS number free of charge.

Benefits of participating:

  •     The FDA will expedite entry into the U.S. for all foods included in an approved VQIP application.
  •     This means that the FDA will set up its import screening system to recognize shipments of food that are the subject of an approved VQIP application and, in most cases, immediately release the shipment after the receipt of entry information.
  •     The FDA will limit examination and/or sampling of VQIP food entries to “for cause” situations in which there is a potential threat to public health, to obtain statistically necessary risk-based microbiological samples, and to audit VQIP.
  •     In the event that FDA examines or samples a VQIP food, the location of such sampling or examination would, to the extent possible, be at the VQIP food’s destination or another location chosen by the importer.
  •     In the event that FDA samples a VQIP food, laboratory analysis of such samples would be expedited.
  •     The FDA will establish a VQIP Importers Help Desk dedicated to responding to questions and concerns from VQIP importers. The help desk will be available for assistance with completing the VQIP application, facilitating a review of VQIP food that does not receive an immediate release, and answering other questions from VQIP importers related to the program.
  •     The FDA will post on its VQIP web page a list of approved VQIP importers; however, VQIP importers may choose not to be listed.
  •     The FDA may suspend any or all of these benefits as necessary to protect public health or in the case of an unforeseen emergency.

How do I apply?

  •     Visit the FDA Industry Systems website to establish an online account.
  •     From January 1 to May 31 each year, submit online a “Notice of Intent to Participate”  in VQIP.
  •     Your VQIP application must be renewed each year.
  •     New: VQIP application Portal Opened on October 1, 2018 and  will remain open until July 31, 2019, after which it will close to allow time for the agency to review applications before the start of the annual benefits period that will begin on October 1, 2019.

For more information:

Email the VQIP Importers Help Desk: http://FSMAVQIP@fda.hhs.gov

or Call 1-301-796-8745 for assistance in completing your VQIP application.

https://www.fda.gov/food/importing-food-products-united-states/voluntary-qualified-importer-program-vqip

Facts Sheet:

https://www.fda.gov/food/food-safety-modernization-act-fsma/fact-sheet-final-guidance-industry-fdas-voluntary-qualified-importer-program

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