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Food Imports to the U.S.
Food shipments must be marked correctly to indicate if either or both of the following may apply:
- For personal use or consumption and not for resale
- A gift
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) defines food shipments as those containing food, beverage, vitamins, nutritional supplements, chewing gum for human or animal consumption. A shipment containing multiple non-food items and even one food item will result in the shipment having to meet food shipment import requirements.
- Perishable food commodities
- Personal consignments of alcoholic beverages
Requirements for HOME MADE items:
- Air Waybill and Commercial Invoice must show an individual’s name as the shipper and consignee.
- “Homemade - For personal use,” and the product description must be on the Air Waybill and Commercial Invoice.
- Example of a good description: Homemade Chocolate cookies, for personal use
- Prior Notice filing via the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) is required when valued greater than $200.
- FDA declaration is required if the value of the shipment exceeds $200.
Requirements for person-to-person items:
- Air Waybill and Commercial Invoice must show an individual’s name as the shipper and consignee
- If a company name is shown anywhere on the Air Waybill and Commercial Invoice, Prior Notice (PN) will be required at any value
- “Personal use” and the product description must be on the Air Waybill and Commercial Invoice
- Example of a good description: Personal use – not for resale – butter cookies
- Prior Notice filing via the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) is required for a declared value over $200.
Food purchased at a store or online in a foreign country:
- Specialty baskets and items ordered through an online commercial establishment and sent to an individual require submission of Prior Notice to the FDA if a company name is shown anywhere on the Air Waybill
- If shipped from person to person, the Air Waybill and Commercial Invoice must show an individual’s name as the shipper and consignee.
- If a company name is shown as either shipper or consignee on the Air Waybill or Commercial Invoice, Prior Notice will be required at any value.
- A good description should include: what it is, how it is packaged (internal packaging, i.e. glass bottle, plastic wrapping, etc), unit of measure (kgs, grams, ounces, etc), quantity and how / where it will be used (i.e. For human or non –human consumption, laboratory testing, etc)
Further information can be found on the FDA’s Web site at www.fda.gov
Gift Shipments to the U.S. (EXCLUDING food items or items subject to FDA)
- U.S. Customs allows gifts duty/ tax free entry valued up to $100 per person
- Gift Declaration: All gifts must be individually wrapped and marked on the outside as a gift
- Consolidated Shipments: Gifts intended for more than one person may be consolidated in the same package if they are identifiable by recipient name and fair value for each recipient (i.e. John, June and Julie Stone)
- The Air Waybill or Invoice must indicate that it is an unsolicited gift, with the name of each person receiving the gift and a value breakdown not to exceed $100 per person
- Shipments of gifts consigned to an individual from a foreign company, ordinarily would not be eligible for treatment as a gift, however, may be allowed if the value requirement is met and the package and the Air Waybill or Invoice indicates this is a gift (excluding food)
- Also, the Invoice or Air Waybill may indicate a person’s name and a company’s name (i.e. Cindy Jones c/o ABC Company) as long as the documentation indicates this is a gift
- Exceptions: Alcoholic beverages, perfumes containing alcohol, cigars or cigarettes will not be considered for duty/tax free entrance. Cigars of Cuban origin are prohibited entry to the US
- Fish and wildlife clearance may be required if product originates from wildlife or contains wildlife parts
Quota limitations on textiles do not apply to gift importations. Merchandise will not be subject to quota restrictions if the merchandise is imported as a gift.
Personal Use Importations
Personal Use Definition: A shipment consisting of articles intended solely for the personal use of an individual and not for commercial use or resale. Note: One’s own possession shipped unaccompanied is not a Personal Use importation, but is considered personal and household effects.
- Personal Use shipments with a declared value of $200 or less may be released without assessment of duty or tax (except for made to measure suits from Hong Kong)
Documents Required: FedEx Air Waybill, Commercial Invoice (CI), Specific information relevant to regulatory declarations, e.g., FCC, FDA.
- The Air Waybill should include an actual description of the contents, plus a statement of personal use, for example “Personal use, Not for Resale, Ladies’ cotton shirts.”
- A statement of personal use should also be on the Commercial Invoice prepared by the shipper.
- Personal Use shipments are exempt from quota and visa requirements.
- Textile articles do not require manufacturer information when entered by informal entry.
- Personal Use articles are still subject to other agencies declaration requirements such as FDA.
- Ancillary fees may apply for regulatory agency declarations.
- Personal Use shipments not over $800 may be released without assessment of duty or tax
- Shipments valued over $800 will be subject to duties and tax assessment, as determined by tariff classification.
- Importer number is not required for informal entry.
- Merchandise Processing Fee (MPF) is not assessed on informal entries filed by express carriers.