Food Import policy and regulations in India

Food Import policy and regulations in India

Every food importer in India has to comply with the provisions of the Foreign Trade (Development and Regulation) Act, 1992. Moreover, the provisions of Foreign Trade Policy and terms and conditions of any License/certificate/permission/Authorization and provisions of any other law for the time being in force.

Foreign Trade (Development and Regulation) Act, 1992

FTDR was promulgated for the development and regulation of foreign trade and matters connected therewith or incidental thereto. The FTDR elaborates the following:- 

1. Power of Central Government to make Orders and Announce Export and Import Policy: Section 3,4,5, and 6 of the act provides that the Central Government may make provisions for the development and regulation of foreign trade by facilitating imports and increasing exports.

2. Importer-Exporter Code Number: Section 7-9 of the act provides that an importer has to get an importer-exporter Code Number granted by the Director-General or the officer authorized by the Director-General.

3. Search, Seizure, Penalty and Confiscation: Section 10 of the act provides that the Central Government may authorize any person to exercise such powers with respect to entering such premises and searching, inspecting and seizing of such goods, documents, things and conveyances, subject to such requirements and conditions, as may be prescribed.


Import Procedure

1) Filling of application: Every application for an Import/Export license/certificate/Authorisation/ permission should be completed as required under the relevant provisions of the Policy/Procedures. An incomplete application is liable to be rejected, giving a specific reason for rejection. However, in the manual application, the applicant may furnish a soft copy of the application in MS word format.

2) Documentation: Importer has to furnish an import declaration in the prescribed Bill of Entry format. The declaration should disclose the value of the imported goods. In addition, any import licenses and phytosanitary certificates (in case of agricultural commodities), along with documentation such as sales invoices and freight and insurance certificates may also be furnished.

3) Profile importer/ Exporter: Every importer or exporter has to file importer/exporter profile once with the Regional Authority in Part 1 of ‘Aayaat Niryaat Form’.

4) Application for Grant of IEC Number: The application for Importer-Exporter Code shall be made by the Registered/Head Office of the applicant to the Regional Authority under whose jurisdiction, the Registered office in the‘Aayaat Niryaat Form’ falls.


Customs Clearance Procedure for Food items:

1. 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).

2. 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).

3. CHA/Importer needs to be registered on FICS ( 

4. FSSAI accepts the BOE and may ask for further details from CHA/Importer, if necessary. 

5. 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).


6. On inspection, if everything is found satisfactory, including labelling and packaging requirements of the consignments, the samples are drawn (2 nos). If not, the Authorized Officer rejects the consignment and issues NonConforming Report.


7. 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, rejecting the clearance of food consignment.


8. If the importer is not agreed 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.


9. The order passed by the Review Officer can be challenged before the CEO, FSSAI whose decision thereon will be final.


10. For more details, please go through the FSS Act 2006 and regulations made thereunder. They are available on the website, i.e.