According to the FDA website, "the VQIP program is a voluntary fee-based program that provides expedited review and import entry of human and animal foods into the United States for participating importers." This benefit will help many food companies that import regularly into the United States, however, not everyone that applies will qualify. Eligibility criteria include the following:
- 3 year history of importing foods into the United States
- a Duns Number
- Use of a paperless customs brokers/filers that received an acceptable rating during their last FDA Filer Evaluation
- None of the foods imported have had a Class 1 recall at the time of submission.
- No history of significant non-compliances related to FDA Food Safety
- If FSVP or HACCP importer, in compliance with the supplier verification and other importer responsibilities under the applicable FSVP, Juice HACCP or Seafood HACCP regulations
- Currently have a facility certification for each foreign supplier being imported from under the VQIP.
- Must develop and implement a VQIP Quality Assurance program
- Within the past 3 years, not subject to any U.S. Customs and Border Protection penalties, forfeitures, or sanctions that are related to safety and security of any FDA-regulated products imported or offered to import
- User fee must be paid before October 1st every year, which could cost over $16,500 annually according to this article published by the American Journal of Transportation in 2015.
The price might seem daunting, but it is comparable to fees that are being charged by companies to implement an FSVP program and many are spending a lot more. You may have been experiencing updated systems and vendor portals with your customers - many are updating because of these regulatory changes. There are many options, but for now, the VQIP program is closed until January 1st of 2019. If you need assistance with your FSVP program in the meantime, contact us