Exporting Foods from the United States: A Detailed Guide

The United States is a major food producer worldwide, and many American agricultural products are in high demand overseas. Exporting foods from the USA can be a lucrative business, but it can also be complicated and bureaucratic. This guide will show you how to export food products from the USA, from start to finish.

What You Need to Start Exporting Food Products from the United States

There are plenty of reasons to want to export foods from the USA. Maybe you own a small farm and have a surplus of product, or maybe you're a large-scale producer looking for new markets. Whatever your reasons, you'll need a few things before you can start exporting food products from the USA.

Register Your Business With the FDA

The first step is to register your business with the FDA. The FDA is the government agency responsible for regulating food in the USA. You'll need to obtain a Food Facility Registration if you want to export food products from the US.

You can register your business online through the FDA website. The registration process is relatively simple, and you’ll just need to provide some basic information about your business and the food products you plan to export

You'll also need to pay a registration fee, which is currently $175 for most businesses. However, the fee may be waived if you demonstrate that your business is small or medium-sized or if you are a non-profit organization.

Obtain All Required Permits and Bills

Whether you're importing or exporting goods, you can count on needing a bill of landing and a commercial invoice.

Bill of Landing

The bill of landing is a document provided by the carrier and lists all the particulars about the shipment, such as the date, method of transportation, origin, destination, and more. This document is important because it proves that the carrier has received the goods.

You’ll need to submit:

  • Description of goods: Be as specific as possible when describing the goods you're exporting. The description should include the product type, quantity, weight, and other relevant information.
  • Quantity of goods: Be sure to list the exact quantity of goods you’re exporting. If there are any discrepancies, it could cause delays at customs.
  • Value of goods: You’ll need to list the value of the goods you’re exporting.
  • Weight of goods: The weight of the goods is important for shipping purposes. Make sure the weight is accurate to avoid any problems.
  • Name of recipient: You’ll need to list the name and address of the recipient.
  • Address of recipient: The address should be complete and accurate, as any discrepancies could cause delays. After you have all the required information, you’ll need to fill out the customs declaration form.
  • Terms of sale: Include the terms of sale, such as FOB (free on board) or C&F (cost and freight). You should also include a packing list, as we have already mentioned.
Commercial Invoice

A commercial invoice is a document that provides all the details about a transaction between a buyer and seller. This document is important because it's used by customs to determine the value of imported or exported goods.

You’ll need to include the following information on your commercial invoice:

  • Name and address of both the seller (exporter) and the buyer (importer)
  • Value of goods
  • Quantity of goods
  • Description of goods

What Else You Need

In addition to the documents we’ve already mentioned, you may also need other permits and licenses, depending on the type of food products export you’re after.

For example, if you want to export meat, poultry, or eggs, you’ll need to obtain a license from the USDA. And if you want to export dairy products, you’ll need to obtain a license from the FDA.

You can find out if you need any other permits or licenses by checking with the FDA or your state’s agriculture department.

This part of the article will detail some of the licenses you may need.

Pro Forma Invoice

A pro forma invoice is not required by customs, but it's a good idea to include one anyway. This document is a preliminary invoice that estimates the costs of shipping the goods.

Commercial Invoice

As we have already mentioned, you’ll need to include a commercial invoice with your shipment. This document provides all the details about the transaction, such as the value of the goods, the quantity, the description, and more.

Export Packing List

An export packing list is a document that lists all the items that are being shipped. This document is essential because it helps customs officials verify the shipment's contents.

The packing list should include the following information:

  • Description of goods
  • Quantity of goods
  • Weight of goods
  • Value of goods
  • Name and address of the recipient

Air Waybill

An air waybill or bill of lading is a document the carrier provides and lists all the particulars about the shipment, such as the date, method of transportation, origin, destination, and more. This document is important because it proves that the carrier has received the goods.

Bill of Lading

Likewise, a bill of lading is also a document that the carrier provides and lists all the particulars about the shipment. This document is important because it serves as proof of receipt of the goods by the carrier.

Certificate of Origin

A certificate of origin is a document used to prove that the goods exported are actually from the country of origin. This document is important because it helps to avoid duties and tariffs on goods.

You'll need to contact your local chamber of commerce to obtain a certificate of origin.

Certificate of Conformity

A certificate of conformity is a document that certifies that the goods being exported meet the requirements of the country of destination. This document is important because it helps avoid delays and customs clearance problems.

To obtain a certificate of conformity, you’ll need to contact a conformity assessment body in the country of destination.

Export License

Finally, we can't forget about the export license. The US government requires this document for certain goods, such as arms and ammunition, drugs, and more.

You'll need to apply to the Directorate of Defense Trade Controls to obtain an export license.

Why You Need Exporting Documents

As you can see, many different documents are required to start the export procedure for food products. What you need depends on the type of goods you want to export.

But, why do you need all these documents in the first place?

Simply put, these documents are required by customs to clear your shipment. Without them, your shipment will likely be delayed or even refused.

So, ensuring you have all the necessary documents before you even start packing your shipment is essential.

After all, food is one of the most delicate commodities to export.

This is because food is perishable and needs to be kept at a certain temperature to prevent spoilage.

Additionally, the food needs to be properly packaged and labeled to meet the requirements of the country of destination.

ATI Can Help You Start Exporting Food Products

If you’re interested in exporting food products from the USA, ATI can help.

ATI is a leading provider of export compliance services, and we can help you with everything from getting an export license to preparing your shipment for customs clearance.

We have a team of experts who are familiar with the regulations and requirements of exporting food products, so you can rest assured that your shipment will be in good hands.

Contact us today to get started, and we'll help you prepare your food products for export.

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