The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will be extending the application period for importers to submit their notice of intent to participate and their completed application for the Voluntary Qualified Importer Program (VQIP) for the Fiscal Year 2021 benefits period. The application portal will remain open until July 31, 2020, 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, 2020.
The application period is being extended because the FDA understands that current travel restrictions and advisories related to the COVID-19 public health emergency have hindered the ability of accredited Certification Bodies (CBs) to conduct onsite regulatory audits and issue certifications to foreign entities, which are required as part of the VQIP application.
VQIP is a voluntary fee-based program established by the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) that provides expedited review and importation of human and animal foods into the United States for approved applicants who achieve and maintain a high level of control over the safety and security of their supply chains. To participate, importers must meet certain eligibility criteria, which include ensuring that the facilities of their foreign supplier are certified by a CB that has been accredited through the FDA’s Accredited Third-Party Certification Program.
The FDA is continuing its efforts to ensure that the application process for VQIP is as efficient as possible. If you are an importer interested in participating, below are some resources to help you through the process:
- Public Registry of Accredited Third-Party Certification Bodies
- Voluntary Qualified Importer Program (VQIP) Informational Webinar Recording
- VQIP Portal User Guide
- Voluntary Qualified Importer Program
Importers can submit questions about the program to the VQIP Importer’s Help Desk via phone at 1-301-796-8745 or email at FSMAVQIP@fda.hhs.gov.