The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has announced final guidance for industry for a voluntary, fee-based program to allow the expedited review and importation of foods into the U.S. from importers with a proven track record of food safety and security.

According to FDA, the Voluntary Qualified Importer Program (VQIP) will benefit both industry and consumers. Expedited entry provides importers an incentive to adopt a robust system of supply chain management and will allow FDA to focus its resources on examining and sampling food imports that are more likely to present a potential risk to public health.

You must be a food importer to participate in VQIP. For the purposes of VQIP, the importer is defined as the person that brings food, or causes food to be brought, from a foreign country into the customs territory of the United States (section 806(g) of the FD&C Act). A VQIP importer can be located outside the United States. Persons who may be a VQIP importer include the manufacturer, owner, consignee, and importer of record of a food, provided that the importer can meet all the criteria for participation described in the guidance.

For specifics on eligibility, benefits, certification requirements and application steps, see the FDA’s official guidance document, complete with a question and answer section.

The FDA is accepting both electronic and written comments regarding this guidance. Submit electronic comments to Submit written comments to the Division of Dockets Management (HFA-305), Food and Drug Administration, 5630 Fishers Lane, rm. 1061, Rockville, MD 20852. All comments should be identified with the docket number listed in the notice of availability that publishes in the Federal Register.

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