Marisol International Transportation & Logistics Blog

An Essential Element to Importing Food

Posted by Chelsea Mitchell on May 4, 2015 11:03:00 AM

Nearly 20% of all imports into the U.S. are food and food products. These food imports require Prior Notice filing in order for the goods to enter U.S. commerce. Prior Notice allows FDA to review and evaluate information before a food product arrives in the U.S. so the agency is able to allocate resources for inspections, as well as help intercept contaminated products. If your business imports food products into the United States, Prior Notice is pertinent to the success of your import program. So what important information do importers need to know about Prior Notice?


In December of 2003, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) introduced the Prior Notice requirement, mandating importers to submit advance notice of any shipment containing food, whether it is intended for humans or animals. The Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act of 2002 (the Bioterrorism Act) empowered FDA to take these necessary steps to protect the public from a threatened or actual terrorist attack on the U.S. food supply and other food-related emergencies. Therefore, in 2003, FDA implemented the Prior Notice requirement on shipments of imported foods. 

Who is affected?

Domestic and foreign shippers, brokers, manufacturers of food to be imported into the U.S., and transportation providers (including rail, truck, ship or air methods of transportation)

What is considered "food"? 

  • Articles used for food or drink for humans or animals 
  • Chewing gum
  • Articles used for components of items listed in the 1st and 2nd bullets

When must importers submit Prior Notice?

FDA must electronically receive and confirm Prior Notice before a food shipment arrives at the first port in the United States (port of arrival). Specific time frames for each mode of transportation are listed below. Unless a shipment is arriving by international mail, FDA must receive and confirm Prior Notice no more than 5 days before the shipment arrives.

  • By land via road - No less than 2 hours before arriving at the port of arrival
  • By land via rail - No less than 4 hours before arriving at the port of arrival
  • By air - No less than 4 hours before arriving at the port of arrival
  • By water - No less than 8 hours before arriving at the port of arrival
  • By international mail - Before the food is sent 

How can importers submit Prior Notice?

Prior Notice must be submitted electronically through either of the following systems:

  • ACS (Automated Commercial System) or ABI (Automated Broker Interface) of the Customs and Border Protection Service (CBP)
  • FDA Prior Notice System Interface 

What if an importer fails to give adequate Prior Notice?

The food is subject to refusal and, if refused, must be held at the port of entry unless directed to another location. 

Additionally, each food storage facility in the U.S. must sign up with FDA to obtain a food facility ID. You can find the food facility ID form here.

To learn more about compliance with U.S. Food and Drug Administration rules and regulations, contact Marisol today. Allow Marisol to file Prior Notice on your behalf, to support a compliant and successful import program. Marisol International provides a full range of international logistics and supply chain services including global transportation solutions, customs brokerage, cargo insurance, customs bonds, duty drawback and reconciliation. 

Importer Checklist: Save Time and Money 


Topics: Importing, Compliance

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