This guidance document describes FDA’s policy regarding requests for participation in FDA’s Voluntary Qualified Importer Program (VQIP) by importers of food for humans or animals. This document provides guidance on:
• The benefits VQIP importers can expect to receive
• The eligibility criteria for VQIP participation
• Instructions for completing a VQIP application
• Conditions that may result in revocation of participation in VQIP and
• Criteria for VQIP reinstatement following revocation
Importers participating in VQIP will receive the following benefits:
• FDA will expedite entry into the United States for all foods included in an approved VQIP application (VQIP foods). FDA will set screening in its Predictive Risk-based Evaluation for Dynamic Import Compliance Targeting (PREDICT) import screening system to recognize shipments of food which are the subject of an approved VQIP application to expedite the entry of such food. The system is designed to recognize the information and immediately release the shipment, unless examination and sampling are necessary for public health reasons.
• FDA will limit examination and/or sampling of VQIP food entries to “for cause” situations (i.e., when the food is or may be associated with a risk to the public health), to obtain statistically necessary risk-based microbiological samples, and to audit VQIP.
• In the examination and/or sampling circumstances identified in the previous bullet, FDA will examine an entry and collect samples at the VQIP food destination or other location preferred by the VQIP importer. If exportation is warranted, FDA will assist in fulfilling an importer’s request to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to export from the port preferred by the importer.
• FDA will expedite its laboratory analysis of “for cause” or audit samples of VQIP entries, to the extent possible in accordance with public health priorities.
• FDA will maintain a VQIP Importers Help Desk dedicated to responding to questions and resolving issues raised by VQIP importers about VQIP food and this guidance document.
• FDA will post a publicly available list of approved VQIP importers on FDA’s VQIP Web page at [insert link to FDA VQIP Web page]. VQIP importers may choose not to be listed on the VQIP importers list.
To download an Adobe copy of the FDA VQIP Guidance document please follow this link: FDA VQIP Guidance Document