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As VQIP Application Period Expires, FDA Encourages Importers to Prepare Early for Next Year’s Cycle

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The application portal for the Voluntary Qualified Importer Program (VQIP) opened in January, however Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not anticipate that any importers will be able to apply during this application cycle while certification bodies (also known as third-party auditors) receive their accreditation under the Accredited Third-Party Certification Program.
VQIP is a voluntary fee-based program that provides expedited review and import entry of human and animal foods into the United States for participating importers. To participate, importers are required to meet certain eligibility requirements, which include ensuring that the facilities of their foreign supplier are certified by a certification body that has been accredited through the Accredited Third-Party Certification Program.

FDA has recognized two accreditation bodies, ANSI-ASQ National Accreditation Board (ANAB) and the American National Standards Institute (ANSI,) which will be assessing and accrediting certification bodies. This process takes some time, and so currently no certification bodies have been accredited through this program. Because no such certification bodies have yet been certified, FDA does not expect any importers to be able to apply to participate in VQIP for the FY19 benefit year. The VQIP application portal is open annually from January 1 through May 31 for the following benefit year. Due to the time needed to accredit certification bodies, FDA will consider early opening for the FY20 application portal later this calendar year once certification bodies have been accredited under FDA’s Accredited Third Party-Certification Program. This would allow importers to submit their completed applications early for the FY20 benefit year.

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