In an effort to ensure imported food can be traced and safety issues handled effectively, the GACC (General Administration of Customs of China) is tightening up on records and filings.
The intention is to guarantee the safety of imported foods and further strengthen supervision.
In April 2021, the General Administration of Customs of China (GACC) released two revised decrees;
The first decree is the "Regulations on the Registration and Administration of Overseas Producers of Imported Food " (GACC Degree 248), which will require all overseas food manufacturers, processors, and storage facilities to register with the General Administration of Customs of China (GACC).
The second decree is the "Administrative Measures on Import and Export Food Safety" (GACC Degree 249), which covers a broad range of requirements on food exports to China, including overseas facilities registration, record filing by importers and exporters, quarantine and inspection, and product labeling.
According to the provisions of GACC Degree 249 Article 15, the GACC registration number of overseas production enterprises needs to be printed on the Chinese Labeling of imported food, then can pass the China Customs Clearance process normally.
Both Decree 248 and Decree 249 are slated to enter into force on January 1, 2022.
Provisions cover an extensive range of food categories that include meat, eggs and egg products, aquatic products and preserved aquatic products, traditional Chinese medicinal herbs, grains and grain products, fats and oils, beverages, sugars, vegetables and vegetable products.
Under the provisions the list continues, citing processed flavourings from plants, dried fruit and nuts, other plant origin foods, canned foods, dairy products, bee products, alcoholic beverages, pastry biscuits and crackers, candied preserved fruit, cigarettes, tea leaves, processed flavourings, other processed foods, foods for special dietary uses, and other foods.
I. Importers and exporters of imported food
The Administrative Provisions on the Record Filing of Importers and Exporters of Imported Food are applicable to the administration of record filings by foreign exporters and agents exporting food to the Chinese mainland as well as consignees of imported food within the Chinese territory. GACC is responsible for supervising and managing the record filing of importers and exporters of imported food, establishing the system for the record filing of importers and exporters of imported food, as well as publishing and updating the list on file of importers and exporters of imported food.
GACC's entry and exit inspection and quarantine departments in various localities are responsible for processing the filing applications of consignees of imported food, verifying the filed information and checking the information filed by importers and exporters at the time of food importation.
1. Exporters/agents exporting foods to China
Exporters/agents exporting foods to China shall apply to GACC for filing and shall be responsible for the truth of the filing information furnished.
Exporters/agents shall fill in and submit the application form for filing (see Appendix 1 for details) via the record-filing management system, providing such information as name, resident country/region, address, name of contact person, telephone number, food category handled, and name and telephone number of the person filling in the application form. They should also pledge that the information supplied is accurate and truthful. The exporter/agent should ensure that in case of any emergency the relevant person can be contacted using the information filed.
After submitting the filing information, the exporter/agent will be given a filing number and an enquiry number generated by the filing management system. The filing number and enquiry number can be used for making enquiries about the progress of filing or amending the information filed. In the event of a change in address or telephone number, the exporter/agent should make an amendment in the filing management system in a timely manner. In the event of a change of name, the exporter/agent should re-apply for filing. The list of exporters/agents which have completed filing will be published on GACC's website. The information published will include the name and resident country/region of the exporters/agents.
2. Consignees of imported foods
Consignees of imported foods on the Chinese mainland (including domestic and foreign-invested entities) shall file for record with the inspection and quarantine department at the place where their business registration was made, and shall be responsible for the accuracy of the information filed. The following materials should be provided when making an application:
(1) A filing application form duly completed by consignee with accurate and complete information;
(2) Photocopies of business licence, enterprise code certificate, identification certificate of the legal representative, and foreign trade operator record filing and registration form, as well as their originals for verification;
(3) Enterprise quality and safety management system;
(4) Food safety related organisation, department functions and post responsibilities;
(5) Food category handled and storage location;
(6) Consignees which have been engaged in the import, processing and sale of food in the preceding two years should provide the relevant information (food category, quantity);
(7) Consignees that can handle their own customs declaration and inspection shall provide photocopy of their registration certificate as a self customs declaration and inspection unit, together with the original copy of the certificate for verification.
After submitting the above materials and having been granted permission for filing, the consignee is given an application number and an enquiry number which can be used for making enquiries about the progress of filing or amending the information filed.
In the event of a change in the consignee's name, address or telephone number, the consignee shall apply for making amendments through the filing management system in a timely manner.
Upon examination and approval by the inspection and quarantine department, amendments can then be made.
In the case where the information provided for filing is complete, the inspection and quarantine department shall process the application for filing and shall complete the filing work within five working days.
The list of consignees filed will be published on GACC's website and the information published will include the name of the filed consignee and the name of the entry-exit inspection and quarantine bureau at its business place.
The inspection and quarantine department will conduct random checks on the information provided by the filed importers and exporters of imported foods. Inspection and quarantine departments in various localities will check the filed information of the exporter/agent against the information indicated on the imported food, and will check the related certificates or conduct on-site examination of the filed information provided by the consignee.
For filed information not complying with requirements, the inspection and quarantine department will request the provider to correct or rectify the information. If the information is not corrected or rectified in a timely manner according to request, it will be entered into the files of discredited enterprises handling food imports, exports, production and marketing.
When a food-importing consignee or agent applies for customs inspection of imported food, it should clearly indicate the name and filing number of the importer-exporter of the imported food on the inspection application form.
The inspection and quarantine department should verify whether information such as the filing number and name of the importer or exporter of the imported food is consistent with the information filed. For information which has not been filed or is inconsistent with the information filed, notification will be given to the applicant to complete the filing procedure or correct the information concerned.
Exporters/agents supplying false information in their application for filing or exporting foods to China which could result in an epidemic or quality and safety problems, will be subject to filing management as to their credibility, and rigorous food inspection and quarantine checks. Other unlawful acts will be handled in accordance with the relevant laws, rules and regulations.
Mainland consignees supplying false information in their application for filing will be disqualified for filing. In cases where any filed consignees are found to have provided false information, their filing numbers will be revoked. Consignees transferring, borrowing or misrepresenting filing numbers will be subject to creditability filing management and rigorous food inspection and quarantine checks.
II. Keeping records on food import and sale
In addition to establishing a filing management system for importers and exporters of imported foods, China has also set up a system supervising and managing records of the import and sale of imported foods. Under theAdministrative Provisions on Keeping Records on Food Import and Sale promulgated earlier, consignees of imported food are required to set up files (paper or electronic) documenting records of the import and sale of the food items mentioned above. The consignee should set up a special food import record to be managed by dedicated personnel. The storage period of the food import and sale records may not be less than two years.
1. Consignee's record of food import should contain the following information:
The name, brand, specifications, quantity, weight, value, production batch number, production date, expiry date, country of origin, and exporting country or region of the imported food; the name of the production enterprise and its registration number in China; the filing number, name and contact method of the exporter/agent; commercial contract number; port of entry; destination; numbers of relevant certificates issued by foreign (offshore) government authorities or government-authorised organisations as required; customs inspection form number; date of entry; place of storage; and the name and telephone number of the contact person.
The consignee should carefully keep the following import records and materials: commercial contract, bill of lading, relevant certificates issued by foreign (offshore) government authorities as required, a photocopy of the customs inspection form, copies of the Entry Goods Inspection and Quarantine Certificate and Health Certificate issued by the entry-exit inspection and quarantine department. The consignee should also set up a special sales record of imported foods to be managed by dedicated personnel.
2. Consignee's record of food sales should contain the following information:
The record of sale for imported foods should include records of sales flows and records of complaints against and recall of products sold. Records of sales flows should contain the description, specifications, quantity, weight, production date, production batch number, and sale date of the imported food; name and contact method of the purchaser (user); stock-out note number; invoice serial number; and ways of food disposal after recall (see Appendix 2 for details).
The record of complaints and recalls of products sold should contain the description, specifications, quantity, weight, production date, and production batch number of the imported food in question; the reason(s) for recalling or complaining against the products sold; self-examination and analysis; handling of contingency situations; and follow-up improvement measures (see Appendix 3 for details).
The consignee should keep the following sales records and materials: an original or a photocopy of the sale and purchase agreement, sales invoice counterfoil, and stock-out note. Consignees of foods for personal use should also keep materials such as records of processing and use. The consignee should carefully store the records of food imports and sale and keep them from getting soiled or damaged.
Appendix 1: Information required in filing records of food import
Name of consignee
Filing number of consignee
Date of import
Description of food
Production batch number
Country of origin
Exporting country (region)
Name of production enterprise
Production enterprise's registration number in China (if any)
Filing number of exporter/agent
Name of exporter/agent
Contact method of exporter/agent
Commercial contract number
Port of entry
Foreign (offshore) inspection and quarantine certificate number
Customs inspection form number
Date of entry
Place of storage
Contact person and telephone number
Appendix 2: Information required in filing records of sales of imported food
Name of consignee
Filing number of consignee
Date of sale
Description of imported food
Production batch number
Name of purchaser/user
Address and telephone number of purchaser/user
Stock-out note number
Invoice serial number
Ways of food disposal after recall
Appendix 3: Information required in filing records of complaint against and recall of imported food sold