Food Licensing for Exports

FSSAI is Ultimate Authority in India tasked with ensuring maintenance of Standards & Safety by Food Business Operators. This includes Food Exporters. Exporting food items needs many Clearances and Licenses, from different Government Departments – even Laboratory Testing and Site Inspections. Process is complicated and long. By systematically taking “would-be” Food Exporters through the steps, we provide invaluable service.

  • Procuring appropriate FSSAI Food License
  • Fulfilling side formalities – IEC Code/DGFT/NOCs etc
  • Procuring FSSAI Food Export License
  • Conducting other connected clearances

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To ensure that the country does not earn a bad name by allowing sub-standard food items to be sent out, as well as safeguarding the well-being of the end consumer, wherever in the world such be; Food Exporters require a number of clearances and licenses before they can actually export. The Food Standards and Safety Authority of India (FSSAI) is the ultimate authority responsible for regulating and supervising food safety in the country. In its eyes, food exporters are just another class of Food Business Operators (FBOs). So the first step for a business that is planning to export food is to obtain a FSSAI License. FSSAI Food Licenses All FBOs must possess an appropriate FSSAI Food License. These are of three types: Basic Registration For those FBOs with turnover below Rs.12 lakhs (even hawkers are supposed to have this). For an exporter, therefore, this is unlikely to apply.

FSSAI Registration State License Meant for small to medium-sized FBOs (turnover more than Rs.12 lakhs) these are issued by State Governments and confined to operations in a single state. The validity of this license can be for a maximum of 5 years. FSSAI Registration Central License This is the license Food Exporters need as they will be operating at multiple locations, such as storage facilities, airports and seaports. Normally issued for a year its validity can be extended for a maximum of 5 years.

Requirements for Central Licence

The following documents must be submitted to the FSSAI for obtaining Central FSSAI License:

  • Form- B completed and signed by the Owner/Partner/Authorized Signatory.
  • Blueprint/layout of the processing unit showing the dimensions and operation-wise area allocation (Mandatory only for manufacturing and processing units).
  • List of Directors / Partner / Proprietor / Executive Members of Society / Trust with full address and contact details (Mandatory for Companies only).
  • Name and list of equipment and machinery along with the number, installed capacity and horsepower used (Mandatory only for manufacturing and processing units).
  • Photo identification and address proof issued by the Government for Proprietor / Partner / Director(s) / Authorized Signatory (Optional).
  • A list of food categories planned to be manufactured.
  • Authority letter with name and address of responsible person nominated by the manufacturer
  • Analysis report Chemical & Bacteriological of water to be used as an ingredient in the food.
  • Proof of possession of premises (Sale deed/Rent Agreement/Electricity Bill).
  • Partnership Deed or Declaration for Proprietorship or MOA & AOA along with Certificate of Incorporation and List of Directors with the address.
  • Food Safety Management System Plan or Certificate (if any).
  • NOC from Municipality or Local Body (optional).
  • Ministry of Commerce Certificate for 100% EOU (if so).
  • NOC/PA documents issued by FSSAI.
  • IE Code document issued by DGFT.
  • FSSAI Form IX: Nomination of Persons by a Company along with the Board Resolution.
  • FSSAI Declaration Form.

Food Export License

Apart from a FSSAI License, would-be exporters require a separate FSSAI License for Export for exporting food from India as well as approval from Health Ministry for the products in question. This basically certifies that the item(s) is not harmful and fit for consumption.

Prior to this, exporters must have:

  • A valid import-export code.
  • Be registered with the Directorate General of Foreign Trade.
  • Possess an Export License from the Central Licensing Authority

It is best to the look beyond the immediate export and register food items that you anticipate exporting in the future as the procedure take time. It is also important to exclude from your list all items in the prohibited category.

The No Objection Certificate (NOC) from FSSAI basically refers to:

  • Samples should be free from fungal infestation and visible insects.
  • Food items should have adequate shelf life at the time of clearance.
  • Compliance with the FSS (Packaging & Labeling) Regulations, 2011, and the product-specific labeling requirements.

Other Documents

Depending upon the actual items being exported there may be a need for:

  • Ministry of Agriculture Permit
  • Ministry of Animal Husbandry permit
  • Narcotics Certificate

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)


Should non-compliance with the rules and regulations of the FSSAI, be detected during an inspection, the Inspecting Official from the FSSAI office may issue an Improvement Notice or even cancel the Food Certificate, depending upon the nature of non-Compliance. Improvement Notices come with guidelines and a timeline for rectification. If these are still not complied with the Food License is suspended. For a Food Exporter this could be disastrous.

  • Basically, you have to consider the requirements imposed by the country at the other end. That said labels should provide:
  • Nutritional facts and information
  • The name of the brand, company, product
  • Product description and ingredients used in the product
  • The volume of contents and net weight
  • The Labeling Language should conform to FSSAI (Packaging & Labeling) Regulations
  • Declaration of a “Best Before” Date
  • Net weight
  • Symbolic Depiction of whether vegetarian / non-vegetarian
  • The name and address of exporter in India.
  • Batch number, code number, lot number, and such Importantly, it should be borne in mind that labeling influences perceptions of quality.

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