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United States Department of Agriculture

Foreign Agricultural Service
Caribbean Basin Agricultural Trade Office

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  Market Access


Foreign Import Requirements

Caribbean Food and Agricultural Import Regulations and Standards (FAIRS) reports contain, by country, descriptions of import procedures and lists of useful contacts to help get your product into the market. These reports are available via the Global Agricultural Information Network (GAIN), a searchable online database, and published under the Exporter Assistance options FAIRS product specific reports and Foods and Agricultural Import Regulations reports. (USDA – Foreign Agricultural Service)

The USDA-Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS)’s International Affairs office offers guidance on Exporting Products that includes an export certification checklist, requirements for meat, poultry and processed egg products, and export related policies.  Country-specific requirements for Meat and Poultry Products are provided in its Export Library - Requirements by Country.  (USDA – Food Safety and Inspection Service)

The USDA-Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), Veterinary Services (VS) has created the International Animal Product Export Regulations (IREGS) to provide exporters with our best understanding of importing countries requirements for certain animal-origin products in its International Animal Products Export Regulations – Country specific requirements are identified by Animal Products. (USDA – Animal Plant Health Inspection Service)

The APHIS-Plant Protection and Quarantine Service (PPQ) provides through its PPQ Export Index access to a number of databases, including EXCERPT, which contains phytosanitary regulations for more than 200 countries. (USDA – Animal Plant Health Inspection Service)

The Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) provides export certification and verification services in support of American exporters by ensuring that U.S. products meet specific export requirements for countries around the world.  Export Certificates are issued under verification programs AMS administers such as for Organic Certification, Dairy, and Eggs and Egg Products.  (USDA – Agricultural Marketing Service)

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Office of International Programs provides exporters with an interpretation and understanding of the implementation of the provisions of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act), which relates to the safety of food, drugs, and cosmetics.

To firms exporting products from the United States who are asked by foreign customers or foreign governments to supply an "export certificate" for products regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, FDA notes that:

·   FDA does not require that you obtain an export certificate

·   FDA is not required by law to issue export certificates (although the agency intends to continue to provide this service as resources permit)

·   FDA does not issue certificates for food manufactured outside the United States  

If you export food, it is your responsibility to:

·   Follow U.S. laws and regulations

·   Follow the requirements of the countries to which you export 

FDA notes that a “Certificate of Free Sale” is a certificate (not pertaining to a particular production lot or export consignment) that indicates that the particular product(s) is marketed in the United States or eligible for export, and that the particular manufacturer has no unresolved enforcement actions pending before or taken by FDA. These certificates may be issued by FDA-CFSAN or by a State governmental authority. 

A Certificate of Free Sale Point of Contact List is available from USDA/FAS at:

The U.S. Department of Commerce’ (USDC) National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) oversees fisheries management in the United States.  Under authority in the 1946 Agricultural Marketing Act, the NOAA Seafood Inspection Program provides inspection services for fish, shellfish, and fishery products to the industry. The NOAA Seafood Inspection Program is often referred to as the U.S. Department of Commerce (USDC) Seafood Inspection Program and uses marks and documents bearing the USDC moniker. 

The NOAA Seafood Inspection Program offers a variety of professional inspection services on a fee-for-service basis which assure compliance with all applicable food regulations. More information on seafood export certification is available at:  Seafood Inspection Program


The AMS-Transportation Services Branch (TSB) Transportation Research and Analysis service provides exporters with an understanding of the transportation options, cost factors, and technical considerations associated with export transportation of high-valued and value-added agricultural products.  (USDA – Agricultural Marketing Service)

Export Administration Regulations relevant to trade with Cuba

The USDC-Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) regulates exports to Cuba.  Any person seeking to ship any goods, including samples, from the United States to Cuba directly or indirectly, must first obtain authorization from BIS.  Information related to BIS regulations on license and trade to countries subject to the Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act of 2000 follow: Exports and Re-exports to Cuba under the Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act

The U.S. Treasury Department’s (USTD) Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) administers the Cuban Assets Control Regulations that regulate travel to Cuba and use of dollars by travelers in Cuba.  The OFAC Cuba webpage offers an overview of Cuban assets control regulations and guidelines and information on the Cuba sanctions program, including information on rules related to use of dollars by travelers and permitted travel.  Answers to Frequently Asked Questions Related to Cuba were updated on September 18, 2015.

Product Classification for Tariff and Tax Purposes

The Harmonized System  - The international Harmonized System (HS) is administrated by the World Customs Organization and serves as the foundation for the import and export classification systems used in the United States. The United States (U.S.) import classification system, the Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS) administered by the U.S. International Trade Administration Commission (USITC), and the U.S. export classification system, the Schedule B administered by the U.S. Census Bureau, Foreign Trade Division, both rely on the international HS codes for their 4- and 6-digit headings and subheadings. The World Customs Organization updates the HS System approximately every five years. The year 2012 marked the most recent HS revision, meaning the next revision will not be due until 2017.

Since greater commodity detail are needed than the 4- and 6-digit HS headings and subheadings, Harmonized System (HS) codes under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS) and Schedule B classification systems expand their scope to 10 digits. HS numbers and Schedule B numbers will be the same up to the first 6 digits as the importing country's classification code.




Related Topics




FAS Office

Caribbean Region Countries



This page was last updated: 02/06/2018