Although most of the goods can freely enter the American territory, procedures must be respected to ensure all products comply with the American standards.
Farm products are subject to both the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) and the USDA (US AGRICULTURAL DEPARTMENT) rules.
- Dairy products require an import license and quotas do exist. Products should conform to the strict sanitary and labelling rules, a description of ingredients is also required.
- Most fruits, vegetables and hazelnuts are subject to import licenses. The APHIS (Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service) analyses the risks of disease.
- Meat-based products can only be imported via ports with checking sanitary installations authorised by the USDA. The APHIS examines all goods.
Nearly 20% of all imports into the US are food and food products. In 2002 Congress passed the Bioterrorism Act as a part of its ongoing effort to fight terrorism. The Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act of 2002 (Bioterrorism Act) requires that FDA develops two systems: one to support the registration of facilities that manufacture, process, pack, or hold food products intended for consumption in the United States and one to receive prior notice before food is imported or offered for import into the United States, beginning on December 12, 2003. Prior notice must be submitted electronically at http://www.access.fda.gov/.
Manufactured goods should also conform the American standards, which implies potential additional costs. Electric equipment should be systematically guaranteed by a third part (the opposite of auto-certification and "after" market controls used in a lot of countries of the world). There are not less than 2,700 municipal or federal authorities able to distribute safety certifications, and they do vary from State to State. As there is no central source of information about the normative aspects, it is imperative to inquire beforehand with the help of an importer.
Whatever the nature of the product is, documentation is important, especially in terms of invoice and certificate of origin (as the EU origin is not being recognised, European exporters should be able to justify the origin of their product under the name of the appropriate country and supply extra documentation). The documentary formalities are notably very heavy for textiles import (above a part of 5 % in the composition of the textiled product, all the products should be listed very precisely). The labelling rules can also generate important additional costs.
Finally the USA apply a certain number of embargoes, forbidding the import of products manufactured with components originating from the following countries: Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Sudan, Angola, Yugoslavia and Afghanistan.