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Food Import in China

On April 12, 2021, the General Administration of Customs of China (GACC) reviewed the law applicable to the food import in China and issued the Regulation no. 248 “New version of Registration and Management Rules of Overseas Manufacturers of Imported Food” and the Regulation no. 249 “New version of Administrative Rules on Imported Food Safety”. Both regulations came into force on January 1, 2022.

According to the new Regulation no. 248 all those who are intended to export food in China, regardless of the relevant food category, shall be registered at GACC, while under the previous legislation only overseas manufacturers of meat products, acquatic products, dairy products (including infant formula) were required to apply for registration. The certificate of registration lasts 5 years, renewables.

Registration shall be conducted online through a platform called “single window”:

Different food categories need to apply for different types of GACC registration, Each type of GACC registration process, application document requirements, time and cost are different; Each of the food category and facility address requires a separate GACC registration number.

There are 3 types of GACC registration:

GACC-1-1: GACC registration for Low Risk Food Manufacturer: registration cost $400-$600, time need 2-4 weeks.

GACC-1-2: GACC registration for Medium Risk Food Producer: registration cost $1,000, time need 2-5 months.

GACC-1-3: GACC registration for High Risk Food Producer: registration cost $3,000-$30,000, time need about 1 year.

GACC-2-1: General GACC registration for Overseas Exporter: registration cost $400-$600, time need 1-2 weeks.

GACC-3-1: GACC registration for Chinese importers: registration cost $1,000-$1,500, time need 1 month.

If the overseas company of imported food does not have a branch in China, should appoint a CRA (Chinese Representative Agent) to apply for GACC registration.

To see the detailed food categories click here:

The Regulation no. 249 provides for several food safety obligations such as products labelling, audits and inspection within the country of origin of the products.

For example, concerning labelling of frozen meat and acquatic products language shall be Chinese and English or Chinese and the mother tongue of the exporting country. Label must be printed on the packaging (not affixed in sticker format on the original packaging) for all special dietary products, including infant formula foods, infant complementary foods, foods for special medical purposes, nutrition supplementary foods, sport nutrition and nutrition supplementary foods for pregnant women.

Regulation no. 249 also allowed remote video inspection conducted by the GACC.

On December 13, 2021 the GACC issued the Announcement No. 103/2021, clarifying that starting from January 1, 2022, it will be mandatory to indicate the registration number released by the Chinese authority in the section “Product Qualifications” of the import declaration form submitted during the customs clearance. In case of failure to satisfy this requirement, the customs authority will reject the import declaration.

Registration number shall also be printed on both the external (transport packaging) and internal (minimum sale unit) packaging of products manufactured from Januray 1, 2022.

Avv. Lifang Dong and Avv. Chiara Civitelli

The content of this article does not constitute legal advice, but has an informative function. For tailor made legal advice, contact the firm by e-mail to: or by phone +39 06 916505710. © Dong & Partners International Law Firm, All rights reserved.

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