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Shipping Food to the U.S.A.

Based on the Bioterrorism Law, the U.S. government is enforcing the inspection of postal mail containing (or possibly containing) food as of December 2003. You are, therefore, requested to observe the following when submitting mail to a post office. Please read the information provided below carefully before submission since these conditions vary according to the shipping purposes.
Please be advised that these articles may be confiscated, discarded, or returned if it takes longer for U.S. Customs to inspect them, if they consider these articles a danger to the health of people and animals in America, or if U.S. Customs deems the shipping a malicious act.

Shipping food for commercial use

When shipping food for commercial use (the purpose is to sell or distribute the food in the U.S.A.), Prior Notice must be sent to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and a Prior Notice Confirmation Number (PN Number) must be obtained. After the PN Number has been obtained, follow the instructions below to properly indicate the number on your Customs Declaration Form.

Rice crackers (Non-commercial use)
“Rice crackers PN No. XXXXX.”

How to Obtain the PN Number

You can obtain the PN Number by accessing the Prior Notice System Interface (PNSI, via the FDA Web site. After you have registered the required information online, including addresses and names of the sender and the recipient, the name of the food product, the name of the food manufacturer, the country where the product was manufactured, and the quantity shipped, the FDA issues the PN Number for the product,which you can enter on the Customs Declaration Form.

FDA Website (external link)

FDA Prior Notice Guidance (external link, Japanese)

Shipping food for personal use (noncommercial)

For food that is sent from an individual to another individual for personal use, the PN Number is currently not required. However, you must fill out the Customs Declaration Form correctly with a clear indication that it is for non-commercial use (personal use).

Rice crackers (Non-commercial use)
Example: “Rice crackers (Non-commercial use)”

Example (for those with a PN Number):
“Rice crackers PN No. XXXXX (Non-commercial use)” The following cases are also considered for personal use:When a parent mails food to a child studying in America;when a company (the sender must be an individual) mails food to colleagues stationed in America;
or when the food is addressed to family members or acquaintances living in America.

  • Please note that if a company or store name appears in the sender field, it will not be deemed “an individual” according to the provisions of the Bioterrorism Law, even if it is actually an individual who purchased and mailed the item.
  • For homemade food, the PN Number is not required, provided it is a gift.

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