Do I Need a License to Import?

Hand holding a paper FDA APPROVED on green background

You are trying to import your product into the United States, when suddenly you are told

Sorry, your import entry has been denied by U.S Customs. You are not approved to import this product! Perplexed  by this news, you ask why not……

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) does not require any license to import; however you might need a permit from other government agencies.

The United States allows any individual  or any company to import. You can import with a federal tax id number or a social security number but certain products may require an additional license.

Additional license is required when other federal government agencies has interest with the product you are importing. Federal agencies like the  Department of Agriculture, Food and Drug Administration (FDA), or Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS).

It is in your best interest to contact U.S Customs before importing.  If you need a license from any other government agency customs can advise you.  U.S. Customs will always check at the time of entry if you need an approval from any other government agencies or any other bureau. The goods you are importing will not be released from customs if any other agency has not approved the entry.

Why I need an approval from other government agencies beside the U.S Customs ?

The item you are importing might have some restriction or  might need a special documentation or might need a special marking on the packaging.

Even a simple product you are importing many years might not permitted into the U.S and entry might denied by a local government agencies for a reason you didn’t think of. For example you are a picture frame importer and you made a new design with a seashell decoration. You imported the picture frames, your shipment arrived into the USA and your broker made an entry for customs clearance. You found out your shipment is held by Fish and Wildlife for an inspection because of the seashells you used for a decoration.

Other agencies may require licensing, special documents or permits. Based on the imported products and it’s use other federal agencies might need to be notified. The items you are importing might be banned or might have some restriction or item might be even prohibited.

Some common items that may require licenses or permits are:

Food products , plant, animal and dairy products, prescription medications, trademarked articles such as name-brand shoes, handbags, luggage, golf clubs, toys, etc. and copyrighted material such as CDs, DVDs and tapes.

The most common government agencies you might need a license prior to import:

 Food and Drug Administration

The FDA is responsible for protecting the public health by assuring the safety, efficacy, and security of human and veterinary drugs, biological products, medical devices, our nations food supply, cosmetics, and products that emit radiation. The FDA also provides accurate, science-based health information to the public.

Main Address:

10903 New Hampshire Avenue
Silver Spring, MD 20993

Toll Free:

1-888-INFO-FDA (1-888-463-6332)

Fish and Wildlife Service

The Fish and Wildlife Service works to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats.

Main Address:

1849 C Street, NW
Washington, DC 20240

Phone Number:


U.S. Department of Agriculture

The Department of Agriculture provides leadership on food, agriculture, natural resources, and related issues.

Main Address:

1400 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20250

Phone Number:


To find the links to other government agencies login on –