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Detailed procedures for importing pet food

I. Introduction to Pet Food Products

The pet food market is a large and diverse industry with a wide and growing range of products. With the increasing demand for high-quality products, the pet food industry presents business opportunities worldwide. Pet food is a prevalent product among pet owners, and the import of pet food has become a significant aspect of international trade.

In recent years, Asia, particularly countries like China, Japan, and South Korea, has emerged as a key market for the pet food industry. Vietnam, in Southeast Asia, is also witnessing a rising trend in pet ownership, leading to an increased demand for imported pet food.

This article provides a detailed guide on the procedures and documentation required for the legal, safe, and accurate import of pet food.

Thức ăn thú cưng

II. Regulations on Pet Food Import

According to Circular 25/2016/TT-BNNPTNT issued by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, animal-origin pet food is subject to animal quarantine upon import. Plant-origin pet food is subject to plant quarantine as per Circular 30/2014/TT-BNNPTNT.

Furthermore, based on Decree 39/2017/ND-CP and Circular 28/2017/TT-BNNPTNT, pet food falls under the category of products that need quality inspection before customs clearance.

III. HS Code and Tariffs for Pet Food

The Harmonized System (HS) code for pet food is 2309.

The import tax rate for pet food is 7%.

HS Code
HS Code

IV. Requirements for Pet Food Import

Pet food imports are categorized into two types: those already in the approved list for importation and those not yet listed.

For products already approved, each import shipment must undergo a Quality Confirmation Inspection. For products not yet approved, an import license is required.

Here are the detailed procedures for each:

1. Import License for Pet Food

For pet food not listed in the approved import list, the following documents are required for obtaining an import license:

  • Import registration form approved by the Vietnamese authorities

  • Legally certified Certificate of Free Sale (CFS) from the consular office

  • One of the following certificates: ISO, GMP, HACCP

  • Detailed product composition

  • Sample product label

  • Certificate of Analysis for quality and safety testing

The processing time for this application is approximately 20 days from the date the Department of Animal Husbandry receives all required documents.

2. Animal Quarantine for Pet Food

According to Decision 45/2005/QD-BNN issued by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development on July 25, 2005, pet food is subject to animal quarantine. The quarantine process must be initiated during the shipment's arrival at the port or airport.

Documents required for animal quarantine:

  • Health Certificate for animals issued by the exporting country

  • Registration dossier for animal quarantine as per Article 45 of the Veterinary Law

  • Bill of lading

The quarantine process takes about 3 days from the submission date. After completion, the shipment can be stored in a warehouse awaiting quality inspection.

3. Quality Inspection for Pet Food

According to Circular 66/2011/TT-BNNPTNT issued by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development on October 10, 2011, products with animal origins require quality inspections.

Documents required for quality inspection:

  • Sales contract

  • Packing list

  • Commercial invoice

  • Certificate of Analysis for product quality and safety testing

The Department of Animal Husbandry will inspect, confirm, and notify the business about the inspection details, timing, and location within 3 working days. The certificate confirming the quality inspection will be issued within 7 working days from the document submission date.

V. Documentation for Pet Food Import Procedures

As per the regulations outlined in Section 5, Article 1 of Circular 39/2018/TT-BTC (amending and supplementing Article 16 of Circular 38/2015/TT-BTC) by the Ministry of Finance, the following documents are required for customs procedures:

  • Customs declaration form: 1 original copy

  • Sales contract: 1 copy

  • Commercial invoice: 1 copy

  • Transport document: 1 copy

  • Packing list: 1 copy

  • Certificate of Analysis (COA): 1 copy

  • Standards of the importing facility: 1 copy

  • Registration certificate for quality inspection, business registration or production registration: 1 copy

  • Letter to bring goods to the storage facility: 1 original copy (used when a business intends to store goods while waiting for inspection results to reduce storage costs)

VI. Customs Import Procedures for Pet Food

Import procedures at the destination country must be carried out:

  • Register for quality inspection: This registration is done on the national one-stop system. After approval, print the registration form and submit it to the animal quarantine office. (Note: The registration for quality inspection is done concurrently with the registration for quarantine. After receiving the inspection application, submit it to the animal quarantine office).

  • Based on the information on the commercial documents, declare the customs entry according to current regulations, using the ECUS5 VNACCS electronic customs software.

  • After transmitting the declaration electronically, print the declaration and accompanying documents to submit to the customs office for registration. Depending on the result of the declaration classification (Green Lane, Yellow Lane, or Red Lane), determine the next steps.

  • Green Lane: Clearance is immediate; fulfill tax obligations and proceed to collect the goods.

  • Yellow Lane: Submit paperwork for customs inspection.

  • Red Lane: Both paperwork and physical inspection are required. After completion, proceed to collect the goods.

  • After sampling at the port (or if the goods are taken to the warehouse and the authorities are informed to take samples), wait for the inspection results. If the results meet the requirements, supplement the results for customs clearance.

VII. Frequently Asked Questions about Pet Food Import Customs Procedures

  1. Can I bring pet food for personal use without going through the import process?

  • Yes, you can bring a limited quantity of pet food for personal use when traveling with your pet. However, for larger quantities or commercial purposes, the formal import procedure is required.

  1. What are the penalties for not complying with import regulations?

  • Non-compliance with import regulations can lead to fines, confiscation of goods, or legal actions. It is crucial to adhere to all requirements to avoid such consequences.

  1. Are there any restrictions on specific ingredients in pet food?

  • Yes, certain ingredients may be restricted or prohibited in pet food. It is essential to check the approved ingredient list to ensure compliance.

  1. How long does the import process usually take?

  • The duration of the import process varies depending on factors such as document completeness and customs procedures. On average, it may take a few weeks to complete.

  1. Can I import homemade pet food?

  • Homemade pet food must adhere to import regulations similar to commercially produced pet food. Ensure that it meets all safety and labeling requirements.

  1. Are there any exemptions for guide dogs or service animals?

  • Guide dogs and service animals may have specific exemptions or reasonable procedures. Check with relevant authorities for guidance in such cases.

Contact us: H-CARGO INTERNATIONAL LOGISTICS  Head office: 36A Nguyen Gia Tri St., Ward 25, Binh Thanh Dist., HCMC, Vietnam Hotline: +84 283 5359 678 ​ Email:


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