This report was prepared by the Office of Agricultural Affairs of the USDA/Foreign Agricultural Affairs Service in Caracas for U.S. exporters of domestic food and agricultural products.
THIS REPORT CONTAINS ASSESSMENTS OF COMMODITY AND TRADE ISSUES MADE BY USDA STAFF AND NOT NECESSARILY STATEMENTS OF OFFICIAL U.S. GOVERNMENT POLICY Required Report - public distribution Date: 6/28/2011 GAIN Report Number: VE1153 Venezuela Food and Agricultural Import Regulations and Standards - Narrative FAIRS Country Report Approved By: Randall Hager Prepared By: Clara Nuñez Report Highlights: This report was prepared by the Office of Agricultural Affairs of the USDA/Foreign Agricultural Affairs Service in Caracas for U.S. exporters of domestic food and agricultural products. While every possible care was taken in its preparation, information provided may not be completely accurate either because policies have changed since its preparation, or because clear and consistent information about these policies was not available. Section I. Food Laws: The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela?s (BRV) legislation governing domestically produced and imported processed food products, beverages, additives, and coloring agents for foods destined for human consumption are contained in the ?General Food Norm.? This general food safety law describes all requirements, including labeling requirements, which processed food products must fulfill in order to be offered to consumers. The norm also requires registration for locally produced and imported processed food products. Complementary norms were established on March 3, 1996 (Official gazette Nº 35,921). The Ministry of Health (MH), through its Health Food Comptroller and the Food Hygiene Division, is responsible for implementation of the Norm. The MH enforces food recalls and recommends to other ministries any ban on local and imported processed food products thought to be harmful to human health. The Ministry of Food (MINAL) is responsible for issuing import permits and licenses. MINAL supervises almost every aspect related to distribution and storage of food for human consumption. The Ministry of Agriculture and Lands (MAT), through its National Institute of Integral Agricultural Health (INSAI), issues phytosanitary and sanitary health import permits for imported products and sub products of plant or animal origin, and animals and plant breeding material. INSAI is similar to USDA?s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. The Ministry of Commerce (MC) is part of an inter-ministerial commission, along with MINAL, MAT, and the MH, that defines the criteria for allowing imports of agricultural and processed food products. Commerce also supervises advertisements dealing with food, food quality, labels and health-related issues through the Autonomous National Service for Standardization, Quality, Metrology and Technical Regulations (Sencamer). Section II. Labeling Requirements: There are currently three sets of documents which serve as sources for labeling requirements in Venezuela. These are: the General Food Norm (Reglamento General de Alimentos), the Law for the Defense of People in the Access for Goods and Services (Chapter VI), and General Standards for Labeling of Canned Foods (Venezuelan Commission for Industrial Norms, COVENIN No. 2952:2001). Beverage alcohol products must be registered with the Ministry of Health. The Ministry of Health oversees processed food labeling in Venezuela. Labeling is mandatory for domestically produced and imported food products. Ministry of Health authorities may require the elimination or modification of any paragraph or phrase concerning a particular product, as well as recommending the addition of any paragraph or phrase they deem necessary. Post provides an informal summary of the relevant information below. For greater detail, please refer to GAIN VE8089. Informal Summary of General Guidelines: Language: All labels must be presented in Spanish. A Spanish translation of the original/foreign label must be authorized by the MH. The approved label must be stamped, sealed or printed with indelible ink. The approved label must be applied to the product prior to export because goods must enter the country in their final presentation. Information on Label: The label must include the following information: Descriptive name of the product Brand name or trademark Net weight or net content (only metric measurements are accepted) List of ingredients in decreasing order Manufactured by (name of company) in (name of city, state, country) Imported by (name of importer/importing company) Special handling and storage requirements to keep the product safe, if any Cooking and oven temperatures must be indicated both in Celsius and Fahrenheit Detailed instructions for preparation or use Expiration date and/ or Minimum shelf life, in a legible, visible and indelible form The MH Registration Number The SNML registration number (metrology registration through SENCAMER) Any other requirement stated by COVENIN norms, General Food Law or special requirements ordered by MH Nutritional Labeling: Only foods for special dietary use are required to include nutrient information on the label (according to the Official Gazette No. 31.106 dated 11-9-1976). Nutritional information must be expressed as a percentage of the recommended daily requirement set by the National Nutrition Institute (INN). Recommended Daily Nutritional Intake (RDIs) may be different from those in the United States. The complete list of RDIs is available at the INN, and is not available on-line. The following additional information must appear on labels for processed foods that are marketed for specific dietary use: Energy value, protein, digestible carbohydrate and fat contents (expressed in grams) Amounts of any nutrients claimed to have special nutritional value For vitamins A and D, nutrient content must be expressed in international units For all other vitamins and minerals nutrient content must be expressed in milligrams or micrograms Energy values must appear in calories Labeling for baby foods: There is no special labeling requirement for baby foods. It is known that the MH is very concerned about the use of modified food starches. Mentioning processes used in modified food starches is strongly recommended at the moment of completing the food registration process. Seasonings, Colorings and Flavorings: Locally produced and imported ingredients that could be used in the formulation or further processing of food products must be registered with the MH. The names of spices used as seasoning, colorings and flavorings of processed food products must be specified in the label. Health Claims: Information about health claims is subject to the MH?s consideration and approval is given on a case-by-case basis. Product that may cause allergies: If a product consists of or includes any of the following food products or ingredients that may cause any allergic reaction, it must be included in the label, with their specific names as follows: Processed food products containing grain gluten (wheat, rye, oats, barley, spelt or any grain hybrid or product) Crustacean and by-products Eggs and by-products Fish and fishery products Soybeans and their products Milk and dairy products, including lactose Nuts and derived products Refund coupons or free offers: Promotions of domestically produced processed food products (free offers and coupons) are allowed if previously notified and approved by the Consumer?s Defense Institute, INDEPABIS. Information about general promotion conditions, valid dates and INDEPABIS? approval number must be affixed to the food product. Foreign countries? free offers or coupons are not valid in Venezuela. Therefore, this should be clearly specified on the Spanish version label, or if the label is printed especially for export, it is necessary to include this statement. Additional information about promotion requirements can be accessed through the following link: http://www.indepabis.gob.ve/ Section III. Packaging and Container Regulations: In general, packaging and container regulations are enforced by SENCAMER, based on COVENIN, the compiling body for technical standards and norms, but they also may follow Codex Alimentarius guidelines. New manufacturing, storage and transportation practices for foods for human consumption were established by the MH through official gazette Nº 38,739, dated August 5, 2007 (which replaced the norms of official gazette Nº 36,081, dated November 7, 1996). Containers, vessels, canning, bottling and packing materials used to handle inputs or finished products should meet the following general requirements: Manufactured with materials suitable for that kind of food such as glass, tin, plastic, paper, cardboard, or another material approved by MH authorities Must not transmit substances to the food beyond the allowed limits under the standards in- force Shall not have been previously used for any different purpose that might contaminate the food Additional information about packaging and container requirements can be accessed through the following link: http://www.sencamer.gob.ve/sencamer/action/normas-find Section IV. Food Additives Regulations: General definitions concerning food additives and contaminants are contained in COVENIN norm No. 910. U.S. exporters should note that some food additives authorized by the Food and Drug Administration in the United States are not authorized in Venezuela, and vice versa. All COVENIN standards can be accessed and downloaded through SENCAMER web page: http://www.sencamer.gob.ve/sencamer/action/normas-find Some general guidelines concerning food additives are: Food additives and contaminant tolerance levels are specified in individual COVENIN food standards. Food additives are approved during registration with the Ministry of Health, using COVENIN standards In the absence of a COVENIN standard for a specific food additive, guidelines from Codex Alimentarius are used and are approved on a case-by-case basis by MH. For sausages, ham, meat and meat products in combination with other foods, the total level of nitrite and nitrate must be indicated. ?Maximum Level of Chemical Residues? is based on Codex Alimentarius guidelines. When monosodium glutamate (MSG) is used, it would be useful for MH?s health registration purposes to specify the level used. Section V. Pesticides and Other Contaminants: All domestically produced and imported pesticides should be registered with INSAI. Venezuela does not have a national standard for pesticide Maximum Residue Levels (MRLs). However, regulations and guidelines concerning manufacturing, marketing and use of pesticides are under the ?General Pesticide Regulations? (Reglamento General de Pesticidas) published in 1968. While there have been no updates to this norm, Codex Alimentarius ?Pesticide Residue Tolerances Guidelines? are generally observed by INSAI. Information about approved pesticides is available through INSAI?s offices. Currently, no government agency has the responsibility or authority to monitor pesticide residues in agricultural and processed food products. If an agricultural or processed food product is suspected of being contaminated with pesticides or similar products, INSAI can recommend its retention until further analysis proves the contrary. INSAI can recommend specific lab analysis to confirm contamination. MAT, MINAL and MH are responsible for enforcing retention. If lab?s results confirm pesticide contamination, products will be destroyed and no indemnification will be granted. Section VI. Other Regulations and Requirements: Documents needed for customs clearance may include, but are not limited to: Customs declaration of value Commercial invoice Bill of lading Certificate of origin Import Pre-Inspection Certificate A Sanitary Certificate is required for all wine, beer, and distilled spirits products imported into Venezuela Animal Products and Unprocessed Plant Products Imported products and sub-products of plant or animal origin, and animals and plant breeding material are subject to the issuance of a phytosanitary permit or sanitary health (SPS) permit from INSAI. INSAI is authorized to restrict or prohibit the importation, marketing, or use of animal and plant products. For these cases, INSAI's ?Standing Technical Advisory Body? will recommend the appropriate course of action on the basis of a risk analysis. The general guidelines for importing animal and plant products are: The importer, exporter or producer should be registered with INSAI. The validity of this registration is indefinite, but it can be cancelled due to non-compliance with dispositions stated by pre-established laws and regulations. Prior to importing animal products and/or unprocessed plant products, importers should request and obtain a phytosanitary or sanitary health (SPS) import permit from INSAI. Specific SPS statements (treatment and other conditions) for each type of product are determined by INSAI on a case-by-case basis. Specific SPS statements are written on the import permit issued by INSAI. INSAI?s sanitary and phytosanitary import permits have a non-renewable period of validity of between 60 and 90 days, depending on the product. Import permits are only used for one shipment and one previously designated port of entry. Every shipment must be accompanied of an import permit issued by INSAI and its corresponding APHIS or FSIS export certificate. The ?remarks? section of the APHIS or FSIS export certificate should include the specific SPS statements, and should be written both in English and Spanish. No product should be loaded in a vessel before the import permit is received and the sanitary statements required in it are written on the APHIS or FSIS export certificate. Import Licenses for Basic Agricultural Products Under its World Trade Organization (WTO) commitments, Venezuela is entitled to administer tariff rate quotas for up to 62 HS code headings. The tariff rate quotas are administered through an import license regime. MINAL is responsible for issuing import licenses, but approval is subject to the concurrence of the ?Inter Ministerial Commission,? which consists of the following ministries: Ministry of Finance (MINFINANZAS), Ministry of Commerce (MC), Ministry of Agriculture and Lands (MAT), Ministry of Food (MINAL), and Ministry of Health (MH). The validity of import licenses for a certain group of food products considered essential, defined by the government, is valid for six-month to one-year periods. Products that will benefit from an ?extended import license? are milk and cream, cheese, sorghum, soybean oil, palm oil, and coconut oil. Import licenses are valid for six months to a year, for certain products. The basic guidelines are: Import licenses are valid for four, six or twelve month periods, and can only be renewed if, on expiry, they have not been used for reasons outside the importer?s control. When applying for a license, local importers are required to submit a monthly list of imports actually realized, indicating volume and value, together with the invoice of the most recent import, also indicating the volume and value of the merchandise in question. The importer must indicate the amount of the allocated quota that remains unused. Local importers are required to obtain a ?certificate of non-domestically produced food product? and a ?certificate of not-sufficient domestically produced food product? from the MC, in order to obtain import licenses. U.S. exporters must consider the long time frames between the process of obtaining an import license, and the final shipment of the product. The process of obtaining an import license is involved and takes a considerable amount of time and resources from the local importer. MINAL has a special office, called the taquilla unica? or one stop shopping, to process import licenses as well as ?certificate of non-domestically produced food product.? For more information, please see GAIN reporting from 2008 and 2009. Table 1. List of products that are subject to import licenses Yellow corn Sorghum Soya beans Palm nuts and kernels Soya bean oil Other oils Palm oil Sunflower seed oil Coconut oil Other vegetable fats and oils Soya bean cake Animal and vegetable fats Degras, yellow grease Milk and cream, not concentrated Milk in powder, not exceeding 1.5 percent fat Whole milk 26 percent Cheese Sugar Cane Source: Official Government Gazettes, various issues, and FAS/Caracas For those products where the licensing system has not yet been implemented (45 products) such as beef, pork and poultry, the BRV restricts the issuance of SPS permits. Additional information can be found in Post?s FAIRS Export Certificate Report. Seeds Import permits for seeds are issued by INSAI, after evaluating pest risk analysis results from their studies. Requirements for pest risk analysis are provided by INSAI on a case-by-case basis. Both locally produced and imported seeds must be registered through the National Seed Service (SENASEN). Guidelines for registering seeds can be accessed through the following web page: http://www.inia.gob.ve/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=585&Itemid=160 Processed Animal Products An FSIS certificate must accompany each shipment of meat and poultry and/or products. Venezuela accepts imports from all FSIS approved plants. All federally inspected meat and poultry plants are eligible to export to Venezuela. As noted above for unprocessed plant products, importers are required to have an import permit before importing meat and poultry products. Certificate requirements of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela are currently included in the FSIS export certificate library: http://www.fsis.usda.gov/Regulations_&_Policies/export_information/index.asp Processed Food Products/ Health Registration All domestically produced and imported processed food products must be registered with the MH, through its Health Food Comptroller and the Food Hygiene Division, before they can be sold to Venezuelan consumers. Although Venezuelan law does not prohibit a foreign exporter from registering food products, a local consultant or agent may prove to be the best resource in order to complete the food registration process. A suggested list of experts in the registry of food products provided by the Venezuelan Chamber of Food, Cavidea, can be found in the Appendix III. This group of experts is member of the Committee of Norms of the Venezuelan Food Industry Chamber (Comité de Normas de la Cámara de la Industria de Alimentos, CONORCA). http://www.cavidea.org/conorca_quienes.asp#tope A general guideline for registering processed food products are: All consumer-ready food products under the following Venezuelan Harmonized Schedule headings HS codes: 03,04,05,16,19,20,21 and 22 are subject to registration. Prior to importing consumer-ready food products, importers should obtain a registration number from the MH. Processed foods not registered in the country of origin cannot be registered in Venezuela. All new-to-market local or foreign processed food products must be submitted for registration before being imported. This new product will be subject to approval for registration by the MH after several lab tests as well as to prove that it is apt for human consumption. The foreign exporter/seller is the owner of the product registration, although authorized importers can proceed with the registration process. The processed food product health registration is valid for five years. Renewals are permitted. The MH would consider exceptions to the registration process for food imported by government entities. If an imported product does not meet the minimum quality standards or does not have a health registration number, it could be confiscated and/or destroyed by MH authorities. Inspection at the point of sale is done by MH and INDEPABIS authorities on a regular basis to determine if imported products are fit for human consumption, have sufficient shelf life, or are thought to have been adulterated. Obtaining a Health Registration Number for Processed Foods - Step by Step In general, registering processed food products (food registration) through MH takes between 30 to 60 working days. However, it may take longer because of the high number of applications. The following is a guideline of the step-by-step process: ? Fill out an application for the Health or Sanitary Registration for Food (SIE 5 197) from the MH. Documents accompanying the application, certificate of free sale and the authorization or a power of attorney to a representative or a local consultant or agent, must be issued by foreign authorities, translated into Spanish and ?apostilled? or stamped (as per The Hague Convention on Foreign Public Documents). ? A certificate of free sale and consumption issued by competent authorities in the country of origin, which state that the food has been authorized for human consumption, or for processing, or for use as an input in food for human consumption in the country of origin, with a period of validity of 12 months from the date of application (as previously said, apostilled by a Notary Public.) ? Certificate of chemical, physical and microbiological test conducted by an accredited lab in the country of origin (endorsed by USDA.) ? A power of attorney, authorizing the Venezuelan representative to apply for health registration of the product in Venezuela (also apostilled by a Notary Public.) ? A letter of authorization from the Venezuelan representative, if a third party is requesting the health registration on his/her behalf ? One sample of the food product ? Three copies of the original labels and packages used to market the product in the country of origin; likewise three examples of the label, in Spanish, that will be used in Venezuela. Labels should include the following information: a. Descriptive name of the product b. Trademark c. Net weight d. Net contain e. List of ingredients in the manufacture of the product, in descending order f. Manufacture by?., in?. g. Imported by?.. h. Registered in Ministry of Health under number? In the case of food products that require special storage conditions, these should be clearly indicated ? Any other requirement listed by COVENIN standards, the General food Norms, or specifications of MH ? List of ingredients, including additives, colors and preservatives Once all documents are submitted, the MH gives authorization to conduct the corresponding laboratory testing for each of the food products to be registered. For meat, poultry, and dairy products lab tests must be conducted in the BRV?s main lab ?Instituto Nacional de Higiene Rafael Rangel.? For all other processed food products, the MH designates (on a case-by-case basis) an accredited private lab to conduct food testing. Lab results are submitted directly to MH. If the lab results are considered satisfactory, the MH will assign a health registration number. Health registration numbers are published in the official gazette. Samples for Registration Process As part of the health registration process, the U.S. exporter or Venezuelan importer must submit samples (generally no more than three) of each product/model for which a registration is being sought to MH?s previously designated and accredited Venezuelan laboratory. Samples without commercial value should meet the following requirements in order to obtain exemption from the payment of import duties and value-added tax: Sender needs to be the producer of the product, its representative, or the authorized exporter The addressee shall be a company or an importer with experience in this activity All documentation (commercial invoices, transportation invoices or others) shall contain annotations demonstrating that the products are samples without commercial value Samples should be identified as having no commercial value. It is advisable to mark the package with the following wording ?Muestras sin valor commercial para su registro en el Ministerio de Salud? (Samples without commercial value for registration with the MH). Section VII. Other Specific Standards: Exchange Rate Policy Since early 2003, strict control policies govern and limit foreign exchange transactions. Currency trading is illegal and all import transactions must be approved by the government?s foreign exchange administration commission (CADIVI). Importers must register with CADIVI for formal applications for foreign currency transactions. When approved, the transactions are then liquidated through the Central Bank and finally through commercial banks. A complete list of imported agricultural products that can be imported at the official foreign exchange rate can be found at: http://www.cadivi.gob.ve, the list should be checked periodically as products are added or removed by CADIVI without previous notice. Currently, the exchange rate is set at Bs. 4.30/US$. Price Controls Since January 2003, the BRV imposed a price control policy on basic food and processed food products. The MAT, MINAL, MC, and MINFINANZAS are responsible for recommending changes to the controlled-price list. Changes to the list of food products under price controls include: a) adding or removing products from the list, and b) increasing or lowering prices of certain food products. It is important for exporters to check the list of products under price controls and their current prices, as it changes periodically. For the current list of products subject to price controls, refer to Appendix B. Import Tax exoneration for Basic Products As of February 21, 2008, the import tax exoneration for certain agricultural and processed food products is permanent. Products of ?first necessity,? to Venezuela?s consumers (normally part of the basic staple basket of food products, per Official Gazette Nº 38,875, dated 02/21/08) are so classified. The import tax exoneration was implemented for the first time in January 28, 2003. It has been renewed every six months and products on the original list have changed since then. Currently, MINAL and MINFINANZAS are responsible for reviewing and updating the list of products, with the recommendations of the ?Interministerial Commission.? Table 2. List of Products Exempted from Import Tax Live bovine animals Meat of bovine animals, fresh, Powdered milk, infant formula chilled, frozen, including and soy-based infant formula boneless Durum wheat and other wheat Potato seeds Sugar cane seed for sowing Oilseeds (soybean, sunflower, White and yellow corn seed Vegetables, for sowing: onion, cottonseed and palm nuts and for sowing broccoli, carrot, lettuce, and kernels) for sowing tomato Dry beans, peas and lentils, for Dry beans, peas and lentils Protein concentrates and sowing textured protein substances Source: Official Government Gazettes, various issues, and FAS/Caracas Value Added Tax The BRV through the National Integrated Tax Administration Service (SENIAT) applies a flat 12 percent Value Added Tax (VAT) on sales of domestically produced and imported food products. The VAT applied to imports is based on the total customs value. Certain food products from the basic food basket are VAT exempted. Table 3. List of Products Exempted from VAT Rice Coffee, beans or grounded Milk, soy-bases All flours, of vegetable origin Tuna, canned, natural Cheese, white, hard Bread and pasta Sardines, canned Margarine and butter Eggs Milk, crude or pasteurized Poultry, fresh or frozen Salt Milk, powdered Certified seeds Sugar Milk, infant formulas Vegetables Source: Official Government Gazettes, various issues and FAS/Caracas Genetically Modified Organisms Venezuela follows Andean Community Decisions Nº 391 and 345, which establishes a common regime for access to genetic resources. Venezuela published in the Official Gazette Nº 5,468 of May 24, 2000 its Biodiversity Law (Ley de Biodiversidad Biologica), which creates a national office for biodiversity. The Ministry of Environment has the authority to oversee all genetically modified organisms. However, there are no specific guidelines for registering genetically modified foods or food products. Section VIII. Copyright and/or Trademark Laws: The Intellectual Property Registration Institute (SAPI) is responsible for intellectual property rights administration in Venezuela. While Venezuela is a member of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and remains signatory to various international intellectual property agreements, until recently it applied Andean Community regulations. Through Andean Community Decision 486, Venezuela ratified the provisions of the WTO Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). Brand Name and Trademark Registration Process All brand names and trademarks of local and imported processed food products to be sold in Venezuela must be registered with SAPI. Usually, brand name and trademark registrations are among the services provided by specialized law firms in Venezuela. The procedures for the registry of brands could be found at the following link: http://www.sapi.gob.ve/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=20%3Aprocedimiento-del-registro- de-marcas&catid=8%3Amarcas&Itemid=1 The basic guidelines for registration of brand names and trademarks are: Prior to registering, a name search should be conducted Approval or rejection of a brand name is based on phonetics and spelling matches with brands for similar products Approved and registered brand names are published in quarterly SAPI bulletins All the documents relating to patents, designs, trademarks, etc. are published in the Industrial Property Bulletin The process takes from three to six months to be completed Section IX. Import Procedures: The BRV has implemented the United Nations Custom Computerized System (SIDUNEA) in the majority of Venezuelan ports of entry. With this system, clearing customs takes approximately five to eight working days. By law, only nationals and private custom agencies with Venezuelan local staff are entitled to conduct customs procedures. A custom agent assesses customs, port charges, and taxes as well as fills out paperwork forms. Generally, the custom agent?s fee is one percent of the CIF value, plus any other charges accrued during offloading. All imported goods presented at the ports of entry must be officially declared to SENIAT authorities within five days of arrival. Fines may be levied and applied to any shipment when the customs entry is made later than five days after the date of arrival. When an importer either delays or refuses to claim a product arriving in Venezuelan ports, SENIAT will impound the goods not claimed, and, if steep fines and storage fees are not promptly paid, sell the goods at auction. All shipments must be made on a direct consignment basis. Customs regulations stipulate that the consignee is the owner of the shipment and is responsible for all customs payments. Importers must register all of their products with the MH?s Health Food Comptroller Division prior to placing the product on the Venezuelan market. Import Duties Import duties are calculated using the WTO Harmonized Scheduled Tariff classification system on the CIF value of the products (using the commercial invoice as basis). Import duties are assessed, due and payable at time of arrival. Import duties and fees are assessed in local currency; despite the currency listed on the commercial invoice. The VAT rate of twelve percent is calculated on the basis of the CIF value. Customs Fees SENIAT charges one percent of the CIF value for processing shipments and for the use of the port of entry. In some cases an additional stamp fee is added to offset the cost of processing these imports. Both the SENIAT Customs & Port Fee and Customs Stamp Fee are calculated on CIF value. Inspections Products are inspected by MH and/or INSAI officers, as applicable, according to the type of product being imported. MH inspects processed products, while INSAI inspects non-processed animal and plant origin products. Regardless of the type of agricultural and processed food products, all imports are subject to inspection by SENIAT, the National Guard (Guardia Nacional), and the Anti-Drug Command (Comando Antidroga). There are no inspection fees. Control of products at Port of Entry levels The General Food Law authorizes MH, INSAI, the National Guard, and SENIAT authorities with the power to reject, confiscate, or destroy imported food and agricultural products if: Documentation is incomplete Permits are invalid The product is determined to be unfit for human consumption The product has insufficient shelf life The product is thought to have been adulterated If the cargo is rejected, it can be temporarily stored at the port of entry at the importer?s expense until the appeals procedures have been completed. In cases where imports are confiscated or destroyed because they have been judged by competent authorities to be unfit for consumption, importers are not eligible for compensation. Below is a list of procedures which must be completed to clear the products at the port of entry: ? Incoming shipments must be inspected by an agent of the National Integrated Tax Administration Service (Seniat). SENIAT will compare the contents of the shipment to ensure that they conform to the invoices, packing lists, and other shipping documents. ? The goods are inspected by the MH. ? A SENIAT appraiser compares the declared invoice price with international prices to monitor for evidence of dumping or tax evasion. ? A customs agent assesses customs, port charges, and taxes and completes a liquidation form. ? The liquidation form, accompanied by the required MH import permits, is stamped by SENIAT and port authorities. ? The customs agency deposits the amount due in a SENIAT account in a local bank and presents the deposit slip to SENIAT and port authorities to obtain final clearance. ? The merchandise is then released by customs. Document Requirements According to Venezuelan customs regulations, all imports should be warehoused at the port of entry while customs clearance is being completed. All shippers are urged to provide all documents tendered for customs purposes in Spanish to avoid processing delays. The documents needed for customs clearance include: Customs declaration of value Commercial invoice (no photocopies accepted) Insurance and Freight must be listed separately on the commercial invoice Bill of lading Certificate of origin Shipment manifest Sanitary or phytosanitary certificate, if required Import license, if required Appendix I. Government Regulatory Agency Contacts: Ministerio del Poder Popular para la Salud (Ministry of Health) Av. Baralt, Centro Simón Bolívar, Edificio Sur El Silencio, Caracas Tel: (58-212) 408-0000 http://www.mpps.gob.ve División Higiene de los Alimentos (Food Registration) Ministerio del Poder Popular para la Salud Av. Baralt, Centro Simón Bolívar, Edificio Sur, piso 3 El Silencio, Caracas Tel: (58-212) 408-1533/ 484-3066 Fax: (58-212) 483-1533 http://www.mpps.gob.ve Instituto Nacional de Nutrición-INN Av. Baralt, Esquina El Carmen Edificio INN El Silencio, Caracas Tel: (58-212) 482-6473 http://www.inn.gob.ve Instituto Nacional de Higiene "Rafael Rangel" Ciudad Universitaria, Detrás Hospital Clínico Universidad Central de Venezuela Los Chaguaramos, Caracas Tel: (58-212) 693-1229/662-5074 Fax: (58-212) 693-4967 http://www.inhrr.gob.ve Ministerio del Poder Popular para la Alimentación (Ministry of Food) Av. Andrés Bello - Edificio ?Las Fundaciones? Municipio Libertador, Caracas Tel: (58-212) 577-0257 Fax: (58-212) 578-2647 http://www.minal.gob.ve Email address of Public Relations: firstname.lastname@example.org Ministerio de Agricultura y Tierras (Ministry of Agriculture) Av. Urdaneta, Edificio ?MAT? Esquina de Platanal a Candilito La Candelaria, Caracas Tel: (58-212) 509-0347/ 0348/ 0359/ 0360/ 0361 http://www.mat.gob.ve Instituto Nacional de Salud Agrícola Integral-INSAI Av. Francisco Solano López cruce con calle Pascual Navarro Edificio Torre Banvenez, pisos12, 13 y 14 Sabana Grande - Caracas Tel: (58-212) 705-3416 http://www.insai.gob.ve/ Servicio Nacional de Semillas-SENASEM Av. Universidad, Vía El Limón, Edificio INIA Maracay, Edo. Aragua. Tel: (243) 240-4962/ 240-4911. E-mail: email@example.com http://www.senasem.gob.ve Ministerio del Poder Popular para el Comercio (Ministry of Commerce) Av. Lecuna, Torre Oeste de Parque Central Entrada Nivel Lecuna - Caracas Tel. (58-212)-509-6861 http://www.mincomercio.gob.ve/ Servicio Autónomo Nacional de Normalización, Calidad, Metrología y Reglamentos Técnicos-SENCAMER Av. Libertador, C.C. Los Cedros, Planta Baja La Florida, Caracas Tel: (58-212) 761-6474 http://www.sencamer.gob.ve Servicio Autónomo de la Propiedad Industrial-SAPI Centro Simón Bolívar, Edificio Norte, Piso 4 El Silencio, Caracas Tel: (58-212) 481-6478 Fax (58-212) 483-1391 http://www.sapi.gob.ve Instituto para la Defensa de las Personas en el Acceso a los Bienes y Servicios-INDEPABIS Av. Libertador, C.C. Los Cedros, Planta Baja La Florida, Caracas Tel: (58-212) (0-800-7325262)/ 212-705-3000 http://www.indepabis.gob.ve/ Servicio Nacional Integrado de Administración Aduanera y Tributaria-SENIAT Av. Blandín, C.C. Mata de Coco, Torre SENIAT La Castellana, Caracas Tel: (58-212) 274-4000/ 274-4026 http://www.seniat.gob.ve Comisión de Administración de Divisas-CADIVI Av. Leonardo Da Vinci, Edificio PDVSA, Piso 3 Los Chaguaramos, Caracas Tel: (58-212) 606-3939 http://www.cadivi.gob.ve Appendix II. Other Import Specialist Contacts: Venamcham Venezuelan-American Chamber of Industry and Commerce 2da.Av. de Campo Alegre, Torre Credival, Piso 10, Ofic.A, Caracas 1060, Venezuela Tel: (58-212) 263-0833/267-20-76/64-81 Fax: (58-212) 263-20-60 http://www.venamcham.org.ve ANSA (Asociación Nacional de Supermercados y Autoservicios) National Supermarket Association Av. Principal de los Ruices Centro Empresarial Los Ruices, Piso 1, Ofic. 116 Caracas 1071, Venezuela Tel: (58-212) 234-4490 / 235-7558 Fax: (58-212) 238-0308 http://www.ansa.com.ve CAVIDEA (Cámara Venezolana de la Industria de Alimentos) Venezuelan Food Industry Chamber Ave. Principal de los Ruices Centro Empresarial Los Ruices, Piso 5, Ofic. 510 Caracas 1071, Venezuela Tel: (58-212) 237-6183 Fax: (58-212) 237-9918 http://www.cavidea.org.ve USDA/ FAS CARACAS OFFICE CONTACT INFORMATION: Office of the Agricultural Counselor/ American Embassy Calle F c/c Suapure, Colinas de Valle Arriba Caracas, 1070, Venezuela Tel: (58-212) 907-8333 Fax: (58-212) 907-8542 Email: AgCaracas@fas.usda.gov Web page: http://caracas.usembassy.gov/ Agricultural Counselor: Randall Hager Unit 3140 Box 240 DPO AA 34037-0240 Author Defined: Appendix III Members of CONORCA- Committee of Norms of the Venezuelan Food Industry Chamber (Comité de Normas de la Cámara de la Industria de Alimentos, CONORCA) http://www.cavidea.org/conorca_quienes.asp#