Egypt: New mandatory license for all entities involved in any importation of food

In brief

What has changed

On 16 July 2020, the Board of Directors of the National Food and Safety Authority ("NFSA") issued a decision No. 6 for 2020 setting rules for regulating the importation of food in Egypt (the "Decision"). Before the issuance of this Decision, imported food was subject to the general standard requirements of importation license. However, this Decision prohibited any food facility or food importer, whether a natural person or a company to undertake any activity of food importation without obtaining the prior license from the NFSA.


Recommended action

  • All food importers (whether for use (e.g. manufacturing facility) or resale) have to comply and submit an application to obtain the required license in order to avoid disruption of their business.
  • All food importers have to ensure that their operations are in all times complaint with the applicable laws and regulations. Otherwise, this license might be revoked by the NFSA.

What has changed

As stated, the Decision aims to regulate the importation of food to Egypt in order to ensure the safety and quality of imported food.

Accordingly, the Decision established this new license and stated clearly the procedures and the steps for to obtain the required food importation license.

According to the Decision food is defined broadly to include any product or material subject to human consumption, whether it is a primary, raw, or uncooked material, wholly or partially manufactured or semi-manufactured or unprocessed, including drinks and bottled water or added to food and any material containing water and chewing gum.

This definition does not include feeds, plants and crops before they are harvested, live animals and birds before entering the slaughterhouse, marine organisms and farm fish before they are caught, medicinal products and cosmetics, tobacco and its products, narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances. The Decision also does not apply to "food related substances" which is defined as any substance related to food, or produced for the purpose of contact with food, such as containers, covers and packages.

What it means for you

The license requirement under the Decision is addressed to all entities regardless their purpose of establishment which are engaged in food importation. The Decision granted existing companies and importers engaged in those activities a grade period of six months starting July 17, 2020 (ending around mid January 2021).

The license request can be submitted in writing or electronically on the license form along with other documents and information such as:

  • The name of the importer, the importer's representative or commercial agent,
  • The name of the entity, the trademark ownership and its commercial name,
  • The commercial register of the entity, its articles of association, tax card and importation license.
  • The company must have a legal presence in Egypt,
  • Contact details of the company including the address and the email and the Customs number,
  • A statement of previous import activities that has been carried out as an importer of food, by the company and/or its management.

The said license is issued by the NFSA within 30 business days from the date of submitting the complete file and is issued for a duration of 3 years. Moreover, all the submitted documents and information to the NFSA are considered confidential. 

The Decision adds that the NFSA may revoke or suspend the said license in several cases including the following;

  • The existence of a non-conformity that constitutes a particular level of risk;
  • The submission of incorrect data/information;
  • Issuance of a final judgment on the licensee in one of the crimes stipulated in the Companies law, or import and export or customs or supply or fraud suppression or  Money laundering or competition law.  
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