You may wonder, “Can I send vitamins overseas to reach customers in other countries?” The short answer is yes. However, for a company to sell vitamins overseas, it must adhere to each country’s regulations regarding what is considered “medicine.”
Shipping Regulations for Dietary Supplements
Selling vitamins online to international buyers may not be worth the effort for some companies due to the added cost of conforming to various countries’ laws. By knowing the rules in each country, you can determine which ones are worth targeting with your products.
Country of Origin
To import vitamins or supplements, your company must file a “prior notice” with the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) before the products arrive at their port of entry. The notice must state:
- Country where the product was made
- Most recent country the product passed through
- Customs and Border Protection (CBP) port of entry
- Name, address, and contact information of the manufacturer
- Standard carrier code
- CBP automated commercial system (ACS) for tracking date/type
Sellers must submit the notice eight hours before arrival by sea, four hours before arrival by rail or air, and two hours before arrival by road.
All vitamins and supplements must adhere to FDA regulations and adherence to good manufacturing processes. Sellers also have to create a foreign supplier verification program (FSVP) plan assessing potential risks from suppliers.
Before attempting to deliver vitamins or supplements to the following countries, become familiar with their rules. If you wish to obtain export certification for vitamins, supplements, or any other type of food additive, you must contact the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition Export Certification Team.
If you want to ship vitamins to the U.S., log in to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s website and fill out the “prior notice” forms. You will then be able to obtain a prior notice confirmation number. Each type of supplement or vitamin will require a separate form.
In Canada, supplements and vitamins qualify as natural health products (NHPs). You will have to fill out a declaration listing the names and categories of the products. Include ingredients in the paperwork since Canada’s government also regulates NHP raw materials.
Shipping vitamins to Mexico requires approval and permitting from the Federal Commission for the Protection against Sanitary Risk ministry. While shipping through the postal service avoids the most thorough inspections, you still face the risk of product seizures if you don’t seek approval first.
The U.K. restricts the import of certain supplements, which the country’s Food Standard Agency classifies as regulated foods. You must fill out a declaration and include product names, categories, and ingredients. If the supplements contain products of animal origin, sellers and importers will likely require certification.
Since Japan has some of the most stringent restrictions regarding supplements, most sellers don’t even attempt to ship vitamins or supplements to the country. Shippers may only send 2-month supplies of vitamins at a time, and shipments can experience severe delays.
Due to quarantine laws, supplements or vitamins containing animal products will likely not be able to enter the country.
Type of Vitamin Being Shipped
The types of vitamins or supplements countries allow in shipments vary depending on whether their governments view the products as medicine, whether they contain animal-sourced ingredients, and whether the country of origin faces any sanctions or importation bans.
The FDA offers Certificate of Free Sale export certifications for supplements and vitamins. Since each country has different rules about what it will allow in shipments, it’s best to reach out to your target country’s health department to obtain any importation permits or certifications it may require.
Preparing to Ship Vitamins Internationally
Once you’ve done your legwork regarding whether you can ship to your preferred country, you’ll have to pack your products per the rules.
Research Packaging Requirements
Each country has packaging requirements specifically to keep supplement and vitamin shipments safe over long, arduous travels. Ask for the country’s packaging regulations when you inquire about certifications and permits.
It takes time to ship vitamins internationally, and they may be subject to extreme temperature swings, varying barometric pressure, and rough handling.
Assemble Required Documents
Nearly every country requires import documentation, including information about the origin of the vitamins and their ingredients, the destination, the countries the shipment has traveled through, and the purpose of the shipment.
Comply with Customs
All vitamin and supplement shipments must pass through customs, whether shipping into or out of the U.S. The products will also have to be fully compliant with FDA regulations.
Customs authorities are in charge of whether the shipment may leave or enter the country, and you must have the appropriate paperwork, such as the “prior notice” document and written FSVP plan.
Selecting an International Shipping Provider
To avoid many of the import and export headaches sellers face, you can partner with an experienced international shipping provider.
Ideally, your shipping provider is also a manufacturer, so you don’t have to be concerned with foreign vitamin manufacturing in an attempt to avoid importation and shipment regulations. A reputable manufacturer will be FDA-compliant and able to ship your products to your countries of choice.
Supplement companies that want to simplify shipping and manufacturing turn to Print Bind Ship. We know the ins and outs of exporting and importing vitamins and supplements, and our manufacturing facilities conform to good manufacturing practices and FDA guidelines.
With Print Bind Ship, you can focus on selling instead of forever researching the regulations of dozens of nations.
You Sell Vitamins, Print Bind Ship Sells Peace of Mind
The rules for international vitamin sales are numerous, confusing, and mind-numbing. That’s why supplement companies worldwide trust Print Bind Ship to take care of their shipments. We stay on top of the regulations and laws affecting your ability to sell in a given country, letting you continue building your brand without worrying about compliance. Can you ship vitamins internationally? Yes, just contact Print Bind Ship!
Yes, as long as your shipments are properly permitted and licensed.
Most countries have severe restrictions on shipping vitamins for commercial sale but not for personal use.
Only Drug Enforcement Administration-registered distributors may ship prescription drugs, and over-the-counter medications face similar regulations.