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Importing Rice From India to the U.S.

Importing Rice from India to the US Feature
So who can import rice to the U.S. from India? What needs to be done to get the okay for a rice shipment? These questions and more are answered by our experts in this informative guide.
Joe Weaver
June 26, 2019
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Last Modified: September 11, 2023

If you’re considering importing rice from India, you’re not alone. Rice from India is the foundation of many cuisines around the globe. It’s no wonder that billions of dollars every year go into importing it. To bring rice into the USA from India, you have to make sure you adhere to the rules from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and Customs and Border Protection (CBP). 

When importing rice from India to the U.S., you’ll need to fill out PPQ Form 587 to apply for a permit to bring plants or plant products into the country. Your shipment will also be subject to inspection at the port of entry. Additionally, you should expect to file prior notice with the Food and Drug Administration and to fill out several CBP entry documents.

Indian Rice Export Ban 2023: What You Need to Know

In a press release dated 7/20/2023, India’s Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution mandated that exporting non-Basmati white rice is “Prohibited with immediate effect.” This rice export ban was issued in response to rising prices in India’s domestic market and to “Ensure adequate availability of non-Basmati white rice” for citizens of the subcontinent.

Given India’s position as the world’s largest exporter of the popular grain, this ban could have significant ramifications in the coming months. In fact, the news has already led to shortages of rice in the U.S. and Canada as consumers and restaurateurs have started stocking up, wiping out the inventories of big box retailers.

Indian Rice Export Ban: Facts and Figures

Why is one country’s ban on exporting rice so significant to the international rice trade? Take a look at the following statistics.

  • India’s global market share in rice exports is 40 percent.
  • India has exported 23,000 MT of rice to the US alone this year.
  • The total value of rice exported from India in 2022 was nearly 11 billion USD.

This new ban comes at a time when rice prices have already seen a 36.5 percent increase since January 2022. With no decrease in demand for rice in the global market, prices are likely to continue increasing if the ban persists over the course of the next few months.

How Long Will the Rice Export Ban Last?

This is not the first time India has imposed a ban on rice exports, and examining historical data offers some insights into how long this ban may last.

From 2007 to 2008, a global rice crisis saw a dramatic jump in the price of rice on the international market. India’s initial response to the crisis was similar to what they’ve done this past week. In October of 2007, the export of non-Basmati rice was banned. However, three weeks after the ban, India changed tactics to allow the formerly banned rice to be exported if minimum purchase thresholds were met. This lasted until April of 2008 when the ban was put back into place.

Once back in place, the ban lasted well into 2012. One of the main reasons the ban was finally rescinded was a bumper crop that resulted from an ideal monsoon season. With steady rains from June to September, rice crops flourished. 

Unfortunately, meteorological predictions show that amount of rainfall is unlikely to happen again this year, and it’s equally unlikely that the ban is going away any time soon. In fact, other high-volume rice exporting countries in Asia may follow suit to ensure sufficient domestic availability. It’s safe to say that, at least in the short term, the formerly stable rice market will join corn and other grains that have seen drops in availability and commensurate price spikes.

Taking these historical and meteorological factors into account, it would be prudent for rice importers in the U.S. to prepare for substantial difficulties over the next several months. As part of that preparation, consider scheduling some time to consult with one of our customs experts at USA Customs Clearance. We’re up-to-date on all the rules and regulations pertinent to importing foodstuffs to the U.S., and we can help you stay one step ahead of your competitors during this critical moment in the international rice trade.

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Can I Import Rice from India into the United States? 

Whether you are allowed to import rice from India into the United States depends on whether you are bringing it into the country for personal or commercial purposes. 

Personal (or noncommercial) imports of rice from India into the United States are prohibited. Commercial imports of Indian rice into the United States are allowed when the importer has followed all federal rules and regulations. 

Why are Personal Imports of Indian Rice Not Allowed into the United States? 

The United States is wary of allowing imported rice from any country into the United States. This is because rice is at risk of carrying insects. Customs and Border Patrol recommends against bringing rice into the United States, especially if it is contained in loose packaging such as burlap. 

The government is even stricter when it comes to rice from India. Rice from India is outright prohibited in most cases from being brought into the United States for noncommercial purposes. 

This is because India is one of the countries known to be home to the Khapra beetle, a destructive invasive species. You are only allowed to import rice into the United States if you are a commercial dealer whose shipment has been properly inspected and declared free of the Khapra beetle. 

Importing Rice to USA from India

The importation of rice into the United States involves the jurisdiction of multiple government agencies. Food is one of the most scrutinized categories of imports. The U.S. government wants to ensure that all foods that enter the country are safe, sanitary, and up to all other standards. After all, improperly handled or produced food can cause significant problems for anyone who eats it.

The following agencies have a say in whether your rice is allowed into the country: 

  • U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) – Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). This agency’s stated mission is to protect the health of the country’s agricultural and natural resources. 
  • U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Operating under the Department of Health and Human Services, the FDA regulates a broad list of products to ensure public health. 
  • Customs and Border Protection (CBP). The largest agency of the United States Department of Homeland Security, the CBP has oversight over the border. It is responsible for overseeing international trade, collecting import duties, and other duties.

To make sure you’ve checked all your boxes, let’s run down the expectations of each federal agency individually.

Food and Drug Administration Requirements for Importing Rice

All commercial imports of foods require prior notice with FDA. When you arrive at the port of entry, Customs and Border Protection will need proof or prior notice (known as “PN”) to release the food shipments at the border. This is in addition to usual CBP entry documents. 

The FDA does not approve individual shipments. Instead, the food either needs to have FDA sanction or the facilities that handle the products have to be registered with the FDA. 

Customs and Border Protection Rules for Bringing Rice Products into the U.S. 

Importing food into the United States is complicated. Because of the number of details, exceptions and intricacies involved, Customs and Border Patrol recommends using a licensed customs broker to navigate the process for you. However, you can handle it yourself instead if you choose. 

Customs brokers are experienced in the ins and outs of importing a wide variety of items into the United States, and they will know exactly the documents you need for your shipment to be imported successfully. Licensed Customs Brokers are also skilled at calculating customs bond amounts.

In any case, you should contact the port of entry you intend to ship through in advance to make sure you know the requirements and necessary information. The CBP advises that you can consult with a CBP import specialist at the port of entry. The specialist will run through the requirements based on the type of food, country of origin and other restrictions. 

The CBP entry forms needed to be filled out within 15 days of the shipment’s arrival. After 15 days, they will be sent to a warehouse where storage fees could be charged. 

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Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service Regulations for Rice Imports

The APHIS regulates rice and rice products because these items can carry diseases such as downy, mildew, leaf smut, blight and glume blotch. 

The agency requires that rice importers have a permit. You can apply for a permit using PPQ Form 587. This can be completed online, or you can print the form and submit it through the mail. 

You should apply at least 30 days before your shipment is set to arrive, as it can take that long for the permit to go through. If you plan to continue to ship the same item into the country, the permit remains valid until the listed expiration date. You don’t need to reapply for a permit every time you have a shipment. 

Only United States residents with street addresses in the country can receive a permit. 

U.S. Customs Import Fees, Tariffs and Duties for Rice

US Customs Import Fees Tariffs and Duties for Rice

The tariff or duty that you pay on your rice import varies based on the type of rice or rice products, as well as the country of origin. 

Normal Trade Relations

Shipments from most countries, including India, fall under the rate for “normal trade relations” (NTR). The only countries that do not have normal trade relations with the United States are Cuba and North Korea. Here are the duty rates for shipments of rice from the majority of countries: 

  • Rice in the husk: 1.8 cents per kilogram
  • Husked basmati rice: .83 cents per kilogram
  • Other husked rice: 2.1 cents per kilogram
  • Semi-milled or wholly milled rice, parboiled: 11.2 percent
  • Semi-milled or wholly milled rice, other: 1.4 cents per kilogram
  • Broken rice: .44 cents per kilogram
  • Wild rice: 1.1 percent

Keep in mind: Some shipments from NTR countries might also qualify for special preference programs or trade agreement that would make the shipment free of any tariff or duty. 

Special Preference Programs and Trade Agreements 

If your import falls under certain preference programs or trade agreements with countries such as Australia, Canada, Mexico, Chile, Israel, Jordan, Oman, Peru, Singapore, or several others, there is no duty or tariff on the import. You can see the list of special preference programs and trade agreements, and see if they apply to your shipment by looking up the product through the Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS). 

“Column Two” Countries

Countries with which the United States does not have normal trade relations are called “Column Two” countries. As of June 2019, this only applies to Cuba and North Korea. Here the duty rates for rice from Column Two countries: 

  • Rice in the husk: 2.8 cents per kilogram
  • Husked basmati rice: 3.3 cents per kilogram
  • Other husked rice: 3.3 cents per kilogram
  • Semi-milled or wholly milled rice, parboiled: 35 percent
  • Semi-milled or wholly milled rice, other: 5.5 cents per kilogram
  • Broken rice: 1.4 cents per kilogram
  • Wild rice: 10 percent

Invasive Species When Importing Rice from Asian and African Countries

When importing rice from India into the United States, you should be aware of the possibility of bringing in the Khapra beetle. The Khapra beetle is one of the 100 worst invasive species on the planet and can find its way into shipments of rice. 

Khapra beetles are native to India but have since spread to areas in the Mediterranean and Middle East, along with other parts of Asia and Africa, according to the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. They mainly eat grains such as rice, but can also be found in shipments of other food items like fava beans, coriander seeds and dried dates. 

Because of their diet, an infestation of Khapra beetles could deplete supplies of stored grains and seeds. They are called a “destructive pest.” 

Khapra beetles are known for their ability to survive for long stretches without food and resisting pesticides. They thrive in hot, dry environments, which means they are at risk of settling in places like Arizona, California, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas if they were introduced to the United States.

When you bring rice from India or other infested countries into the United States, agricultural specialists will be on the watch for Khapra beetles. Bringing in rice from infested countries without approval risks a fine of $1,000 or more. 

The following countries are designated as being infested with Khapra beetles: 

  • Afghanistan  
  • Algeria 
  • Bangladesh 
  • Burkina Faso (Upper Volta)  
  • Cyprus  
  • Egypt  
  • India  
  • Iran 
  • Iraq  
  • Israel  
  • Kuwait  
  • Libya  
  • Mali  
  • Mauritania  
  • Morocco  
  • Myanmar (Burma)
  • Niger
  • Nigeria  
  • Oman  
  • Pakistan
  • Palestinian Authority, West Bank  
  • Qatar 
  • Republic of Sudan
  • Saudi Arabia 
  • Senegal 
  • South Sudan  
  • Sri Lanka  
  • Syria 
  • Tunisia 
  • Turkey   
  • United Arab Emirates  

If you see the Khapra Beetle in any imported food shipments, the APHIS urges you to report to 

Customs Bond for Importing Rice Into India

When planning a shipment to be imported into the United States for commercial purposes, keep in mind that you likely need to obtain a customs bond. A bond is usually necessary if the products are worth over $2,500 and/or another federal agency regulates the items being imported. 

Rice is regulated by the Food and Drug Administration and the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, so it’s probable that you need a customs bond for your commercial import. 

A customs bond ensures that the required duties and taxes are paid to the CBP for your shipment. A surety company backs up the bond and agrees to pay any outstanding costs if an importer fails to do so. 

Customs bonds come in two different varieties: 

  • Single Entry Bond: A single entry bond does just what its name implies: It allows a one-time shipment into the United States. This is the best option if you don’t have recurring business coming into the United States. 
  • Continuous Bond: By contrast, a continuous bond remains valid over the course of a year and then is automatically renewed unless canceled by the surety, the importer or the CBP. If you will continue to import throughout the year, a continuous bond is probably the best option. 
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Documents Required for Rice Import from India

Documents Required for Rice Import from India

To import your rice into the United States, you will have to complete a number of documents. These are the documents required by the U.S. government to allow your shipment into the country: 

  • Proof of Prior Notice (PN) from the FDA
  • USDA-APHIS Permit
  • CBP Entry Summary 7501
  • Customs bond

You should also need the following import documents so that your shipment can cross the border successfully: 

  • Commercial invoice: A rundown of the products contained in the shipment, their value and quantity, and details about the manufacturer and importer. 
  • Packing list: A packing list makes the customs process easier by laying out the contents, dimensions and weight for each container. 
  • Bill of lading: This document acts as a receipt of the contract between the carrier and shipper. It features information about the shipper, the carrier, the contents of the shipment, the point of origin, the destination and more. 
  • Certificate of origin: This document verifies that your shipment is from India. 

The Top Rice Export and Import Countries

Top Rice Export and Import Countries

If you are interested in importing rice from India for commercial purposes, you are not alone. India is the world’s top exporter of rice. The country exports about 12.5 million metric tons of rice in a year, according to the USDA. That’s about a quarter of the entire amount of rice supplied through exporting worldwide. 

Thailand, the second biggest exporter of rice, sends out about 10 million. Even though India is the largest global exporter of rice, the United States imports more rice from Thailand than it does from India. This is because the United States is largely importing jasmine rice, which is grown in Thailand. 

In terms of money, India exports over $7 billion worth of rice. Compare that to the worldwide total of about $20 billion. India is truly the dominant in the world rice trade. If you are looking to import rice into the United States, India is a reliable and robust source. 

China has been the top importer of rice since 2013, with more than 3 million metric tons coming in every year. China imports rice from India more recently than in previous years. China used to only import basmati rice from India, but it has increasingly permitted imports of non-basmati rice as well. 

Basmati and Non-Basmati Rice Exports from India

Basmati and Non Basmati Rice Exports from India

For a four-year period from 2008 to 2012, India banned the export of non-basmati rice from the country. This was an effort to stem inflation happening at the time. 

However, the ban was lifted in 2012, and India became a major player in the global trade of non-basmati rice. Its total rice exports skyrocketed since the ban was lifted, and are now double what they were before the ban. 

Despite this, most of the rice coming into the United States from India remains basmati rice.

Basmati is considered an aromatic variety of rice, as opposed to non-aromatic varieties such as white rice. 

Should I Use a Customs Broker to Import Rice from India? 

When importing rice from India into the United States, it is highly recommended to enlist a licensed customs broker to navigate the process.

Importing food into the United States is notoriously complex. Every different food and country of origin has its own particularities that dictate the process for getting the shipment into the country successfully. Importing rice from India is no exception. A customs broker will have the expertise and faculties to guarantee the process goes smoothly. 

When you’re counting on your shipment arriving on time without a hitch, you don’t want to encounter any surprises at the port of entry. An experienced, professional customs broker takes away the guesswork from the situation. They will handle the customs paperwork, deciding the best shipping options and make sure the import doesn’t run afoul of any rules or regulations. 

To learn more, use the chat feature or call 855-912-0406 and ask about customs brokers and consulting services

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3 comments on “Importing Rice From India to the U.S.”

  1. we are exporting rice from pakistaN .If you have any inquiry pls ask free.awaiting your

    feed back will be apprecitated.

    thanks best regard

    shahbaz ahmed
    alshahbaz corporation

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