At the beginning of 2023, the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety (MFDS) introduced a new differential registration scheme (해외제조업소 차등 등록제) for foreign food facilities manufacturing foods with potential risks was newly introduced. The importers are required to submit safety certificates such as HACCP, GMP, ISO22000, etc., when registering the foreign food facilities. This new scheme aims to intensify the safety control of imported foods throughout the entire manufacturing procedure. We take a look under the hood at the new regulation here.
According to statistics released by aTFIS, the size of South Korea’s food industry market increased by an average of 7.7 percent per annum in the ten years spanning from 2006 to 2016. The total value of the food market is estimated to be worth 403 billion (450.9 trillion won) including food distribution industry (see Figure 1, Figure 2). Given historical trends we can expect South Korea’s food market to continue its positive upward trajectory. Importantly for international stakeholders there is also a significant and increasing demand for imported foods which provides potentially lucrative investment opportunities for importers and international food enterprise (see Figure 3, based on data released by Import Inspection Management Division of MFDS). In this article we will analyze foreign owned food facility registration, one of the most basic market entry prerequisites, but also one of the most significant regulatory compliance barriers international stakeholders must overcome to access Korea’s food market.
(Figure 1. South Korea Food Industry Development Trend)
(Figure 2. Food Market Volume)
To import food products to South Korea, registration must be completed in line with the requirements articulated within the Imported Food Act (Learn more from the article of Foodpedia). Within the Imported Food Act “Foreign food facility” is defined as “a facility located abroad (including a ship where fishery products are produced or processed) where imported food, etc. (excluding livestock products) is produced, manufactured, processed, treated, packaged, stored, etc.”. To register a foreign food facility is the first and a very significant step to import foods, food additives, apparatus, containers and packages, health functional foods, and livestock products to South Korea. If one fails to register his/her foreign facility then food products cannot be imported. This article will show you what registration is, how to register and also outlines the penalties for violations of registration requirements.
Overseas entities wishing to import food into South Korea must register their manufacturing/production/processing facility and this process is under the oversight of the Korean Ministry of Food and Drug Safety. The facility must be registered before the importer files an import declaration as stipulated by a document published by MFDS on the 11th of Dec, 2018. This requirement also applies to registration update or renewal (learn more changes, please refer to Chemlinked News).
2. Registration, registration amendment and registration renewal
Information such as the name, location of, and items manufactured shall be registered and submitted as prescribed by Ordinance of the Prime Minister by form of Application or Registration of Foreign Food Facility (Application for Registration of Foreign Food Facility/for Updating Registration of Foreign Food Facility /for Renewing Registration of Foreign Food Facility). The registration can be applied for both offline and online (shown below).
People can register foreign food facility on MFDS website of https://impfood.mfds.go.kr/#!CFAAA01F010
3. Instructions online registration:
Step 1: Click “해외제조업소등록신청”(means"Application for Registration of Foreign Food Facility") to reach the application.
Step 2: File the Application for Registration of Foreign Food Facility and input mandatory information (To get translation service, please connect email@example.com ). The “name” and “location” of the facility requires input of actual manufacturing facility address and cannot be a holding company or authorized representative. The “representative” refers to person in charge the facility.
When uploading the attachments like certification documents, etc., the file shall be in form of pdf, hwp, jpg, xlsx, xls, txt, doc, ppt, docx. For example, a picture cannot be uploaded.
Step 3: When it is deemed necessary by the MFDS, more information shall be submitted. Otherwise the registration can be cancelled. This process also covers registration update and renewal.
Step 4: If the importer intends to change or amend submitted registration information, he/she shall submit this to MFDS prior to import declaration.
The term of validity is 2 years after a facility is registered. Renewal is required at least 7 days before the expiry date. For instance, if you registered on 20th, Dec, 2018, the application of renewal shall be submitted no later than 13th, Dec, 2020. It is suggested to submit the renewal of registration at least one month before the expiration date.
*ChemLinked provides the compliance consulting service on the Foreign Food Facility Registration, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you need more information.
4. Checking the registration status of a facility
As mentioned above, the importer shall register the facility before filing an import declaration. However where the facility has been registered as a foreign food facility already by another importer, there is no need to register it again.
It is possible to check the registration status of a facility by accessing the MFDS here: https://impfood.mfds.go.kr/#!CFAAA01F040
Click “Foreign Manufactures Views” under “Petition application” to reach the web page.
Last update: MFDS changed the web Link URL for the registration application in March 2020. The new URL is : https://impfood.mfds.go.kr/CFKAA01F01
5. Registration application rejection
If an importer fails to register a foreign food facility, has their application rejected, fails to notify MFDS of an amendment to their registered information, or fraudulently registers a facility, the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety may cancel the registration and reject the import declaration according to Article 5 and 20 of the Imported Food Act.
It is particularly important to pay attention to the scenario in which an imported food product is manufactured in A country and then stored in B country. In this instance you shall register both facilities in line with the definition of “Foreign food facility” [“a facility located abroad (including a ship where fishery products are produced or processed) where imported food, etc. (excluding livestock products) is produced, manufactured, processed, treated, packaged, stored, etc.”].