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Section 8e Onion Import Requirements  
Recent Rulemaking:

Vegetable Import Regulation; Modification of Potato Import Regulations and to Administrative Requirements for Onion, Potato and Tomato Import Regulations. Docket Number: AMS-FV-08-0018; FV08-980-1 FR. EFFECTIVE: January 11, 2010. [Notice PDF]

INSPECTION REQUIRED: All onions imported into the United States must meet the following minimum grade, size, and maturity requirements prior to importation (release from custody of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), in accordance with ' 980.117 (7 CFR 980). The onion import regulation is issued under section 8e (7 U.S.C. 608e) of the Agricultural Marketing Agreement Act, as amended (7 U.S.C. 601-674).

Pearl Onions: Regulation period: entire year. Must be inspected and certified as measuring a maximum of 2 inches in diameter. If meets this certification, exempt from minimum grade, size and maturity requirements with proper completion of an Importer’s Exempt Commodity Form (Form FV-6).

Cipolline (also known as “Cippollini” or Borettana) variety of onions: Regulation period: entire year. At least U.S. No. 2. Size: 1 ½ inches (38.1 millimeters) minimum diameter. Maturity: Moderately cured.

White onions: Regulation period: June 5 through March 9. Grade: At least U.S. No. 1. Size: 1 inch (25.4 millimeters) minimum diameter with 2 inch maximum diameter, or 1 ½ inch minimum diameter (no commingling of two categories in same bag or container). Maturity: Moderately cured.

Red onions, except braided red onions: Regulated period: June 5 through March 9. Grade: At least U.S. No. 2. Size: 1-1/2 inches (38.1 millimeters) minimum diameter. Maturity: Moderately cured.

All onions, except white, red cipolline or pearl: Regulation period: June 5 through March 9. Grade: U.S. No. 1 where onions are at least 2 ¼ inches minimum diameter, or onions are 1 ¾ inches diameter with maximum of 2 ¾ inches diameter. Grade: U.S. 2 or Commercial grade where onions are at least 3 inches minimum diameter (but not more than 30 percent of the lot shall be comprised of onions of U.S. No. 1 when packed in containers weighing less than 60 pounds). None of these three categories of onions may be commingled in the same bag or other container. Maturity: Moderately cured.

All onions, except cipolline and pearl: Regulation period: March 10 through June 4. Grade: Shall not exceed 20 percent defects of U.S. No.1. Serious damage shall not exceed 10 percent, including not more than 2 percent decay. Size: White varieties: 1 inch (25.4 millimeters) minimum diameter; other varieties: 1-3/4 inches (44.5 millimeters) minimum diameter.

Onions in transit from country of origin to entry into the United States for 10 or more days may be entered if they meet an average tolerance for decay not to exceed 5 percent.

*Onion regulations do not apply to minimum quantities not exceeding 110 pounds (50 kilograms), braided red onions, onion sets (plantings), or shallots. Pearl onions not larger than 2 (50.8 millimeters) in diameter are exempt from the minimum grade, size, quality, and maturity requirements of the onion regulations, but must be inspected and certified as to size, and the importer must file an "Importer's Exempt Commodity Form" (FV-6) as discussed below. "Braided red onions" means onions of red varieties with tops braided (inter-laced). "Moderately cured" means the onions are mature and are more nearly well cured than fairly well cured.

CONDITIONS FOR THE IMPORTATION OF COMMODITIES EXEMPT FROM IMPORT REQUIREMENTS: The Importer's Exempt Commodity Form (FV-6) is used for pearl onions and onions destined for use in exempt outlets such as: charitable institutions, distribution by relief agencies, or commercial processing. (Commercial processing is defined as physically altering the form or chemical composition of the product through canning, freezing, dehydrating, extractive (juicing), and pickling in brine, or heating of the product. The act of slicing, dicing, or peeling is not considered commercial processing. Processing does not include fresh chopped, fresh cut, convenience food or other pre-packing salad operation.

Contact the Marketing Order and Agreement Division’s (MOAD) Compliance and Enforcement Branch at (202) 720-2491 for more information on filing the FV-6 exemption certificates within two days after the commodity enters the United States.

DISPOSITION OF ONIONS FAILING THE MEET INSPECTION REQUIREMENTS: Onions failing to meet the above import requirements may be: (1) exported; (2) disposed of under Federal or Federal-State Inspection Program supervision with the importer bearing the costs of certifying the disposal of such onions; (3) diverted to an exempt outlet using the FV-6 form (see various approved outlets and procedures listed above); or (4) reconditioned and reinspected with failed portion disposed of under the procedures number (2) or (3) above.

INSTRUCTIONS FOR OBTAINING USDA INSPECTION AND CERTIFICATION: The Federal or Federal-State Inspection Program, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Marketing Service, Fruit and Vegetable Program, is designated as the governmental inspection agency for the purpose of certifying the grade, size, and maturity of onions prior to importation into the United States and will issue the official inspection certificates required on all onion imports.

USDA inspection and certification services will be available upon application, in accordance with the rules and regulations governing the inspection and certification of fresh fruits, vegetables, and other products (7 CFR Part 51). The cost of the inspection and certification shall be borne by the applicant.

Onion importers should make arrangements for inspection and certification at least one day prior to entry at Port of inspection offices and two days prior to entry at the Field Operations Section at the Washington headquarters office at (202) 720-2482 or (800) 811-2373.

Washington Headquarters Inspection Office: USDA, AMS, Fruit and Vegetable Program, Specialty Crop Inspection Division, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW, Room 1661-S, Stop Code 0240, Washington, D.C. 20250-0240. Telephone: (202) 720-2482 or (800) 811-2373.

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  Last Modified Date: 08/21/2014