Importing Dates

Shipments of dates greater than 70 lbs. and intended for human consumption are subject to Section 8e inspection.  The cost of the inspection and certification is paid by the applicant. View the full regulation.

Dates imported into the United States must meet the following minimum grade and/or maturity requirements prior to importation:

Grade Requirements - Dates for packaging and dates in retail packages must meet modified U.S. Grade B.  View the regulation.

"Dates in retail packages" refers to whole or pitted dates, other than dates prepared or preserved, wrapped or packaged for sale at retail. 

"Dates for packaging" refers to whole or pitted dates in bulk containers which are to be repacked, in whole or part, in the United States as dates in retail packages. 

Specific Exemptions
Any imported shipment of dates not exceeding 70 lbs. or any lot of dates rendered unfit for human consumption may be exempt from grade and certification requirements.  Dates for processing, dates prepared or preserved, and dates donated to certain charitable entities are also not subject to grade, inspection and certification requirements. 

"Dates for processing" refers dates for use in a bakery, confectionary, or other product and includes dates coated with a substance materially altering their color.

“Dates prepared or preserved" refers to dates processed into a confection or other product, dates coated with a substance materially altering their color, or dates prepared for incorporation into a product by chopping, slicing, or other processing which materially alters their form. 

To import dates for processing or dates prepared or preserved, an importer must file an Importer's Exempt Commodity Form (SC-6). The SC-6 form is also used for dates donated to needy persons, prisoners, and Native Americans on reservations.

The SC-6 exemption form must now be filed through the Compliance and Enforcement Management System (CEMS). The MOLS system previously utilized by AMS has been transitioned to CEMS. Visit Section 8e Exemptions – SC-6 Certificate for further information on the new CEMS and SC-6 Certificates. Also, visit Filing a SC-6 Certificate in CEMS for directions for registering for CEMS and instructions on filing a SC-6 Certificate.

Reclassification & Reinspection of Dates
Dates initially offered as "dates for processing" meeting U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) wholesomeness and cleanliness requirements, may be re-offered as "dates for packaging" if re-inspected by USDA and certified to meet grade requirements.

Dates initially offered as “dates for packaging” or “dates for retail packages,” that fail both grade and FDA requirements cannot be imported. 

Dates failing grade and meeting FDA requirements may be imported as “dates for processing” without reconditioning and re-inspection, but are subject to SC-6 form filing.

Importers should make arrangements for inspection and certification at least 10 days prior to entry at Port by contacting the nearest field office.  An onboard bill of lading designating the lots to be inspected must accompany applications for inspection or be submitted promptly thereafter.