Importing Onions

Most shipments of onion imports over 110 lbs. (50 kg.) are subject to Section 8e requirements. View the full regulation.Onions imported into the United States must meet the following minimum grade, size, quality, and maturity requirements prior to importation:Pearl Onions: Regulation period: entire year whenever onions grown in designated counties in Idaho and Malheur County, Oregon, are regulated under Marketing Order No. 958. Must be inspected and certified as measuring a maximum of 2 inches in diameter.Cipolline (also known as “Cippollini” or Borettana) variety of onions: Regulation period: entire year whenever onions grown in designated counties in Idaho and Malheur County, Oregon, are regulated under Marketing Order No. 958.White onions: Regulation period: June 5 through March 9 whenever onions grown in designated counties in Idaho and Malheur County, Oregon, are regulated under Marketing Order No. 958, and March 10 through June 4 whenever onions grown in designated counties in South Texas are regulated under Marketing Order No. 959. 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 whenever onions grown in designated counties in Idaho and Malheur County, Oregon, are regulated under Marketing Order No. 958, and March 10 through June 4 whenever onions grown in designated counties in South Texas are regulated under Marketing Order No. 959. 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.Canadian InspectionThe onion import regulations identify the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) as a governmental inspection service for the purpose of certifying the grade, size, quality and maturity of onions imported, or to be imported, into the United States. These import regulations are currently being amended to require Canadian exporters of onions into the United States to enter the CFIA certificate number and an electronic image of the CFIA certificate into Customs and Border Patrol’s International Trade Data System, which will transmit said certificate number and image to MOAD. Specific ExemptionsOnion regulations do not apply to minimum quantities not exceeding 110 pounds (50 kilograms), braided red onions, onion sets (plantings), or shallots. "Braided red onions" means onions of red varieties with tops braided (interlaced). "Moderately cured" means the onions are mature and are more nearly well cured than fairly well cured.The Importer's Exempt Commodity Form (SC-6) is used onions imported for use in exempt outlets such as: charitable institutions, livestock feed, distribution by relief agencies, or commercial processing, and pearl onions, onion sets, braided red onions, and minimum quantity shipments of 110 lbs. Commercial processing is defined as physically altering the form or chemical composition of the product through canning, freezing, dehydrating, extraction (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.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.TimelineOnion importers should make arrangements for inspection and certification pursuant to the time schedule chart set forth in the onions import regulations.