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Importing Medical Devices into the United States

The import of medical devices into the United States is a crucial aspect of the healthcare industry.  However, importing these products can be a complex process, especially for those who are unfamiliar with the regulations and requirements set forth by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA).  FDA is responsible for ensuring that all medical devices that enter the United States meet the safety and efficacy standards set forth by the agency.  This blog will examine the process of importing medical devices into the United States and the role of FDA in regulating these products.


Regulatory Framework for Importing Medical Devices

FDA regulates the import of medical devices under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act).  The FD&C Act requires that all medical devices be safe and effective for their intended use.  In addition, FDA regulates the import of medical devices under the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR),Title 21, Parts 800-1299.

Before a medical device can be imported into the United States, it must be cleared by FDA.  FDA's clearance process involves the review of the product's safety and effectiveness, labeling, and compliance with the agency's regulations and requirements. FDA also conducts inspections of medical device manufacturing facilities to ensure that they are complying with the agency's regulations and requirements.


Types of Medical Devices Regulated by FDA

FDA regulates a wide range of medical devices that are used in the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of various medical conditions.  These medical devices are categorized into three classes based on the level of risk they pose to the patient and the level of regulation they require.  Class I medical devices are considered low-risk and include products such as bandages and dental floss.  Class II medical devices are considered moderate-risk and include products such as X-ray machines and insulin pumps.  Class III medical devices are considered high-risk and include products such as heart valves and implantable pacemakers.


FDA's Import Requirements

Once the device is cleared, importers of medical devices must comply with FDA's import requirements.  The following are some of the requirements that importers must meet:

       •      Device Listing - Importers must list all medical devices with FDA before they can be imported into the United States.

       •      Establishment Registration -Importers must register with FDA and provide information about their business, such as the type of products they import and their manufacturing facilities.

       •      Initial Importer - Importers are required to act as the "Initial importer" for the products they import.  This means that the importer's name indicated on the entry documents must match the name of the entity listed on the medical device listing and establishment registration.  Customs authorities rely on this information to ascertain that the device has been cleared by FDA and is authorized for import into the United States.  As the initial importer, it is also the importer's responsibility to comply with all relevant FDA regulations and requirements, including those pertaining to product safety and labeling.

       •      Labeling Requirements: Importers must ensure that their products are properly labeled and include all required information, such as the product name, manufacturer, and intended use.

       •      Quality System Compliance: Importers must ensure that the products they import are manufactured in compliance the Quality System Regulation (QSR) 21 CFR 820. The QSR is a set of regulations that ensure the quality and consistency of medical devices.

FDA Import Alerts

Medical devices that may be in violation of FDA's regulations and requirements FDA may be subjected to an import alert.  Import alerts may result in the detention of the product at the port of entry, which means that the product will not be allowed into the United States until the importer provides the necessary documentation and information to demonstrate that the product complies with FDA's regulations and requirements.  Import alerts may also lead to the seizure of the product, which means that the product is removed from the market and cannot be sold in the United States.  Importers should be aware of FDA's import alerts and take steps to ensure that their products comply with the agency's regulations and requirements.



FDA plays a vital role in regulating the import of medical devices to ensure their safety and efficacy for the American public.  Importers must comply with FDA regulations and requirements to meet the agency's standards because non-compliant medical devices may be subject to import alerts, thereby preventing them from entering the country.


At Vision28, our team of experienced associates has been helping customers import medical devices into the United States for over 20 years.  We understand the challenges and complexities of the FDA importing process.  Contact us today to learn how we can help you with your medical device importing needs.