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Ten top tips for export health certificates

Posted by andrewivesonadmin | Posted 20th September 2017 | Blog

Export Health Certificates (EHCs) are required to export certain foods and products of animal origin from the UK. They are official Government documents, issued by APHA (animal and plant health agency) and must be completed, signed and stamped by an official veterinarian (OV). They confirm that the specified products meet required standards of hygiene and disease status to enable them to be exported from the UK to outside the EU (and potentially to the EU after ‘Brexit’)

There are just over 1,500 certificates available, covering 130 countries and they all have slightly different requirements. They can be broadly split into a range of commodities:

• Meat (red and white meat and poultry – this includes prime cuts, offal and processed meat products eg sausages, burgers, kebabs)
• Dairy (including milk, whey, yoghurt, cheese, butter & ice cream)
• Hides, skins, wool, feathers & lanolin
• Collagen, gelatin & casings
• Egg products
• Fish and fishery products
• Laboratory
• Pet food and animal feeds
• Miscellaneous

 

We have come up with a list of 10 ‘top tips’ to help you plan and carry out your export and make it run smoothly.

1. CHECK THAT YOUR PRODUCT CAN BE EXPORTED

Before going any further, check that your product can actually be exported to the country required – some countries currently (September 2017) ban imports from UK eg the USA bans beef due to BSE and South Africa bans poultry due to ‘bird flu’ and the situation can change quickly. Speak to us early on in the process so we can advise what we will need to be able to sign the EHC.

Our website has a dropdown menu to help you check what can be sent to where.

Other sources of information are APHA, MADB and Croner’s Guide.

2. ALLOW PLENTY OF TIME

For first exports, we normally recommend at least a week, often more, to allow time for the inspection and obtaining relevant declarations and paperwork. Regular shipments can often be done within 2-3 days.
• The exporter applies to APHA with a draft certificate copy and an EXA application form.
• APHA issue the certificate, which is then sent to the OV.
• The OV will then inspect the goods, check the paperwork is in order and then sign and stamp the certificate.
• The exception is the USA – the final certificate is signed by APHA vets, based on a draft copy signed by the OV, which can take extra time.

The infographic below helps explain the process

3. COMPLETE THE APPLICATION FORM (EXA07, EXA07-poultry or EXA10)

These must be completed and submitted with the draft certificate to APHA to apply for an EHC. Common mistakes include putting an incorrect export date or not allowing enough time, and not stating the dates of slaughter and/or processing, in which case APHA will reject it, causing delays.
Where the delivery address is not that of the OV (eg it is to be sent to a warehouse or place of loading), a delivery declaration must be signed by the OV and held by APHA. We recommend that the EXA and draft certificate be sent to us for checking first before submission to APHA.

4. GET YOUR EHC BEFORE YOU SHIP

The EHC cannot be issued and signed after the goods leave the UK – if this happens then the goods will either need to be shipped back to the UK, or will end up being destroyed at the destination – either option is a costly mistake.

5. CHECK IF YOU NEED AN IMPORT PERMIT

Some countries require an import permit for some goods, which specifies any particular conditions that need to be met. Some are valid for a specific length of time for multiple shipments; others may be for a one off load only; others may only be issued after the EHC has been submitted.
The importer or their agent will normally apply for the permit. Countries issuing import permits include South Africa, India, Trinidad and Tobago, Australia and the USA.

6. MANUFACTURER DECLARATIONS (MANDECS)

Many EHCs require declaration(s) from the manufacturer and/or exporter to confirm certain conditions have been met. These must be signed by someone of seniority within the business, who could ‘reasonably be expected’ to have knowledge that the information they are stating is accurate and correct. The wording is critical and must exactly match that on the EHC.
The document must be on headed paper and include the phrase “I am aware that it is an offence to make a false declaration”. APHA can and do follow these up to request further proof. A list of approved signatories must be submitted to APHA.

7. CHOOSE YOUR OV CAREFULLY

Due to the complexity and variety of EHCs, it is vital to pick an OV who is experienced in the export field. There are actually very few vets who specialise in this area.
• Are they aware of the specific issues with each certificate – for example that China dislikes handwritten entries and that the OV must be specifically on the Chinese list, with a specimen signature submitted?
• Will they work early morning, evening and weekends to deal with any issues arising?
• Will you be dealing with the same person each time who will get to truly understand your business?
• Can they advise you on potential new markets and well connected to put you in touch with other agencies who can help?

8. HOW TO GET A NEW CERTIFICATE

If there is no certificate available, it may be possible to get one produced. However this can take time and may involve inspections by overseas Government agencies and long negotiations. It is best to work with your trade association and priority is given to potential high volume exports to existing markets where a current EHC might be able to be adapted.

9. COMMUNICATE WITH OTHER AGENCIES

With any export, there is a lot of paperwork involved and logistics to consider. Speak to other agencies at an early stage.
Chamber of Commerce – can provide certificates of origin and advise on the correct INCOTERM to use etc
Shipping/freight forwarder – for transport
Warehouse/coldstore – for loading slots
Department of International Trade – local market advice and trade shows

10. DOUBLE CHECK AND TRIPLE CHECK YOUR PAPERWORK

Mistakes can be costly to correct and cause delays.
• Check for any ‘typos’ such as an incorrect container number or documents not matching up.
• Is the import permit in date?
• Is the consignee address correct? Some countries will reject EHCs even with a minor ‘typo’ in the postcode
• Is the product description on the EHC the same as on the labels?

As can be seen – there are many potential pitfalls, but by working closely with your OV and other service providers, these should be spotted at an early stage to enable them to be prevented and overcome. Experience and market knowledge are invaluable in this case.

For further advice and information, visit our website www.amivetexports.co.uk or call our team for an initial chat about your export needs on 07765 642 273 or 0161 929 1887 or email andrew@amivet.co.uk

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