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Brexit – what does it mean for EHCs?


The latest news and updates will appear here. Last updated 16/11/20.

The UK left the EU on 31st January 2020 and entered a transition period, during which time, export requirements will remain unchanged. Currently this period is due to last until 31st December 2020. The Government and the EU seem determined to stick to this date with no further extension.

Beyond that, the requirement for export health certificates is uncertain and will depend on the terms of any free trade agreement reached. It is important to note that even where the EU currently has a FTA (eg Japan, Canada), EHCs are still required, although of course the volumes and types of goods sent are very different.  It is therefore very likely there will be an increase in EHC demand whatever the outcome. It is well worth lobbying your trade association and local MP to ensure your voice and specific requirements are heard.

However the clock is ticking and we are still awaiting confirmation such as the final format of the EHCs and guidance notes, as well as labelling requirements. We urgently need this to enable us to prepare, and to advise exporting companies how best to approach EU and NI exports in 2021 and beyond. 

Of course it is still possible that we may leave without a free trade agreement of any form and resort to WTO terms. We will provide updates as soon as they are known.

In both an FTA or WTO situation, products of animal origin (POAO) may then require an Export Health Certificate (EHC), signed by an Official Vet (OV) to travel to the EU and will need to enter via an appropriate Border Control Post (BCP).

Download our simple step-by-step guide to EHCs here.

To further complicate matters, a new EU regulation 2017/625 (official controls regulations (OCR)) came into place on 14th December 2019 and as such may lead to further changes beyond those described above – we are awaiting further clarification on this.

 

DEFRA have released around 100 new EHCs for export to the EU. This link can be used to search and download specimens. These are based on EU model EHCs, however the format may yet change. The list covered various commodities including meat, dairy, fish, egg, honey, gelatin and collagen. The definitions of ‘animal product’, ‘composite product’, ‘compound product’, ‘meat product’, ‘meat preparation’, ‘processed’ etc are complex and governed, inter alia, by EU regs 853/2004, 28/2012 and 2007/275. The attached guide may be of help.

The exporter will apply to APHA on EHC online (EHCO). They may bulk apply for identical EHCs for up to a month supply at a time. The EHCs do not ‘expire’ as such but new versions can come out and country disease status can change. For many loads, especially mixed/complex loads, the actual details of the exact products, final quantity, weight etc can be added on a ‘schedule’ at loading and so do not need to be known at time of application. 

The EHCs will be available for the OV to download from EHCO on the next working day. The OV will print on plain paper, stamp and sign, once any necessary checks and supporting evidence has been obtained. This is in English and also the language of the BCP and that of the final destination country. Ireland have indicated they will accept only an English copy. A scanned copy must be made and sent to the exporter – the BCP must be notified electronically, and the CHED part 1 completed on TRACES, potentially up to 24 hours in advance of arrival of the shipment at the BCP. OCR gives some discretion to reduce this to 4 hours. We must also save a copy.

The physical hard copy must accompany the consignment ie go with the driver, to present at the BCP.  The BCP must accept that particular commodity – not all do so.

Remember that we CANNOT sign an EHC once goods have left the UK.

Questions that we cannot yet answer…

1 What if the driver loses the original EHC?

We understand EU law insists the original copy must be presented at the BCP, so a ‘cancel and replace’ would be needed. We are not aware of APHA planning to provide an out of office emergency service for this so potentially a lost EHC on a Friday evening may mean a lorry sitting in a port until the Monday or even Tuesday.

2  What goods will need certifying?

As a rule of thumb – all meat goods and most other goods containing >50% POAO that are either not heat treated and/or are not shelf stable. So for example a supermarket shipping raw milk goods, pasteurised milk goods, eggs, poultry, fish, honey, beef, lamb, pork and composite products on one lorry may need 15 or even more EHCs just for that one lorry. If they ship 10 lorries a day, that could be 150 EHCs! If they have more than one consignee, this could be even more.

In terms of categories, some common definitions would include:-

Fresh meat – raw, unprocessed and chilled or frozen

Meat preparation – mince, burgers, sausages, fresh meat with minimal change eg a coating. Must be sent frozen

Meat product – bacon, biltong, cooked chicken slices – undergone processing sufficient to clearly not be recognisable as fresh meat

Composite product – processed POAO together with plant material that is a vital component and not there to add flavour or for processing eg BLT sandwich, lasagne, pork pie, chicken burrito 

3 What about consolidators?

If a forwarder is consolidating a load from say 5 different exporters in one lorry, then either the forwarder or the 5 individual companies should apply for the EHCs. If done separately, the certifying OVs will be unable to add any seal details as these will not be known for sure in advance. Equally if one part of the shipment is refused due to incorrect EHC, will the rest be condemned due to contamination risk? There could be one final EHC using the forwarder as the consignor, but the certifying OV will need veterinary documentation from the suppliers to be able to sign.

4 Consignee details

EHCs are normally for a shipment to a single consignee in the destination country. If, say, a supermarket wants to ship to 10 individual stores in the destination country, do they require 10 EHCs or can they set up and ship to a company set up in that country? Does that company need to have a physical presence there?

5 What documents do we need before we can sign?

This will vary from EHC to EHC, but may include evidence of country of origin/any movement during rearing, oval health mark, processing details, disease freedom, non-contamination etc. If non-UK origin, we will need the documents that accompanied the goods into the UK, plus similar veterinary assurance from the country of origin. We are still waiting on EU guidance as to what health status the UK will be given and whether any special guarantees will apply (especially for the meat sector).

6 What about the volume of goods?

It will certainly be a challenge – we have extra OVs and CSOs (certification support officers) on standby to cope with the extra volume and are aware that it may be a 24/7 operation in some cases.

7 Why should I chose Amivet as my official vet?

There are relatively few vets who are active in the export certification field and it is important to choose someone who has experience. At Amivet Exports we are more than happy to work with clients to offer a ‘tailor made’ service. Some companies already export and just need us to inspect the goods and sign the paperwork when needed; others are new to exporting and require a lot more guidance and help through the process.

We travel extensively throughout the UK and aim to be as flexible as possible. You will also get a named contact, so you will get a familiar contact that can get to know and understand your business. For further information and a free, informal discussion about your export requirements, including what products you may need an EHC for, please contact us.

8 How can I make it easy?

No simple answer on this one without completely reworking your distribution systems. There will inevitably be delays and teething problems:-

Day 1 for day 2 may simply not be possible in every case

If you can arrange loads so all the dairy is on one lorry, the meat on another etc, that would help but is often impossible

Arrange your shipments in as short a window as possible – it is much quicker to check 6 lorries all loading and going out in a 2 hour window than to have one every 4 hours as there will be a lot of waiting around and poor use of OV time

Checks – it will be impracticable to examine every single product going on every shipment – we will have to rely on spot checks and risk assess the goods going on a case by case basis.

For bulk retail shipments of processed/lower risk goods (ie not fresh meat/raw dairy), from registered, trusted suppliers with verified stable supply chains, we may be able to use a ‘support attestation’ – a veterinary endorsed declaration valid for up to 30 days, subject to regular reconfirmation. This is known as the ‘groupage/GEFS‘ scheme, as agreed by DEFRA. This allows a single manufacturing site check every 30 days – however there are certain conditions that must be met.

Technology – there is a commercial ‘app’ available that can track and capture much of the information required. We have assisted in its development and can put you in touch with the developer if you wish to explore in more detail what it can offer

Work with us – we will try our very best to come up with a unique solution for every client that works for both parties

Of course if we get an extension (even if last minute), then we will carry on as normal for the time being!

The Government have provided a useful step by step guide which can be downloaded here.

You can read our FAQs here….

So please get in touch if you have any further questions….

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