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Exporting food and animal products to China - the role of the official vet

Posted by andrewivesonadmin | Posted 11th October 2017 | Blog, and News

China is the UK’s second biggest customer in terms of food and animal product exports. To export many of these products requires an EXPORT HEALTH CERTIFICATE (EHC).

An EHC is an official Government document, issued by APHA (Animal and Plant Health Agency), signed by an official veterinarian (OV), that confirms that food or animal products meet the import requirements of another country”


There are currently 12 different EHCs available for the China, covering the following commodities:-

  • Milk/milk products
  • Meat – pig meat only
  • Fish/aquatic animals/molluscs
  • Hides/skins/wool/bristles
  • Laboratory samples

Meat exports are currently limited to pork and pig meat (excluding offal and processed meat) and all the premises must be on the China approved list. Poultry/beef/lamb exports to China are currently banned, although steps are being taken to end this ban. Stringent requirements are in place regarding hygiene; disease and origin requirements must be met, as well as freedom from certain diseases.

Dairy products must originate in the UK and the species of origin must be stated. The country must be free from diseases such as foot and mouth disease and rinderpest (cattle plague – considered eliminated). The manufacturers must be on the CNCA approved list.


An import permit may be required for certain products. The importer or their agent would usually apply for this from the Chinese authorities. The permit lists any conditions that must be met on the EHC. It may be valid for a certain quantity of goods for a fixed period of time.


This is often needed and must be worded exactly to match the certificate and include the phrase “I am aware that is an offence to give a false declaration”.

The person signing must have reasonable knowledge that what they are signing is correct and they must be on the approved list of signatories held by APHA, who can and do follow up on mandecs by telephone or email to check their validity.


The EHC application process is explained step by step below.

  • Exporter fills in EXA07 application form and part completed EHC pdf file and emails to APHA Centre for International Trade, Carlisle
  • APHA issue certificate to nominated OV
  • OV inspects the goods as usual and obtains any necessary support documents
  • OV signs and stamps the EHC and forwards to exporter
  • Steps are being taken to ensure the whole process will be done online in the future



There are a number of particular points to consider with export to China.

  • The OV must be on the specific list held by DEFRA and China and provide a specimen signature and stamp
  • China insists the certificates are fully typed, not handwritten
  • China are very fussy about any amendments and may reject amended certificates
  • China dislike the insertion of any additional ‘schedules’ into the certificate, for example where the product list will not all fit into the box on the EHC
  • The 2015 China Food Safety Act should not affect the process for the products discussed in this section.
  • However there will be a requirement for a ‘harmonised export health certificate’, for foods and plant based goods including alcohol, soft drinks, mineral water, snack food, confectionery, condiments and other longer life packaged goods. Current information from DEFRA suggests that this will not begin before 1st October 2018 at the earliest and that no physical inspection of manufacturing facilities will be required by the Chinese.


There are relatively few vets who are active in the export certification field and it is important to choose someone who has experience with the system for China.

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.

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