Although it may at first seem daunting to apply for and try to get an EHC issued, if you follow the advice and guidelines below, it will help to speed up the process to get your EHC signed more quickly, allowing you to export sooner. It will also help to minimise our time spent and so help to minimise costs.
Ironically, a first export often takes the longest as all the background work and documents need checking, and templates setting up for the application form, EHC itself, and any schedules and manufacturer declarations. Subsequent exports of same goods to the same destinations tend to be much more straightforward.
1.Speak to us early on
It is always worth speaking to us at an early stage of the export, so we can advise which EHC to use, what countries of origin are acceptable, any heat treatments needed, if an import permit is required etc We have had companies in the past who have made an order before asking us, and we have had to refuse to certify because, for example, they had not used UK ingredients. This meant they then had to remake the entire consignment.
2. Fill in the paperwork correctly
Most EHC applications will require a number of documents.
i – EHC itself as a pdf file
ii – Application form to accompany the EHC
iii – Manufacturer declaration(s)
iv – Schedule(s)
Please take care to fill these in carefully and then double check them. Send them to us to approve before submitting to APHA. It is helpful to save them with a memorable name and version number. We have produced a guide to completing these forms here.
Some countries will not accept handwritten entries or amendments, while any EHC with numerous corrections and stamps on is likely to be flagged to customs with possible delays or refusal.
3. Use the correct software.
The EHC and EXA application forms (2 i and ii) above, must be completed in adobe acrobat or reader and saved as pdf files. If opened with other software eg preview for Mac or not saved properly, they will become corrupted and automatically rejection by APHA on application.
4. Apply at the correct time.
In most cases, ideally apply for the EHCs around a week before the shipment is due to leave. Too close to the shipping date will mean APHA cannot process and post out in time, so they will reject it. Too far ahead and the EHC will not be issued, or the 618 notifiable disease clearance form may expire. There are some exceptions to the above so please discuss these with us on a case by case basis.
Remember that we CANNOT sign an EHC once the goods have left the UK.
5.Communicate with your colleagues
Ensure that other people in your team know what is going on. If only one person is ‘in the loop’ and they are absent or on leave, the whole process grinds to a halt. We will always ensure there is someone available to cover our holidays.
6. Provide the exact documents with the correct wording
We will usually need a variety of other documents to support what we are signing. These can include:-
i – approval/registration certificate of the manufacturer
ii – copies of production records
iii – evidence of supply chain
iv – ingredient specifications
v – manufacturer declarations (mandecs)
Please ensure these correctly match the consignment and in the case of mandecs, need to EXACTLY match the wording on the EHC. This can save quite a lot of time so we don’t have to keep checking and amending/returning incorrect documents.
Where the exporter is not the manufacturer, eg you have bought from a third party, ensure that you are able to obtain the documents that we require. A classic example is where people have bought infant formula from a wholesaler/cash and carry and want to export it, we simply cannot get the required information from the manufacturer, so are unable to sign the EHC.
6. Ensure the warehouse/coldstore are ready
If we are seeing the goods at an external site, it is useful to have a named contact there, who is expecting us. We also need to be able to physically inspect the goods. We sometimes find we turn up and are kept waiting as no one on reception seems to know what we are there for, or the goods are stored at high level in the racking, or they are packed that tightly so we cannot see all 4 sides of a pallet – all of which takes time to sort out.
7. The first time is the hardest!
It does get easier with time. The first time, especially for a new exporter, there is a lot more work to be done. We have to set up templates for various documents and do a very thorough check. This is the case whether you are sending one case or a full container. For further shipments of the same goods to the same country, we can reuse many of the documents, so things tend to me much quicker and smoother next time.
8. Too late!
We occasionally get panic phone calls from companies who have already shipped their goods or whose goods have arrived in port and been detained. Where we have never seen the goods, no EHC has been applied for and no permit has been issued, then there is not a lot we can do. Usually the goods end up being destroyed. If economically viable, it may be possible re reimport them back into UK (assuming they meet the import conditions) and we can start the process – but it will mean huge extra costs and time delays for you.
So please get in touch early on in the process….