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Can I change some parts of an Export Health Certificate?

Posted by andrewivesonadmin | Posted 18th November 2019 | Blog, News, and Uncategorised

The short answer is that it depends on which part of it. We occasionally find an EHC does not quite ‘fit’ the product being exported, for example it may stipulate that your product is derived from raw ingredients of UK origin only, when your raw ingredients come from an EU country or the import permit requires a statement that doesn’t appear on the EHC.

There are different sections to the EHC.

1. Free text boxes

This is for the exporter to add text, usually at the time of application and typically refers to product description, quantity, consignee etc As long as this information is accurate and can be verified you can pretty much put anything in here that is relevant to the box in question.

For example, if a box was titled ‘net weight’ you would only put that figure in eg 250kg, or if was ‘shipping marks’ you could add a batch or lot number.

A few points of note.

  • If the information will not all fit in the box eg multiple products or batches, put ‘See schedule 1’ and we can add this as a separate sheet
  • You could also leave the box blank and we can add it manually by hand once known
  • Some countries (notably China) have been known to reject EHCs with hand written text or schedules so check this first
  • We cannot leave a box blank after signing such that it could be completed by a third party
  • TRACES certificates are very particular about how numbers are entered with regards commas and full stops eg 25.000 vs 25,000


2.Deletable sections

These are usually marked by an asterisk (*) and are usually ‘and/or‘ or ‘either/or‘ options, for example where more than one commodity can be certified for, or there is more than one heat treatment that is acceptable.

We would need to cross out any non-applicable sections with a pen and ruler.

A few points of note.

  • In most cases, the deletion does not need to be stamped and initially or signed, but there are some cases where this is necessary, and normally noted in the notes for guidance with each EHC
  • Sometimes more than one of the deletable sections can apply; if all the products being exported meet all the sections, then we can just choose to leave one of them in and delete the other(s)
  • If the products vary eg a mixed load of pasteurised and raw milk/thermised cheese, where some products meet one statement but not the other, we may need to use two separate EHCs and split the products accordingly.


3. Fixed sections

These are usually the health attestations and have no asterisk (*). As the EHC is an official, Government issued document, the three golden rules we must follow are:-

i – we cannot delete these statements

ii – we cannot alter the wording of these statements

iii – we cannot add extra text or statements


Sometimes this may unfortunately mean that your product cannot be exported to that country. However there are certain circumstances where we can get around this or request an exemption.














1. Use an alternative EHC

In some cases there are a number of very similarly worded EHCs and it may simply be case of using an alternative one. We can check these and advise you if this might be the case.


2. Request a ‘letter of derogation’.

In short, a derogation letter is an official communication provided by the veterinary officers at APHA to allow us to complete and sign the export certificate where an alteration is required or a statement we are signing for is not applicable or an extra statement needs adding.

In order to receive a derogation letter the authorities of the importing country must first be contacted (normally by the importer), made aware of the issue of the wording and agree in writing that they would be willing to accept those products on that certificate. If this is agreed then we can forward the official communication from the importing country on to APHA, along with the specific EHC it refers to.

This agreement must come from the veterinary authorities of the importing country, rather than a shipping or customs agent.

It is entirely at the APHA’s discretion as to whether they then agree to allow the derogation letter to enable the EHC to be signed. The letter is very specific and give us precise instructions as to what we can alter, add or delete and will usually either refer to a specific EHC, or may have a time limit, either a year or to the expiry date of the import permit.

It is advisable to attach a copy of the derogation letter with all other documents for each import.


The derogation letter will go on to list the products it applies to, and the actions we need to take.

3. Request a new EHC

APHA may chose to either create a new version of an existing EHC eg V2 instead of V1, or even create a new EHC all together. However this can take some time as it needs agreeing between DEFRA and the destination country. This would more likely be the case if the export was planned to be an on-going, regular shipment. APHA would also need to ensure that adding any extra statements to an EHC would not prevent its use by exporters of other commodities.


Please do not hesitate to contact us to see if we are able to help as we have good experience of knowing what we can and cannot request a derogation for. In addition, Simon Hall, one of our consultant OVs has experience of drafting these EHCs from his time working for APHA and so can provide useful insight in to what may be acceptable.

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