Export Health Certificates (EHCs) are official Government documents, issued by APHA (Animal and plant health agency) and signed by an official veterinarian (OV) to certify that certain foods and products of animal origin meet certain 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 over 1,500 certificates available, for over 130 countries and they all have slightly different requirements. They are split into a range of commodities:
- Meat (lamb, pork, beef, poultry, venison – including prime cuts, offal and processed meat products)
- Dairy (milk, whey, yoghurt, cheese, butter & ice cream)
- Hides, skins, wool, feathers & lanolin
- Collagen, gelatin & casings
- Fish and fishery products
- Pet food and animal feeds
Our top ten tips can be found below….
1. CHECK THAT YOUR PRODUCT CAN BE EXPORTED
Before going any further, ensure you can actually send your product to the country required – some countries currently ban imports from UK eg the USA bans beef due to BSE and South Africa bans poultry due to ‘bird flu’.
Our website has a dropdown menu to help you find out – http://www.amivetexports.co.uk/export-certification/
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 needs to apply to APHA for the certificate, enclosing a draft copy and an application form, which are then sent to the OV. 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.
3. 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.
4. 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, Australia and the USA.
5. MANUFACTURER DECLARATIONS (MANDECS)
Many EHCs require declaration(s) from the manufacturer and/or exporter to confirm certain conditions have been met. A person of seniority within the business, who could reasonably be expected to have knowledge that the information they are stating is correct, must sign these. The document must 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 and the OV must not ‘recklessly attest’ to sign an EHC based on what someone else has signed. A list of approved signatories must be submitted to APHA.
6. APPLICATION FORM (EXA07 or EXA10)
These must be completed and submitted with the draft certificate to APHA to apply for an EHC. They must be completed correctly. Common mistakes include putting an incorrect export date or not allowing enough time, and not stating the dates of slaughter and/or processing. 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 are sent to us for checking first before submission to APHA.
7. CHOOSE YOUR OV CAREFULLY
Due to the complexity of the EHCs, it is vital to pick an OV who is experienced in the export field and 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 will not allow handwritten entries and that the OV must be specifically on the Chinese list, with a specimen signature submitted? Will they work early mornings, evenings and weekends do 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?
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 a lot of logistics to consider. Speak to other agencies at an early stage.
Chamber of commerce – can provide certificates of origin and advice 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
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.