The following Frequently Asked Questions are associated with the phytosanitary certification for agricultural commodities and export certification for processed plant products.
Phytosanitary certificates are issued to indicate that consignments of plants, plant products or other regulated articles meet specified phytosanitary import requirements and are in conformity with the certifying statement of the appropriate model certificate. Phytosanitary certificates should only be issued for this purpose.
Model certificates provide a standard wording and format that should be followed for the preparation of official phytosanitary certificates. This is necessary to ensure the validity of the documents, that they easily recognized, and that essential information is reported.
Importing countries should only require phytosanitary certificates for regulated articles. These include commodities such as plants, bulbs and tubers, or seeds for propagation, fruits and vegetables, cut flowers and branches, grain, and growing medium. Phytosanitary certificates may also be use for certain plant products that have been processed where such products, by their nature or that of their processing, have a potential for introducing regulated pests (e.g. wood, cotton). A phytosanitary certificate may also be required for other regulated articles where Phytosanitary measures are technically justified (e.g. empty containers, vehicles, and organisms).
Importing countries should not require phytosanitary certificates for plant products that have been processed in such a way that they have no potential for introducing regulated pests, or for other articles that do not require phytosanitary measures.
NPPOs should agree bilaterally when there are differences between the views of the importing country and exporting country regarding the justification for requiring a phytosanitary certificate. Changes regarding the requirement for a phytosanitary certificate should respect the principles of transparency and non-discrimination [FAO, 1990].
Only Plants and unprocessed or unmanufactured plant products are eligible for phytosanitary certificates. Certain processed plant products are eligible for the Export Certificate, including Processed Plants and plant products that have officially entered US commerce but were grown or produced in countries other than the United States, its possessions, and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. Foreign products are not eligible for a FPC, but may be certified for reexport with PPQ Form 579, Phytosanitary Certificate for Reexport.
1. Apply, in writing, for the inspection, sampling, testing, and certification of commodities offered for export. Certificates can be issued at the point of origin, at a port where the shipment will transit, or at the actual port of export. PPQ Form 572, Application for Inspection and Certification of Domestic Plants and Plant Products for Export, can be requested from the nearest ACO office or download form by clicking here.
2. Contact an Accredited Certification Official (ACO) far enough in advance of the shipping or loading dates to allow the ACO to determine the phytosanitary import requirements and conduct required sampling, inspecting, testing, etc. in advance of the shipping or loading dates and specified time limits. Refer to Exporter or Shipper Responsiblities Related to the Export Certification of Plants and Plant Products.
Exporters must be aware of and plan for any time limit restrictions a foreign country may specify for the period between date of inspection or date of certificate issuance and shipping date. If a time limit is not specified by a country the policy on time limits for inspections is not more than 30 days before export.
3. Provide all necessary documentation, including, import permits, bills of lading, manifests, shipping invoices, foreign phytosanitary certificates, and inspection certificates. It is the exporter's responsibility to provide official documents stating import requirements if they differ from those that USDA-APHIS-PPQ has. Official documents may be an import permit, special authorization, or recent correspondence from the National Plant Protection Organization (NPPO) of the foreign country.
Exporters are responsible for ensuring official documents are translated into English; USDA-APHIS-PPQ does not provide translation services. Bilingual information is acceptable as long as one of the languages is English.
4. Make the commodity available for inspection, sampling, testing, etc. Shipments cannot be inspected on board aircraft or ships. Additionally, commodities which are loaded into maritime containers in bulk form can not be inspected once the container has been loaded. It is the exporter's responsibility to ensure that they make arrangements to have the consignment sampled and/or inspected prior to loading containers.
Ensure the commodity is accessible to the ACO s to verify, sample and inspect the consignment. In addition, other shipping documents should be marked or stamped to prevent the shipment from being loaded before the inspection is conducted.
5. Providing labor to open and close packages for inspection and for providing adequate facilities to perform the inspection. Such facilities include supplies, equipment, and proper lighting required for an efficient inspection before certification.
6. Provide for any required treatments, reconditioning, or other actions to meet the import requirements of the foreign country.
7. Export only those plants or plant products that have been properly inspected and certified under a Federal plant export certificate.
8. Safeguard the certified shipment from infestation between the date the shipment was sampled and the actual shipping date, and ensure that the certified shipment departs within the time limits specified by the importing country.
9. Comply with U.S. export control regulations. The Federal government controls the exportation of U.S. goods to all foreign countries. The Department of Commerce is the authority for licensing most items for export. Other Federal agencies such as the Agricultural Marketing Service and the Federal Grain Inspection Service handle the certification for specific products.
Export certificates are documents that attest to the phytosanitary condition of plants or plant products and are issued by an authorized certification official (Federal, State, or county) (California county only). Three export certificates are issued by authorized certification officials in the United States:
PPQ Form 577 and PPQ Form 579 follow the format of the international model proposed at the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) in Rome in 1979. A user fee is charged for each form, and all export certificates must be completed in the English language (typed or legibly handwritten).
Phytosanitary certificates are not mandatory to export plants and plant products from the United States. The certificates are issued to assist exporters in meeting the plant quarantine requirements of the importing country.
Phytosanitary Certificates are issued by authorized certification officials (Federal, State, or County) (California county only).
The Federal Phytosanitary Certificate (FPC), PPQ Form 577, is an accountable inspection certificate used to certify domestic plants and unprocessed or unmanufactured plant products for export. The purpose of the FPC is to certify that plants and plant products conform with the current phytosanitary requirements of the importing country.
The FPC, PPQ Form 577, is an accountable inspection certificate used to certify only domestic plants and unprocessed or unmanufactured plant products for export. The purpose of the FPC is to certify that plants and plant products conform with the current phytosanitary requirements of the importing country. Foreign products may be certified for reexport with PPQ Form 579, Phytosanitary Certificate for Reexport.
An accountable form, PPQ Form 579, used to certify that, based on an original foreign phytosanitary certificate and/or an additional inspection, the plants or plant products officially entered the United States, are considered to conform to the current phytosanitary regulations of the importing country, and have not been subjected to the risk of infestation or infection during storage in the United States. PPQ Form 579 may also re-export to a U.S. Affiliated Island.
An accountable certificate, PPQ Form 578, used to certify eligible processed products for which PPQ Form 577 or PPQ Form 579 cannot be issued. The intended purpose of the Export Certificate, Processed Plant Products is to assist U.S. exporters whose shipments may be placed in jeopardy is such a document is not issued.
Plant products processed or manufactured to the degree that they are unlikely to harbor injurious pests. Processed products are not eligible for certification with the Phytosanitary Certificate, PPQ Form 577 or PPQ Form 579, even when the importing country specifically requires a Phytosanitary Certificate; however, the Export Certificate, Processed Plant Products (PPC), PPQ Form 578, may be issued for processed products that are specified in PExD as eligible for PPQ Form 578.
Plants and unprocessed or unmanufactured plant products grown or produced in the United States, its possessions, and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. Federal Phytosanitary Certificates, PPQ Form 577, are authorized for domestic plants and plant products.
Plants and plant products that have officially entered US commerce but were grown or produced in countries other than the United States, its possessions, and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. Foreign products are not eligible for an FPC, but may be certified for reexport with PPQ Form 579, Phytosanitary Certificate for Reexport.
Official document authorizing importation of a commodity in accordance with specified phytosanitary import requirements [FAO, 1990; revised FAO, 1995; ICPM, 2005].
The IP is issued to the consignee who is the importer in the receiving country--not to the exporter. If the exporter has a copy of the permit, the exporter would have received it from the importer. Also, if the IP is in a foreign language, it must be translated in the United States and notarized as a true translation.
A document issued by a bank authorizing an exporter to draw a stated amount of money from the issuing bank. Letters of credit are strictly fiduciary document. For the purpose of phytosanitary certification, letters of credit cannot be considered official notifications of changes or exceptions to plant quarantine regulations, which must come from the plant protection services of the foreign countries. Therefore, letters of credit are not phytosanitary documents and cannot be referenced on a Federal plant export certificate.
Foreign products that are transiting the United States under Custom's bond are NOT eligible for reexport certification.
Plants and unprocessed or unmanufactured plant products listed in PExD as being prohibited entry by the importing country are ineligible for phytosanitary certification, unless an import permit or other special authorization is provided from the plant protection service of the importing country.
The China Certificate of Heat Treatment (PPQ Form 553) was a certificate issued by an authorized certification official endorsing the statement of an exporter that the coniferous wood packaging materials (WPM) associated with a shipment for export had been heat treated in the United States by being subjected to a minimum core temperature of 56ºC for 30 minutes. Effective January 1, 2006, the PPQ Form 553 is neither required nor accepted by China. Therefore, PPQ and State/County cooperators are no longer endorsing this form. WPM for all commodities entering China should be treated and certified in accordance with the standards established in the International Standards for Phytosanitary Measures (ISPM 15).
Submit the worksheet illustrated in the nearest Export Certification Specialist (ECS) in your area. Export Services may be able to assist applicants whose shipments are being detained for phytosanitary reasons. In order for Export Services to assist with consignments being held at the port of destination, Export Services must have copies of as much of the documentation pertaining to the consignments as possible. All documentation must be legible and in English. The ECS must fully review all documentation for completeness and accuracy before forwarding to Export Services. The Held Shipment Worksheet is available in fill able .pdf and Microsoft Word format.
Additional questions concerning Export Certificates may be directed to the Export Certification Specialist in your State or the State of export.
Questions may also be directed to Export Services by calling (301) 851-2309 or by e-mailing PPQExportServices@aphis.usda.gov