The Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service has issued a final rule amending the meat and poultry inspection regulations to provide for an electronic export application and certification system that will be available as an alternative to the paper-based process. Exporters who choose to utilize the Public Health Information System Export Component will be charged a fee that will initially be set at $4.03 per application submitted and will be updated each year. This rule also provides flexibility in the requirements for official export inspection marks, devices and certificates and amends the egg product export regulations to parallel the meat and poultry product export regulations.
According to the FSIS, the PHIS Export Component will enable exporters to access their online accounts to electronically submit, track and manage applications for export certificates. Establishment management will be able to apply for approval of establishments for export when required by the foreign country; create, revise and submit product lists; cancel pending applications and certificates; request replacement certificates; and return exported products. Foreign governments will have the capability to view in PHIS all export certificates issued by FSIS for product intended for their country.
The new electronic application and certification system, the electronic application fee and the requirement to use a seven-digit export mark or unique identifier will be effective as of July 29, 2017. FSIS will initially implement the PHIS Export Component with one foreign country or a limited number of foreign countries and then gradually expand implementation to additional countries. In preparing for phased-in implementation FSIS is evaluating criteria such as the foreign country’s product volume and product diversity, geographic proximity to the U.S., and complexity of certification requirements.
After June 29, 2017, exporters can continue to submit paper applications for export certification but those who choose to do so will need to email, fax or mail the completed application, and any additional information required by the foreign country, to FSIS for entry into PHIS. However, FSIS warns that processing paper-based export certificate applications will be slower than for those submitted electronically.