The Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service is requesting comments by Oct. 6 on its plan to implement the Public Health Information System Export Component, an electronic export application and certification system that will be available as an alternative to the paper-based process. Only meat and poultry products will initially be included, with egg products and casings to be added at a later date.

The PHIS Export Component will enable exporters to electronically submit, track, and manage applications for export certificates, including bundling multiple applications and supplemental documents into a single file (which will be tested before implementation). Foreign governments will have the capability to view all export certificates issued by FSIS for product intended for their country. FSIS will be able to digitally sign export certificates and to electronically inventory and track export certificate information, which will enable it to review exact images of export certification documents prior to approval. In the future, FSIS intends to support electronic export certification, which will allow it to transfer certification data directly to the certification system of the foreign government’s competent authority.

FSIS will initially implement the export component on June 29, 2018, with the following countries: Afghanistan, Andorra, Australia, the Bahamas, Bolivia, Burundi, Cape Verde, Cook Islands, Ethiopia, Gambia, Guinea, Liberia, Mozambique, New Zealand, Paraguay, San Marino, Tanzania, the United Arab Emirates, and Uruguay. FSIS states that starting implementation with countries that import a moderate amount of products covered under FSIS jurisdiction from the U.S. will help it build a foundation for gradually expanding implementation to higher-volume importing countries that have more complex certification processes.

After June 29, 2018, exporters can continue to submit paper export certification applications but those who choose to do so will need to email or mail the completed application, and any additional information required by the foreign country, to FSIS for entry into PHIS. However, FSIS has warned that processing paper-based export certificate applications will be slower than for those submitted electronically.

FSIS notes that it has revised the data elements within the export certification application (FSIS form 9060-6) but that industry is not to use the revised application until June 29, 2018.

Starting no sooner than Jan. 1, 2019, exporters who choose to utilize the PHIS Export Component will be charged a fee. FSIS is recalculating the initial amount of this fee and will publish it in the Federal Register no later than 30 days prior to its assessment.

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