Phytosanitary Certification

Article V.2a of the IPPC (1997) requires that member states perform inspections and issue phytosanitary certificates. A phytosanitary certificate is an official document that is issued by a national plant protection organization (NPPO), and indicates that consignments of plants, plant products or other regulated articles meet the specified phytosanitary requirements of an importing country. Generally, importing countries should only require a phytosanitary certificate for regulated articles, which include plant commodities and plant products such as; whole plants, bulbs, tubers, seeds for propagation, fruits and vegetables, cut flowers, branches, grain, growing medium, and whole plants or parts thereof.

As such, when transferring seed or other propagating material to another country, plant breeders must be aware of the phytosanitary requirements of the importing country, and ensure a proper phytosanitary certification is obtain. 

It should be noted that phytosanitary certificates may also be required for certain plant products that have undergone further processing when they too are a potential pathway or vector for the introduction of regulated pests (e.g. wood, cotton). It is recognized that other regulated articles may require a phytosanitary certificate when the reasons are technically justified. Examples of such regulated articles can be; empty shipping containers, vehicles, and organisms.

Model Phytosanitary Certificates

Phytosanitary certificates are based on a standard wording and format, so they can be easily recognized and validated by officials. They are issued by public officers who are technically qualified and authorized by the national plant protection organization (NPPO).  The phytosanitary certificate itself is a legal document and the original document must accompany the consignment and be presented to the appropriate officials upon arrival (under special circumstances it can be a certified copy or electronic of the certificate). Below can be found an example of standard wording on a model phytosanitary certificate:

No. __________

• A unique serial number associated with an identification system which allows "trace-back", facilitates audits, and is used for record keeping.

Plant Protection Organization of ____________

• The name of the official organization and the name of the country that is issuing the certificate.

TO: Plant Protection Organization(s) of ____________

• The name of the importing country and any countries the shipment transits through on its way to the final destination. 

Section I. Description of Consignment

Name and address of exporter: ____________

• This identifies the source of the consignment to facilitate "trace back" and audit by the exporting NPPO.

Declared name and address of consignee: ____________

• This identifies the name and address of the consignee.

Number and description of packages: ____________

• This should include details identifying the consignment and its component parts.

Distinguishing marks: ____________

• This includes any distinguishing that may assist in identifying the consignment. 

Place of origin: ____________

• Refers to place(s) from which a consignment received it’s phytosanitary status ( i.e. where it was possibly exposed to possible infestation or contamination by pests). Normally, this is the where the commodity was grown. In certain circumstances it may list more than one location if the commodity has been moved and stored at several locations. 

• Countries may require that “pest free area,” “pest free place of production,” or “pest free production site” be identified in sufficient detail in this section. 

Declared means of conveyance: ____________

• This identifies the mode of transportation, e.g; sea, air, road, rail, mail, and passenger. The ship’s name and voyage number or the aircraft's flight number should be included if known.

Declared point of entry: ____________

• This should identify the first point of arrival in the country of final destination. 

Name of produce and quantity declared: ____________

• The information should provide a description of the commodity and its quantity. International codes may be used to facilitate identification (e.g. customs codes) and internationally recognized units and terms should be used where appropriate.

Botanical name of plants: ____________

• This should accurately identify the plants and plant products using accepted scientific names (minimum genus level but ideally to the species level).

Certifying statement

• This is to certify that the plants, plant products or other regulated articles have been inspected/tested according to appropriate procedures and deemed to be free from the quarantine pests specified by the importing contracting party and to conform with the current phytosanitary requirements of the importing contracting party, including those for regulated non-quarantine pests.

Section II. Additional Declaration

• Additional declarations/information may be required by the importing country. These additional declarations may be related to specific phytosanitary regulations, import permits or bilateral agreements. 

Section III. Disinfestation and/or Disinfection Treatment

• The treatments listed should only be those which are acceptable to the importing country and are performed in the exporting country, or in transit, in order to meet the phytosanitary requirements of the importing country. Treatments can include de-vitalization and seed treatments.

Stamp of organization

• This includes the official seal, stamp or mark identifying the issuing NPPO. It may be directly printed on the certificate or added by the issuing official upon completion of the form. 

Name of authorized officer, date and signature

• The name of the issuing official and date should by typed or hand-written in legible capital letters, and the certificate requires signature.

Financial liability statement

• The inclusion of a financial liability statement in a phytosanitary certificate is optional.

In some instances plants, plant products, or processed plant products are re-exported to other countries. In general terms, the components and requirements for these phytosanitary certificates are the same as the ones issued for export. If the consignment is split up and exported separately, the original phytosanitary certificate and the phytosanitary certificates for re-export must accompany the consignment. If the consignment has been grown or propagated for a specific time (depending on the commodity concerned, but usually one growing season or more) the consignment can be considered to have changed its country of origin and requires re-certification.

ePhyto (Electronic Phytosanitary Certification):

The IPPC is currently in the process of developing a secure mechanism for electronic transmission of certification data directly between the exporting and importing NPPO’s, otherwise known as an ePhyto. The timely access to and processing of plants and plant products at various ports of entries is important to reduce wastage and improve product viability. The change from the current paper-based certification verification process to an electronic based system (ePhyto) has several advantages including the reduction of; fraudulent documentation, delays for receipt and processing of certificate documents, and data entry and duplication by NPPO’s.

As ePhyto has not yet been adopted by all IPPC contracting parties, and it is important to contact each individual exporting NPPO to determine if they have an ePhyto service in place. 

As an example, please refer to the New Zealand ePhyto system website.