Phytosanitary Certificates

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What are Export Certificates?

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). Authorized certification officials in the United States issue three export certificates:

1. PPQ Form 577, Phytosanitary Certificate

  • 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.

2. PPQ Form 578, Export Certificate, Processed Plant Products,

  • 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 EXCERPT as eligible for PPQ Form 578.

3. 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, 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.

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).

What is the purpose of a Phytosanitary Certificate?

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.

Importing countries 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).

For what types of commodities does PPQ provide certification?

Phytosanitary Certification:

  • Plants - Living plants and parts thereof, including seeds and germplasm [FAO, 1990; revised IPPC, 1997]. Any plant (including any plant part] for or capable of propagation, including a tree, a tissue culture a plantlet culture, pollen, a shrub, a vine, a cutting, a graft, a scion, a bud, a bulb, a root, and a seed. [Plant Protection Act]. As relates to seed potatoes, plants are rooted plants produced under a screenshow, greenhouse, or field environment.
  • Plant products - Unmanufactured material of plant origin (including grain) and those manufactured products that, by their nature or that of their processing, may create a risk for the introduction and spread of pests [FAO, 1990; revised IPPC, 1997; formerly plant product].

Export Certification:

  • Processed Plant Products - A commodity derived from a plant that has been subjected to a procedure believed to have rendered the commodity free from plant pests. See EXCERPT for a list of processed products that are eligible for certification for which an ACO may issue PPQ Form 578.

For what types of commodities does PPQ NOT provide certification?

  • Derivatives
  • Animal Products
  • Pharmaceuticals

Is my product eligible for a Phytosanitary Certificate?

If you are unsure, please contact the Yolo County Agriculture Department for clarification at (530) 666-8140.

What are the responsibilities of the exporters (shipper/agent)?

  • 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 (Yolo County Agriculture Department, (530) 666-8140) or downloaded by clicking here.
  • Contact an Accredited Certification Official (ACO) (Yolo County Agriculture Department, (530) 666-8140) 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.  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. 
  • 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.
  • 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 cannot 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 ACOs 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.
  • Provide for any required treatments, reconditioning, or other actions to meet the import requirements of the foreign country.

For more information regarding Exporter Responsibilities, please click here.

Are Phytosanitary Certificates mandatory?

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.

What is an Import Permit (IP)?

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.

Are transiting commodities eligible for export certification?

Foreign products that are transiting the United States under Custom's bond are NOT eligible for reexport certification.

Where can I get a Phytosanitary Certificate?

Phytosanitary Certificates are issued by authorized certification officials (Federal, State, or county) (California county only). In Yolo County, please contact the Agriculture Department at (530) 666-8140 for information and help with Phytosanitary Certificates.

For a Phytosanityary Certificate application, please click here.

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