In exporting, it is quite common for cargos to require
a variety of certificates, including certificates of origin, certificates
of value, certificates of health, Consular certificates, etc. before they
are permitted to be imported into the country of destination. The purpose
of a certificate is to provide preshipment confirmation of the status of
a particular aspect (health, value, condition, origin, etc.) of a specific
cargo. With these certificates, the cargo will not be permitted to be imported
and so certificates paly a very important role in the export process and
you need to ensure that (a) you have obtained the certificates required,
(b) that these certificates are correct and acceptable to the importing
authorities (i.e. that you cargo compliees with the requirements of the
importing authority). It is no good having a certificate, but one which
confirms that your cargo does not comply with the import requirements;
your cargo will simply not be permitted to be imported. The types of certificates
that you may be required to obtain, include:
Certificates of origin
A Certificate of Origin (C/O) is required by some countries
and is intended to certify to the importing authorities as to which country
the products being imported were manufactured in - that is, the C/O certifies
that the imported product meets the 'Country of Origin' requirements set by
the importing country and which are expected of their foreign suppliers. It
may be required that the C/O include information such as local material and
labour content. In many cases, a statement of origin printed on company letterhead
will suffice, although the document may need to be certified in some way.
In other instances, specific types of C/Os may be required, such as the Generalised
System of Preferences (GSP) Form A and the Chamber of Commerce C/O.
Certificates of Value (and Origin)
A Certificate of Value is intended to confirm the value
of a cargo to assist in quick clearing of the goods in the country of
destination. Often the Certificate of value is combined with a Certificate
of Origin and is referred to as a Certificate of Value and Origin (CVO).
A CVO outlines details about the labour and packing costs, royalties or
commissions (if applicable), freight charges and any overseas insurance
costs. The CVO also provides an exporter's declaration and statement,
in the form of clauses, about the value and origin of the goods.
Some countries, such as Australia, Canada, New Zealand,
the US and the UK, are very strict about letting in goods that might contain
bacteria or insects that could harm their agriculture. For this reason,
they may require a fumigation certificate - also referred to as a 'pest
control certificate - as proof that the packing materials e.g. wooden
crates, wood, wool etc., have been fumigated or sterilised. Fumigation
certificates usually contain details such as purpose of treatment, the
articles in question, temperature range used, chemicals and concentration
used, etc. Sometimes they may be required for sea shipments, but not for
air shipments. Your freight forwarder should be able to advise you as
to whether you require such as certificate.
Certificates of health
Certificates of health are normally required by the importing
country to ensure that the imported goods (plants, plant products, animals
and animal products) are in good health and carry no diseases, pests or any
health-threatening organisms. Such certificates of health confirm (a) the
origin of the shipment and, (b) that local authorities have inspected the
consignment and ensure its good health. Certificates of Health can be divided
into two types:
- Phytosanitary certificates which are required for the import of certain
plants and plant products such as seeds and flowers. Phytosanitary certificates
are governed by the International Plant Protection Convention and represent
an internationally accepted means of pest risk mitigation.
- Veterinary certificates which are required for the import of live animals,
as well as fresh, chilled or frozen animal products.
For contact details go to The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fishery website.
The exact import requirements are set by the importing country
but are usually communicated to the corresponding authorities in South Africa
(usually the Department of Agriculture). Your best option is therefore to
contact both the importer to determine what the import requirements are and
the Department of Agriculture to hear their side of the story. For Phytosanitary
certificates, contact the Department of Agriculture at:
The local authorities may charge a fee for such inspections
and issuing of certificates.
Pre-shipment inspection certificates
It is not uncommon for importers to want to confirm that the
to-be-exported goods meet their requirements. This is particularly so in instances
where it is essential that the goods meet certain standards. These same importers
unfortunately cannot always fly to all the countries from where they are buying
their products and for this reason, they may:
- Require that the shipment be inspected just before loading by an independent
third-party arranged and generally paid for by the importer. The exporter
will need to indicate an approximate time and place for this inspection
to take place.
- Ask the exporter to obtain the pre-shipment inspection certificate from
an independent third-party inspection firm which is then forwarded to the
importer. In this instance either the exporter or the importer may pay for
the inspection, depending what was negotiated in the contract.
The independent contractor - usually a recognised firm in this
field - will undertake a detailed inspection of equipment or materials after
manufacture, but prior to shipment. The scope of the inspection includes quantity
and quality, packing and marking and supervision of loading. A Certificate
of Inspection can be provided against a Letter of Credit and may be authorised
by a Chamber of Commerce. Occasionally, the importer may ask a trusted individual
to undertake the inspection on their behalf.
Furthermore, some countries may require certification for selected
products (this is independently from the importer) and in these instances
a pre-shipment inspection is a necessary step to receive an import certificate
for the shipment. Without this certificate the shipment will not be able to
clear customs in the country of destination.