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Monday Morning eBriefing

APHIS Reports Dramatic Increase in E-Phyto Certificates from Broker

Jun 20, 2022 by Sarah Geiger
The NCBFAA Regulatory Agencies Committee (RAC) continues to work with the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) to promote the use of e-Phyto certificates by the trade. We heard promising news from APHIS that since the RAC began collaborating with the agency in February, the number of e-Phyto certificate numbers referenced in the PGA Message Set has skyrocketed – from 477 in the first quarter to 5,932 so far in the second quarter! Even though this is just a start, APHIS was pleased with this outcome.

The e-Phytosanitary certificate offers a visionary solution to the challenge of transferring phytosanitary certificates through the supply chain. Phytosanitary certificates are issued by exporting countries to verify that plant and plant health products meet the country’s health requirements and are free of pests and disease. Historically, these certificates have been issued on paper, which are easy to lose, vulnerable to fraud and a drag on the supply chain.
 
The E-Phyto Hub is a paperless, global, and digital exchange for electronic phytosanitary certificates that allows each country’s electronic system to exchange data with its trading partners through a central hub. The E-Phyto project also includes a generic centralized web-based system for developing countries which do not have their own system. Currently, 81 countries participate in the e-Phyto project, either for imports, exports, or both, with many more due to be added in the coming months. See this list of Participating Countries.

Customs brokers should become familiar with the e-Phyto certificates and the advantages they provide. A good starting point is this Guidance Document recently posted on APHIS’ ACE website.

The guidance addresses some of the biggest obstacles to more widespread use of the E-Phytos. For example, last year APHIS received 100,000 e-Phytos. Yet only 500 were included in the Message Set by brokers. If the customs broker had known an e-Phyto had been issued by the exporting country, he or she could have entered the certificate number in the Message Set, thus avoiding the need to upload the copy in DIS. Other advantages of e-Phyto include: (a) if an e-Phyto is used, it eliminates the need for originals to be presented and (b) it can be replaced virtually in an instant if the paper version is needed.

The new APHIS guidance provides useful information to help customs brokers recognize that an e-Phyto has been transmitted and how to enter the certificate number in the Message Set. Send any questions about the e-Phytos to RAC@ncbfaa.org.