Petfood companies that export, or want to export, can make
it as painless as possible by following six steps. This article
is based on Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS)
guidelines and assumes the exporter is from the US. However,
much of it applies to a petfood exporter from any country, but
instead of APHIS the home country's inspection service will be
The role of APHIS
The National Center for Import and Export (NCIE) is at the
forefront of APHIS' effort to safeguard the health of US
agricultural resources. Its many animal health experts work
closely with other federal agencies, states, foreign
governments, industry, trade associations, professional groups
and others to enhance international trade and cooperation,
while preventing the introduction of dangerous and costly pests
The primary role of APHIS is to assist US exporters in
meeting the import requirements of other countries. In this
role, APHIS negotiates with foreign governments to establish
export requirements. The agency also does the following:
The exporter's role
Countries may change their import requirements without
notice. In all cases, the exporter has the responsibility of
having their importer confirm with the responsible authority in
the importing country the import requirements prior to
shipping. The exporter should obtain any required animal health
product certificates prior to shipping any product. Most
countries will not recognize zoosanitary certificates issued
after products have shipped.
1. Use right requirements
The Veterinary Services (VS) branch of APHIS has created the
International Animal Product Export Regulations (IREGS) to
provide exporters of certain animal-origin products with the
requirements of importing countries. These IREGS are detailed
at www.aphis.usda.gov/ncie/iregs/products/. IREGS are
invaluable for finding the latest requirements for exporting
petfoods to various countries around the world, but should be
verified with the importer in all cases, because countries may
change their requirements at any time.
If you have any questions or concerns regarding the
procedures and requirements to obtain a health certificate for
an animal product being exported, you should contact the VS
Area Office covering the area from where the product will be
exported (or the area in which your office is located). To find
out the VS Area Office to contact, go to
www.aphis.usda.gov/animal_health/area_offices/. There are two
import/export VS Area Offices:
2. Prepare export certificate
Different countries require different paperwork. The VS Form
16-4 is the generic export certificate for animal products and
can be obtained through your APHIS area office. It is only used
for products that contain animal-origin ingredients.
For countries that do not accept the VS Form 16-4, APHIS
uses "Letterhead Certificates." You can apply for one by
contacting your Veterinary Services area office. Once you
complete the appropriate form, the area office will copy it
onto their letterhead, add a certificate number and then sign
and seal it.
3. Have all documents
Any export certificate that indicates a product has been
tested may not be endorsed until the test results have been
verified. If a negative result is cited or a product is said to
be "free" of something, lab results are needed. Test results
must clearly support the statement listed on the certificate
and relate to the lot of material being certified.
If a statement on the export certificate is not based on an
affidavit, it must be confirmed by inspection. If the importing
country requires the exporting facility to be inspected, make
sure it is done prior to export. Remember, APHIS-NCIE will not
sign a statement they cannot verify.
4. Obtain prior to export
Many countries, including European Union (EU) countries,
require export certificates to be endorsed prior to the date of
export. APHIS will not predate or postdate an export
certificate. VS area offices have been authorized to date
export certificates with the date they are received in their
office. Offices usually complete certificates in 24-48 hours.
But, sometimes they may be delayed due to workload or movement
5. Request timely re-inspections
To meet EU requirements, many facilities must be inspected
and approved. Please note that the inspection date is the date
the facility was physically inspected. The approval date is the
date the facility was actually approved as meeting all the
requirements. These dates can be weeks apart, so it's important
for facilities to be aware of both dates. Facilities must be
re-inspected one year from the inspection date. In order to
prevent lapses in approval, exporters should start the
re-approval process two months before the anniversary of you
6. Make inspections efficient
If you are exporting to several different countries and will
need several export certificates, ask that the APHIS inspector
do as many inspections as possible at the same time.
Exporting your petfood products can be a confusing process
and keeping up with the most up-to-date information can be
difficult. The following resources can help.
USDA's National Center for Import and Export (NCIE) helps
facilitate trade of agricultural products through defining
criteria for trade. Go to www.aphis.usda.gov/ncie.
The International Animal Product Export Regulations (IREGS)
site provides exporters with the APHIS understanding of
importing countries requirements for certain animal-origin
products. These IREGS are detailed at
The USDA's Foreign Agriculture Service (FAS):
provides links and information to the offices and responsible
parties for countries around the world. If NCIE doesn't have
the information you are looking for, FAS contacts can often
help clarify specific country requirements
APHIS area offices:
Area offices provide health certificate endorsements, are
knowledgeable about country requirements, provide export
certifications and are essential in facilitation of accurate
trade documentation. Go to
Export certificate forms:
The VS Form 16-4 is the generic export certificate for animal
products, and can be obtained through your APHIS area
The USDA's FAS is also a source of a plethora of export data
from around the world. Go to
www.export.gov provides information regarding export basics,
market information, tariff rates, trade leads, etc. It is a
collaborative effort of 19 government agencies.
Market Access Program
US exports of petfood are growing and exceed $1 billion. The
Pet Food Institute (PFI) uses the Market Access Program (MAP),
which is part of the FAS within the USDA. MAP includes a
program that matches marketing funds for promoting US petfoods
in other countries.
The PFI MAP program was launched in 1993. The program
currently operates in Japan, Mexico, China, Chile, Russia,
Taiwan and Central America. In 2007 PFI received US$1.3 million
for promotion of non-branded US petfood. PFI MAP activities
focus on consumer education and outreach to
veterinarians. The program is a major contributor to
building markets and maintaining access for US products.
PFI has submitted an application for funding for next year.
The final award amount is determined by the Farm Bill. For more
information, contact Kurt Gallagher at PFI in Washington, DC,
USA, Tel: +1.202.367.1120, kurt@ petfoodinstitute.org.
Here are the countries that import the most US petfood,
according to the USDA's FAS. Listed here are the
value of exports to these countries (US$ thousands).
Rankings based on 2006 data.
2006 vs. 2005
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