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Port Health Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently asked questions about Exports and Imports – Border Control Post (BCP) at our ports.


If we supply a customer (who later wants to export from their own cold store with other goods) or deliver to a groupage transport depot somewhere, we ask North East Lincolnshire Council (NELC) to sign one of these attestations to confirm the product details that will later go on the Export Health Certificate (EHC) issued by the customers local Official Veterinarian (OV)/Environmental Health Officer (EHO) when goods are exported? Presumably, this would still have a charge of £110 from NELC the same way a EHC would?

If a company is using an Export Logistics Hub or Certifying a certificate outside of the area that the product was originally manufactured, then there will be a requirement for the local authority in which the products are manufactured or packaged to provide an attestation to support the EHO/OV in the signing of an EHC. Depending on the nature of the product and the frequency of export, these attestations can be provided on a risk-based approach so it may not be that you require one to accompany each load.

The charge for a Supporting Attestation is £50 and the length of their validity is dependent on the Scheme they are using (30 days for the Groupage Export Facilitation Scheme (GEFS)) or up to 6 months for the Risk Based Certification Scheme for Fishery Products. See Porrt Health Charges.

For products previously imported to the UK from non-EU countries and that have not been further processed prior to export, copies of the import documents (CHEDPs) showing clearance at a UK BCP will provide equivalent assurance to a Local Authority Support Attestation.

If we are asking NELC to sign an EHC for a full truck load of various products leaving our store, where we supply for example, photos of labels confirming the information on the EHC, do we still have to have signed up to (Groupage Export Facilitation Scheme (GEFS) because we are sending out various products on one truck or as it’s a direct export from our store would we not be required to be signed up for GEFS and NELC could still sign an EHC as normal?

If you are sending out a full load of fishery products directly from your site here to the point of destination, then you would not have to sign up to GEFS and NELC can provide fishery product EHCs that would cover the whole consignment.

Can the exporter still just ask for an EHC for goods to load from his store and just provide the usual proof of product details as we would do? Surely, this is all that would be necessary without the exporting customer having to get all these attestations?

You can have a certificate issued from your site for the goods, however if your consignment is to be consolidated at another location and form part of a groupage load, you have to take into consideration that some elements of the information on that certificate may differ to the information on the overall load, i.e., transport details. A Certifying Officer at the place of dispatch may use the EHC in place of a Supporting Attestation however this is probably a more expensive route to take than providing an attestation.

I would like to understand more about the plans and resources to complete the EHC online certificate checks also the physical checks. Would a Certified Officer have to come to site to inspect every outload?

The mechanism for applying for Export Health Certificates to the EU and Export Health Certificates for some non-EU countries is through Export Health Certificate Online (EHCO), which is an online process set up by the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA). Exporters would have to register on this site, make their application for a certificate, which is then sent through to their nominated Certifying Officer or organisation in the case of NELC. We would then ask you to notify us of the date and time of loading – [email protected] and our officers will make arrangements to visit and inspect the consignment.

There is no obligation to inspect every consignment and we are permitted to apply a risk-based approach to certifying loads that we have not inspected, however given that we are still in the initial stages of certifying goods to the EU and we are still finding issues on inspection routinely, we are currently inspecting each one. We very much anticipate that there will be a point in the not-so-distant future where we are not inspecting each consignment and will rely on the information provided to us.

How long will it take to produce the EHC?

The time it takes to certify a certificate very much depends on the accuracy of information provided to us in Export Health Certificate Online (EHCO) and the complexity of the load. On submission of an application, officers will check the information within it to ensure that the information is correct. This will be cross referenced with any supporting information that has been uploaded, i.e. packing lists and / or photographs. Each export will be allocated a two hour time slot when booking in their load.

We will make as many necessary changes as possible prior to the date and time of loading in the hope that all information remains correct and the certificate can be handed over at this time. Any discrepancies between the information provided to us and the physical load will result in a delay to this process, and potential of additional charges if an ammendment is required.

Will NELC take the EHC to you or do you have to collect it from NELC? (If the driver needs to take it with them)

If we are already in possession of all the information required for the certificate, including transport details and seal numbers, if applicable, the certificate can be completed in advance and the officer will bring it with them. If there are any discrepancies that result in amendments to the certificate, then it may be that you are required to collect the amended certificate from our office.

If we are not planning to visit the consignment, you will be notified and expected to make arrangement to collect the certificate from our office at Europarc Innovation Centre, Europarc, Grimsby, DN37 9TT.

Guidance on what exporters should put on the EHC

We have issued multiple guidance documents on how to register on EHCO, a step-by-step process on how to complete the information required and a guide on the certificates to use. The relevant guidance documents can be made available on request.

What Export Health Certificate do we need to use when apply on Export Health Certificate Online (EHCO)

Certificate 8361 -Live fish, crustaceans, certain fishery products (i.e. Cephalopods) and products from these animals intended for human consumption to the European [SD(1] Union and Northern Ireland:

Certificate 8364- Live bivalve molluscs, echinoderms, tunicates, marine gastropods and products from these animals intended for human consumption to the European Union and Northern Ireland:

Certificate 8622-Export fishery products intended for human consumption to Ukraine:

Rest of world fishery product EHC’s are completed on a NELC template – Bookings can be made at [email protected]

Imports – Border Control Post (BCP)

Will we be pre-informed which containers are selected for exam?

Ideally, yes but it all depends on how we receive the information. We are aware that there are much shorter journey times and if we solely rely on manifest information to select units, then we could be receiving the manifests on the same day that the units are arriving. We still have some work to do in this area, but we are working closely with the Port Operators and hopefully our stakeholders, who we would very much appreciate an input from.

If importers are in a position to be able to present information in advance, then we may have a better mechanism for selecting units without the need to rely on the manifest information.

In the event a trailer is selected for exam which we understand to be the minimum requirement of 1% how long would you expect the trailer to be held for ?

This very much depends on how the consignment is presented.  We fully anticipate that mixed or groupage consignments (especially handballed units) may take longer to unload and re-load than     palletised consignments. This is where the exporters can assist with the process, and ensure that any consignments that contain goods that are subject to controls and those that are not are packaged      in a way that allows us easy access to the goods of interest.

Will there be staff / vets available and working 24 hours or should our customers look to avoid certain times / days or weekend arrivals etc?

We are not proposing a 24/7 service based at Grimsby/Immingham because we did not believe from our discussions and enquiries in relation to vessel arrivals would warrant a 24/7 presence. Instead we are planning the service to operate Monday to Friday 6am to 8pm and Saturday/Sunday 9am to 5pm. The specifics around the weekend provision is subject to change but we are working     towards an 8 hour provision each day.

Will there be any priority for fresh or chilled which will adversely affect the frozen cargo?

We are in the process of looking at vessel schedules, liaising with stakeholders and others that will influence the way in which we operate. We are anticipating having a much wider range of goods to deal with, that presents its own challenge in relation to cross contamination, the different presentations and goods that will require a greater degree of clean up than others. Prioritising various product categories is something that we will of course consider if the vessel schedules and movements allow us to do so. Live, chilled and/or perishable would be the obvious priorities.

What are the expected number of exams per day?

We are planning our service based on 100% identity checks for non-EU cargo and 1% for EU goods for the various product categories. Our current capacity at a BCP with 1 bay is 20 examinations a day between the hours of 8:30 – 12:00 / 13:00 – 16:00. We are currently interrogating manifest information to assess how many more examinations a day will be required based on the 1%. We will then staff the facility and amend the operating hours based on this information, instead of focusing on the number of examinations we can do a day.

We understand that the selection for exam will be 1% for EEA/EU cargo – when will this be confirmed?

This has now been confirmed by Central Government and there is nothing to suggest that there will be a move away from this from Day 1. We have however been made aware that it may be reviewed the following year, so we are taking this into account when planning our service.

Will the rate for examination be different for EU/EEA and other third countries i.e., not standardised for all cargo?

In terms of charging, we are still using the harmonised EU rates until we get a steer from Central Government on what the UK’s charging regime is going to be. Similarly, charging is something that is discussed on the various forums, meetings etc for EU goods but yet, we have still not received any update on this.

In terms of rate for documentary, identity, and physical checks, we are progressing on the basis that non-EU rates will continue as normal, 100% Documentary, 100% identity and a reduced percentage for physical checks based on the commodity and country of origin. We are aware however that these are currently under DEFRA/APHA review.

EU/EEA will initially be set at 100% documentary checks, 1% identity checks and 1% physical checks.

Will the % be applied to other countries i.e., China / Vietnam etc?

We have been advised that this is currently being reviewed.

Do you have any information for a EU tariff for Port Heath vet and examination fees?

We believe that the charges will be based on the current regime but we are still awaiting clarification. Our charges are available on our website: Grimsby and Immingham Port Health Charges.

Are there any plans or discussions in place to accept scanned copies of all documents including the health certificate for short sea shipments?

There will be an expectation from the 1st April 2021 to pre-notify the BCP prior to arrival through IPAFFS. An electronic copy of the Health Certificate should also be uploaded. The instruction is that the original documentation should travel with the consignment.

We appreciate that this presents a challenge for unaccompanied consignments and obtaining those documents for the shorter journey times and these concerns have been raised with DEFRA. We will of course keep you updated as soon as we receive a response.

Please can you advise the process for documentation checks, can we upload copy docs on IPAFF’s or do we have to email copies and how long do you anticipate a trailer to be held while doc checks are complete?

The IPAFFS system is in the process of further development and has been designed with the intention that the documents can be uploaded into the system on the relevant entry. We would expect the documents to be uploaded as part of the pre-notification process and therefore should have access to them before the consignment arrives into port. The time it takes to complete the documentary checks will vary based on the complexity of the consignment but we will strive to complete these as soon as possible. The earlier you pre-notify and present the documentation to us, the greater chance we have of completing these before the consignment arrives into port. It also gives us more time to discuss any irregularities found that may cause delays.