The purpose of a Phytosanitary Certificate is to avoid spreading pests, insects or parasites in plant products and other related services through foreign trade operations. It is also used by some countries to certify that the wood packaging standard (pallets, euro pallets, boxes) is free of pests.
This official document certifies that the plants or plant products covered by the certificate have been inspected according to appropriate procedures and are considered to be free from quarantines pests and practically free from other injurious pests, and that they are considered to conform with the current phytosanitary regulations of the importing country. The Phytosanitary Certificate facilitates trade but it is not a trade document.
The Phytosanitary Certificate must be issued before the customs clearance for export and/or import. It is granted for a period of sixty days covered the usual deadlines for shipping and international freight.
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.
Model certificates provide a standard wording and format that should be followed for the preparation of official phytosanitary certificates. This is necessary to ensure the validity of the documents, that they are easily recognized, and that essential information is reported.
Importing countries should only 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 used 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).
Importing countries should not require phytosanitary certificates for plant products that have been processed in such a way that they have no potential for introducing regulated pests, or for other articles that do not require phytosanitary measures.
NPPOs should agree bilaterally when there are differences between the views of the importing country and exporting country regarding the justification for requiring a phytosanitary certificate. Changes regarding the requirement for a phytosanitary certificate should respect the principles of transparency and non-discrimination.