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Stakeholder Alert: USDA APHIS Permanent Allowance of Copies of Veterinary Health Certificates for Select Animal Product and Byproduct Imports

The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) will continue to efficiently support trade of animal origin commodity imports by permanently implementing the use of copies of health certification for select animal products and byproducts.

APHIS has provided the following guidance to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agriculture specialists assigned to review required import information for animal products and byproducts regulated by USDA APHIS. This guidance replaces previous editions that were communicated with CBP.

CBP’s agriculture specialists may accept all import documents ‒ including veterinary certificates ‒ uploaded to the Automated Commercial Environment (ACE) Document Image System (DIS) regardless of disease status of the exporting country. ACE is the United States’ single window customs system used by CBP to collect information on imports (import declarations). ACE manages DIS to collect scans of documents and requires specific customs brokerage software. Acceptable import documents include veterinary certificates, endorsed by a full-salaried veterinarian of the exporting country, and other supporting documents for veterinary import permit requirements.

USDA APHIS continues to require original hard copy veterinary health certificates, endorsed by a full-salaried veterinarian of the exporting country, under the following conditions:

Shipments of high-risk products:

  • Bovine serum: fetal bovine serum, newborn calf serum, calf serum, donor bovine serum, adult bovine serum from all countries; and
  • Fresh and/or frozen meat and poultry from all countries in situations when the original hard copy veterinary health certificate has not been provided to USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS). If the original certificate has been provided to FSIS, CBP agriculture specialists may accept a copy of the certificate uploaded to ACE-DIS.

Stakeholders are reminded that APHIS Core Message Set data must be submitted in the ACE when an APHIS permit or foreign government certificate is required by APHIS as a condition for import of the commodity. The permit and/or certificate number and other identifying information must be accurately and thoroughly entered in the Message Set. When both permit and certificate are present, be sure to include both in the APHIS Core Message Set. Failure to submit required APHIS Core Message Set data may result in agriculture holds being placed on shipments, subjecting the shipment to entry delays or refusal.

Shipments arriving in the United States without a veterinary health certificate, either original or copy uploaded into ACE-DIS, will be refused entry, or held until the required documents are received. If there is reason to believe a certificate uploaded into ACE-DIS is fraudulent, CBP retains the shipment on hold until the original hard copy veterinary health certificate is reviewed and verified.

For any questions regarding import of animal products and by-products, please contact Animal Product Imports at 301-851-3300 and select option 4, or send via e-mail to .

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