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Frequently Asked Questions on Certificates of Free Sale

A food export certificate is a paper or electronic document required by an importing nation that describes and/or attests to animal health, product safety, production or processing methods, packaging, labeling or specific attributes of a food/food ingredient intended for international destinations. An export certificate may also attest to the status of the manufacturing or packaging establishment producing such food/food ingredients for export.

In many cases, foreign governments are seeking official assurance that products exported to their countries can be marketed in the U.S. or meet specific U.S. or State regulations, for example, current Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs).
          Alcoholic beverages
        Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms: Wholesaler's Basic Permits
Animals and animal by-products
USDA-Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service: veterinary Animal Health Certificates, certifying animals are free of certain diseases
Biotechnology-products derived from
USDA-Foreign Agricultural Service: Biotechnology Certificates

Federal - FDA-Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN)-Office of Colors and Cosmetics

Dairy products
USDA-Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) (for FDA)

Dietary supplements, infant formulas, medical foods
FDA-CFSAN-Office of Nutritional Products, Labeling, and Dietary supplements
Food additives
FDA-CFSAN-Office of Food Additive Safety
Fresh and processed fruits and vegetables, cotton, poultry and tobacco
USDA-AMS: Quality Grading and Certification Services
USDA-Grain Inspection, Packing and Seed Administration (GIPSA) and occasionally issued by States: Grain Quality Certificates
Irradiated products
USDA-FAS: Irradiation Certificates
Meat, poultry and egg products
USDA-Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS): Certificates of Wholesomeness
Plants and unprocessed plant products
USDA-APHIS (or by States acting under federal contract): Phytosanitary Certificates
Processed foods containing ingredients other than just meat or poultry
FDA-CFSAN-Office of Plant, Dairy Food and Beverages
Seafood and aquaculture products
FDA-CFSAN-Office of Seafood and National Marine Fisheries Services (NMFS-NOAA) through its seafood inspection program

Standardized by the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC), these certificates expedite the entry of plants into a foreign country. USDA-APHIS certifies to the foreign plant protection authority of an importing country that the shipment has been inspected and found to conform to the phytosanitary requirements of that country. In addition, the USDA attests that the shipment is free from quarantinable pathogens and is practically free from other injurious pests. States offering phytosanitary certificates must make sure their certificates are acceptable to the foreign country and that their certificates conform to the IPPC model.
Source, US Food and Drug Administration,