Terrestrial Animal Health Code
General obligations related to certification
Safety of international trade in animals and animal products depends on a combination of factors which should be taken into account to ensure unimpeded trade, without incurring unacceptable risks to human and animal health.
Because of differences between countries in their animal health situations, various options are offered by the Terrestrial Code. The animal health situation in the exporting country, in the transit country or countries and in the importing country should be considered before determining the requirements for trade. To maximise harmonisation of the sanitary aspects of international trade, Veterinary Authorities of OIE Members should base their import requirements on the standards of the OIE.
Certification requirements should be exact and concise, and should clearly convey the wishes of the importing country. For this purpose, prior consultation between Veterinary Authorities of importing and exporting countries may be necessary. It enables the setting out of the exact requirements so that the signing veterinarian can, if necessary, be given a note of guidance explaining the understanding between the Veterinary Authorities involved.
The certification requirements should not include conditions for diseases that are not transmitted by the commodity concerned. The certificate should be signed in accordance with the provisions of Chapter 5.2.
Responsibilities of the importing country
The import requirements included in the international veterinary certificate should assure that commodities introduced into the importing country comply with the standards of the OIE. Importing countries should restrict their requirements to those necessary to achieve the national appropriate level of protection. If these are stricter than the standards of the OIE, they should be based on an import risk analysis.
The international veterinary certificate should not include requirements for the exclusion of pathogens or animal diseases which are present in the importing country and are not subject to any official control programme. The measures imposed on imports to manage the risks posed by a specific pathogen or disease should not require a higher level of protection than that provided by measures applied as part of the official control programme operating within the importing country.
The international veterinary certificate should not include measures against pathogens or diseases which are not OIE listed, unless the importing country has demonstrated through import risk analysis, carried out in accordance with Section 2., that the pathogen or disease poses a significant risk to the importing country.
The transmission by the Veterinary Authority of certificates or the communication of import requirements to persons other than the Veterinary Authority of another country, necessitates that copies of these documents are also sent to the Veterinary Authority. This important procedure avoids delays and difficulties which may arise between traders and Veterinary Authorities when the authenticity of the certificates or permits is not established.
This information is the responsibility of Veterinary Authorities. However, it can be issued by private sector veterinarians at the place of origin of the commodities when this practice is the subject of appropriate approval and authentication by the Veterinary Authority.
Situations may arise which result in changes to the consignee, identification of the means of transportation, or border post after a certificate is issued. Because these do not change the animal or public health status of the consignment, they should not prevent the acceptance of the certificate.
Responsibilities of the exporting country
information on the animal health situation and national animal health information systems to determine whether that country is free or has zones or compartments free from listed diseases, including the regulations and procedures in force to maintain its free status;
regular and prompt information on the occurrence of notifiable diseases;
details of the country's ability to apply measures to control and prevent the relevant listed diseases;
technical information, particularly on biological tests and vaccines applied in all or part of the national territory.
have official procedures for authorisation of certifying veterinarians, defining their functions and duties as well as conditions of oversight and accountability, including possible suspension and termination of the authorisation;
ensure that the relevant instructions and training are provided to certifying veterinarians;
monitor the activities of the certifying veterinarians to verify their integrity and impartiality.
Responsibilities in case of an incident related to importation
International trade involves a continuing ethical responsibility. Therefore, if within the recognised incubation periods of the various diseases subsequent to an export taking place, the Veterinary Authority becomes aware of the appearance or reappearance of a disease which has been specifically included in the international veterinary certificate, there is an obligation for this Authority to notify the importing country, so that the imported commodities may be inspected or tested and appropriate action be taken to limit the spread of the disease should it have been inadvertently introduced.
If a disease condition appears in imported commodities within a time period after importation consistent with the recognised incubation period of the disease, the Veterinary Authority of the exporting country should be informed so as to enable an investigation to be made, since this may be the first available information on the occurrence of the disease in a previously free herd. The Veterinary Authority of the importing country should be informed of the result of the investigation since the source of infection may not be in the exporting country.
In case of suspicion, on reasonable grounds, that an official certificate may be fraudulent, the Veterinary Authority of the importing country and exporting country should conduct an investigation. Consideration should also be given to notifying any third country(ies) that may have been implicated. All associated consignments should be kept under official control, pending the outcome of the investigation. The Veterinary Authorities of all countries involved should fully cooperate with the investigation. If the certificate is found to be fraudulent, every effort should be made to identify those responsible so that appropriate action can be taken according to the relevant legislation.
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