Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition's Export Certificates Go Electronic
Upon request by an exporter, FDA issues certificates of free sale (COFS) for certain food products regulated by FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN). Although FDA does not require export certificates to export foods to foreign countries, review of a certificate may be required by foreign countries as part of the process to import a product into those countries.
Starting February 20, 2017, COFS will be issued online as downloadable Portable Document Format (PDF) files. Exporters will continue to use the FDA Certificate Application Process (CAP) to request COFS (account with FDA Industry Systems required). CFSAN is also revising the appearance of the COFS, including an updated letterhead and image of the Health and Human Services (HHS) seal. Additionally, for each certificate, FDA will provide a unique Certificate Identifier, which will allow foreign government officials authorized by the FDA to verify the authenticity of the certificate.
The change from paper to PDF certificates is expected to make the process of issuing COFS more efficient for both exporters and CFSAN. In addition to allowing exporters to submit applications and receive certificates electronically, CAP also allows exporters to receive real-time status updates via email and online tracking and to copy, edit, and resubmit applications.