Export and Phytosanitary Health Certificates and Their Electronic Transmission in Central America

Jossué Chacón

Jossué Chacón

Central American origin goods requiring documentation of their sanitary and phytosanitary condition to any country part of Central American Integration must transmit the certificate electronically through the corresponding institution of the country of origin and the Central American Trade Platform (PDCC).

As part of the Central American Trade Facilitation Strategy, approved in Agreement No. 01-2015 (COMIECO-LXXIII), member countries agreed to establish a system for issuing and sending health certificates on a regional server or through single trade windows to standardize control procedures, certifications, and border inspections.

In this joint effort, the format of certificates applicable at the regional level was standardized through Resolutions No. 428-2020 (COMIECO-XCII) and No. 456-2021 (COMIECO-XCIII). Resolution No. 481-2023 (COMIECO-EX) approved the electronic transmission of health and phytosanitary certificate data through the PDCC. The authorities were given until March 1, 2024, to issue certificates in physical or electronic format, and from March 2, 2024, all certificates must be electronic. This applies except for the Republic of Panama, which will implement it no later than March 30, 2024.

In practice, it is important to consider the following elements:

    1. Transmission is solely through digital means enabled by the Member States, in the case of Costa Rica, through the single foreign trade window.
    2. This measure applies to goods originating from countries that, according to the categories and Annex VI of Resolution 338-2014 (COMIECO-EX), have the non-tariff requirement. Otherwise, they will use standard procedures.
    3. In the event of procedural doubt, a “Technical Guide for Electronic Transmission of Data Set” was approved.
    4. The transmitted information and documentation are deemed authentic, and electronic certificates have the same probative value and efficacy as physical ones, thus replacing them.
    5. As part of verifying the requirement, it is necessary to include the authorized export health or phytosanitary certificate number in the Single Central American Customs Declaration (DUCA-F).

In conclusion, as part of a joint effort by the Central American Member States, the export certificate formats were unified, and electronic transmission was implemented through the originating country’s digital channels. The interoperability provided by the PDCC allows for the electronic receipt and transmission of certificates from the country of origin to the destination country, enabling more efficient electronic consultation, streamlining processes, providing traceability, and reducing clearance times. For more information related to the content of this article, please consult with the Customs and Foreign Trade specialists at the Firm via jechacon@consortiumlegal.com.