Veterinary border inspection

Legislation

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Imports of foodstuffs and other products of animal origin and live animals from third countries, i.e. non-EU countries, into the area of the European Union are only permitted via approved veterinary border inspection posts (BIPs) on the external borders of the Union. On completion of a veterinary border control, the import consignment may, with some exceptions, be placed on the market throughout the area of the EU.

The Department of Food and Health of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry is responsible for the legislation and provisions concerning import conditions for foodstuffs and the Commission’s safeguard measures.

Consignments of foodstuffs of animal origin must meet the import requirements for the foods concerned: the consignment originates from an approved country of origin, the consignment has been granted a health certificate in the country of origin, and the products in the consignment are from establishments in third countries approved for export by the EU Commission. A list of establishments approved by the Commission is available on the website of the EU’s DG SANCO.

Veterinary border controls apply the Commission’s safeguard measures for foodstuffs of animal origin, other products and animals. These can be found on the website of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry: www.mmm.fi. The purpose of safeguard measures is to apply necessary measures where a factor likely to cause serious risk to human or animal health is present or spreading in a third country.

Authorities

Import inspections of foodstuffs and other products of animal origin imported from third countries into the territory of the EU via Finland are performed by border veterinarians employed or authorised by the Finnish Food Safety Authority Evira. In Finland there are veterinary border inspection posts in Helsinki (port), Vantaa (airport), Hamina (port) and Vaalimaa (road).

Border inspections

Imports from non-EU countries (“third countries”) are governed by the Act on Veterinary Border Controls (1192/1996). Imports of foodstuffs and other products of animal origin and live animals from these countries into the territory of the EU is permitted only via approved veterinary border inspection posts (BIPs) on the Union’s external borders.

On completion of the veterinary border control, the import consignment may, with some exceptions, be placed on the market throughout the area of the EU.

The Unit for Animal Health and Welfare of the Department of Food and Health of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry is responsible for drafting and updating legislation governing the border controls and import conditions relating to imports from third countries of foodstuffs and other products of animal origin and animals.

The Import, Export and Organic Control Unit of the Control Department of Evira is responsible for border controls of foodstuffs and other products of animal origin and animals imported from third countries.

Import inspections at the veterinary border inspection posts are performed by border veterinarians employed or authorised by the Finnish Food Safety Authority (see above). The border control officers also check the documents accompanying each import consignment and that the documents tally with the consignment. A physical check is performed on 2-100 per cent of import consignments depending on their origin and type. Pursuant to Regulation 882/2004, veterinary border controls include aspects of food legislation not covered by the scope of the border control Directive (97/78/EC).

In Finland there are four veterinary border inspection posts: Helsinki (port and airport), Hamina (port) and Vaalimaa (road). If a border control has not already been performed on a consignment in another EU country, these are the only points of entry to Finland; from Russia the only point of entry is Vaalimaa. Checks at Vaalimaa must always be arranged in advance by telephone.

Samples are also taken from consignments for laboratory tests in accordance with a schedule approved by Evira’s Control Department. With the exception of laboratory test results, statistics are no longer kept. The data is entered in the TRACES system.

Importers must notify the arrival of an import consignment at the latest on the preceding working day by sending the completed first page of the Common Veterinary Entry Document (CVED) to the appropriate border inspection port. Border controls outside of normal working hours (possible only at Helsinki airport BIP for animals) must be arranged specially with the border veterinarian.

For imports of both products and live animals from third countries, companies make prior notification to the veterinary border inspection post by completing the CVED. Commercial operators must use the TRACES system.

In certain cases it is permitted to import foodstuffs of animal origin from third countries without a veterinary border control. Here too, the importer must take account of the import requirements for the foods concerned.

Opening hours of Vaalimaa border inspection post (BIP) see at the left margin Topical.

If no pre-notification by TRACES has been received by the BIP in due time, the importer must wait until the requirement concerning the timeframe has elapsed. Because EU-legislation and national Finnish legislation requires the sending of pre-notificationat the latest on the preceding working day, consequently if the Vaalimaa BIP receives the pre-notification on Friday, the first possibility to check the consignment is on Monday. If the pre-notification is received for instance on Wednesday, the consignment can be checked on Thursday.

On the left margin:  it can be noticed  that Vaalimaa BIP concerning veterinary border controls is open only during office hours: on Mon, Thu, Fri at 9:00–15:45. Checks are not performed during weekends .Holiday season is an exception, and the days for checks might be limited. Therefore it is very important to make sure, that the border control veterinarian has confirmed the time of the check by email: vaalimaa @evira.fi. In urgent cases you can contact Helsinki Port BIP +358 401 46 7551 (during office hours).

TRACES

In the TRACES system the following documents need to be completed:

• Part 1 of the CVED for animals, if animals are being forwarded to another Member State.
• Part 1 of the CVED for products for ship supplies and transit consignments, including consignments in temporary storage in Finland.
• Part 1 of the CVED for animals.
• Part 1 of the CVED for products for non-conforming consignments, ship supplies and transit consignments (including consignments in temporary storage in Finland), re-imports of consignments of EU origin returned from a third country, consignments for which controls will be completed at another border inspection post (“transhipments”) and channelling consignments.

N.B. The system always automatically sends the information to the border control post, so filling in part 1 in the TRACES replaces prior notification.

Commercial operators must also complete part 1 of the product CVED when

• the products are intended for a Member State or area which may impose special requirements under Community legislation
• the consignment is an import for special purposes permitted under Community legislation.

NB! From 1 January 2006 no consignment imported from third countries will be accepted for veterinary border checks unless prior notification has been made in the TRACES system. Evira's border veterinarians can only make prior notification on behalf of an importer in exceptional cases and on payment of a specified fee.

To complete the CVED document, register as a user in the TRACES program and follow the instructions. TRACES comprises the CVED document for live animals (Commission Regulation (EC) No. 282/2004, as amended by Commission Regulation (EC) No. 585/2004) and the CVED document for products, which entered into force on 1 March 2004 (Commission Regulation (EC) No. 136/2004). Once the first page of the CVED has been completed, the program enables users to send a prior notification to the border veterinarian. Health certificates must be sent to the border inspection post in hard copy form as before.

Consignments that do not meet the requirements of EC or Finnish legislation may be only be stored temporarily in a free warehouse, free zone or customs warehouse approved by Evira. Foodstuffs that do not meet the requirements of EC or Finnish legislation and which are intended as ship supplies for overseas shipping may only be placed in a ship supply warehouse approved by Evira or delivered directly to the ship.

Prior to delivering a consignment to a ship, the importer must, before delivery takes place, submit a veterinary certificate to the border veterinarian supervising the warehouse.

The check is performed by border veterinarians employed or authorised by the Finnish Food Safety Authority Evira. Food consignments arriving from another EU Member State (internal market) are inspected at the first destination. If necessary, such food consignments may also be inspected before arrival in the country.

First destination

Foodstuffs of animal origin imported to Finland from or via other EU Member States (EU internal market) are sent to the so-called first destination. The first destination operator must ensure that a delivery inspection is performed on the products at the first destination.

In connection with the delivery inspection at the first destination, samples are also taken in accordance with the autocontrol plan. It is the duty of the first destination operator to make a monthly summary notification, by first destination, to Evira of all foodstuffs of animal origin received.

As of 1 May 2008, responsibility for first destination controls has been transferred to the Finnish Food Safety Authority Evira, which also maintains a national register of all first destinations and first destination operators.

(18024AEN)

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