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The Gfresh guide to seafood export: the paperwork

autoreBy Steve Williamson 18 Feb 2017

Welcome to chapter one of the Gfresh guide to seafood export.  

We hope you find this guide helpful in making your exporting efforts as successful as possible!

So, let’s dig right into it...

The paperwork

This initial step has to be one of the most frustrating parts for any business looking to go overseas.


You have to think about the formalities of the origin country, the destination country and all of the freight and airline stuff in between. If you don't know what you're doing, its easy to get lost in it all and miss out on the world's buyers.


Our guide is designed to show you, in the simplest way, the basic paperwork that is essential for any business looking to export their seafood overseas. If you use these basic pointers as a reference guide, the issue of paperwork will become a thing of the past.


Every country has different regulations and depending on your export destination the rules can differ slightly too.

Australia

The guide below is applicable for seafood exporters in Australia looking to sell their produce in what is currently the world's largest and fastest growing seafood market, China. Please note: all live produce in export are treated as 'Companion Animals'.


There are 5 simple steps to completing the basic paperwork needed for exporting live seafood to China from Australia.


1. Registering with AQSIQ

The General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine of the People's Republic of China (AQSIQ - www.aqsiq.gov.cn) are the regulatory body that handle all international imports into China.


Businesses looking to distribute their goods into the Chinese market need to register through AQSIQ.


It's simple to do by following the prompts provided at http://ire.eciq.cn and filling out some information on both your business and the goods which you intend to export. Once this registration is completed, AQSIQ will return approval documents to you in Chinese.


2. Translating Chinese Documents

Documents provided by AQSIQ in Chinese need to be translated by a recognised agency before they can be submitted to the Australian Department of Agriculture.


There are a few different organisations within Australia that operate for this purpose, but the recommended agency is the National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters (NAATI).


NAATI specialises in translating official/commercial documents and it's a very simple task to have your Chinese documents translated at www.naati.com.au


3. Providing Translated Documents to the Australian Department of Agriculture

Once you receive your newly translated documents they can be sent on to the Australian Department of Agriculture. In the case of live export, or 'Companion Animals', documents can be sent to ceranimalexports@agriculture.gov.au for approval.


4. Organising Airlines

Businesses are required to organise their own channels of freight through a preferred airline. If you don't already have an established relationship with a particular airline then you can contact the International Air Transport Association (IATA - www.iata.org).


IATA will be able to recommend airlines and provide you everything you need to register with your airline of choice.


5. Providing Notice of Intention to Export Live Animals

The final stage of the process is providing a notice of intention to export live animals to the Australian Department of Agriculture (www.agriculture.gov.au).


This should be done no later than 10 days before the intended departure date of your shipment.


It's important that you complete this stage as you will be provided the Official Export Ticket and Health Ticket, which ensure your goods can both exit Australia and then be processed through the Chinese port before distribution.


Even though it sounds complicated, it's a simple process and the online options are designed to give exporters an easy, streamlined experience.


But remember, the most important thing when looking to export your seafood into China, is that you provide all of the information possible.


This way you'll avoid any hiccups on the way and set yourself up with a reputation for more business in the future. 

Canada

If you're a commercial seafood exporter in Canada, it's a very, very simple process to get the right paperwork in order to begin exporting internationally.


The global market sees Canadian live seafood as a premium product and are willing to pay premium prices. If you follow the simple guidelines on how to do it, becoming a successful international exporter will be a breeze.


As with all fresh and live seafood imports into China, the regulatory body in charge of overseeing trade is the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine of the People's Republic of China (AQSIQ).


The AQSIQ has an established trade relationship with Canada and works in agreement with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) to provide the framework for seafood exporters from Canada to work within.


The paperwork and certification necessary is designed to be easy to attain and completed; the Chinese market wants Canadian produce and it only benefits suppliers to provide it.


With the focus on China, we've put together the few basic steps below for you to get started with the paperwork and on your way to exporting.


1. Registering with CFIA

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is responsible for managing regulations on any seafood exports out of Canada.


The first step towards becoming a successful exporter is to be registered with the CFIA as an approved establishment.


The CFIA has a specific set of regulations for export of live and fresh seafood, however, depending on where you are located in Canada, there are some exceptions in regulation for live lobsters, live crabs and some fish packers.


You can follow the link to find what specific regulations you need to adhere to, but if you think that you may be valid for some of the exceptions mentioned above, it's best to contact your local CFIA office to plan for your specific jurisdiction.


2. Translating Chinese Documents

Documents provided by AQSIQ in Chinese need to be translated by a recognised agency before they can be submitted to the Australian Department of Agriculture.


There are a few different organisations within Australia that operate for this purpose, but the recommended agency is the National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters (NAATI).


NAATI specialises in translating official/commercial documents and it's a very simple task to have your Chinese documents translated at www.naati.com.au


3. Working With FSPD

The Fish, Seafood and Production Division is the Canadian body which is responsible for facilitating access to international fish markets by negotiating agreements with trade partners and identifying export requirements.


The FSPD is responsible for making sure that produce is acceptable for human consumption and provide inspection and certification that is relevant to the Chinese import requirements. 


By already working and registering with the CFIA, you'll be directed to the FSPD automatically as an exporter of seafood.


4. FSPD/AAHD Certification for China

One of the contributing factors to Canada's reputation for premium produce is the emphasis put on the well being of its produce.


The Aquatic Animal Health Division (AAHD) is responsible for certifying fish exports for animal health purposes - as is necessary.


However, for international export there is a trend towards getting certification from the FSPD which covers both the human consumption regulation as well as animal health.


The Chinese authorities work in sync with the FSPD and inspections are easily organised for certification and approval; you can read more here.


Once inspected, you will be provided export and health certificates from CFIA that ensure the safe passage of your produce into China.


5. Airlines

Businesses are given help in organising channels of freight through a preferred airline by the FSPD.


If you don't already have an established relationship with a particular airline, or want to seek out an airline without the aid of the FSPD, then you can contact the International Air Transport Association (IATA - www.iata.org).


IATA will be able to recommend airlines and provide you everything you need to register with your airline of choice. 


It's also worth remembering at this point that a lot of airlines operating out of Canada won't directly deal with exporters, so you should align yourself with an established freight-forwarder with existing ties to airlines.


Canada and China have worked together as trade partners for a long time, with many exporters finding success in supplying their premium produce into the Chinese market. As expected with live and fresh seafood, there are regulations and paperwork that need to be complied with. 


Breaking into the booming Asian market (particularly China) will be a walk in the park if you follow the basic outline above. The steps are simple and if done properly, you'll be well on your way to becoming a lucrative global seller.

United States

Like any export, the process of getting your seafood from the United States to China requires some paperwork. 


Depending on what seafood you're exporting, China and America both have different standards that need to be conformed to. It's common sense to know that your best bet is to provide as much accurate information as possible, and only work with reliable, licensed importers. 


But when it comes to seafood, nothing can be taken for granted and it's important that you follow the correct steps and have your paperwork verified before goods even leave the ground.


For American exporters, the regulatory body that oversees export of seafood is the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA - http://www.noaa.gov/).


On the Chinese side, the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ - http://www.aqsiq.gov.cn/), has a specific set of regulations and lists that need to be adhered to for successful entry of American seafood into the country.


The buyers are waiting for your premium produce - let's make sure you get it all the way to them with no hassles. Before getting into the details there are a couple of things you need to keep in the back of your mind whenever exporting to China. First of all, the regulations can change frequently, depending on the specific circumstances. 


Second, work with business partners experienced in the Chinese market and who have provided evidence of license to import; this way you'll avoid any pitfalls of miscommunication and confusion once your produce has landed.


Now, to get that burden of paperwork out of the way - this simple guide will give you a basic process outline of the paperwork needed to get started exporting seafood from America to China.


1. Export Certificates and USDC Registration

It's compulsory for businesses wanting to export goods of any kind to register with the United States Department of Commerce (USDC) as an approved establishment in the USDC Seafood Inspection program. 


To do this your business needs to be inspected by a member of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA - www.noaa.gov) who will then approve the business/facilities/vessels/produce/lot and USDC SIP Health and Export Certificates. 


It's easy to contact them and organise a suitable time. Once you've been approved by an inspector, you'll be registered as an approved exporter and receive your certificates, ready to get under way.


2. Auditing By The NOAA

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association operate in conjunction with both global government regulation and standards, as well as for the benefit of the environment as a whole. 


Inspection and Auditing done by the NOAA is done so on a 'fee-for-service' basis (fee rates can be found here: http://www.seafood.nmfs.noaa.gov/stories/fees15.pdf) and even though they can be quite expensive, are a worthwhile and necessary investment.


Inspections by the NOAA can cover a variety of areas relevant to the specific destination, including: establishment sanitation inspection, system and process audits, product inspection and grading, product lot inspection, laboratory analyses, training, consultation and export certification. 


The inspections and audits are very thorough and can take a few days depending on the size and complexity of your business, so don't try and rush it in at the last minute.


3. Approval for Chinese Regulations

Both China and USA have regulations and processes designed to make trading seafood simple. 


To make your business as appropriate for USDC/NOAA Inspection and approval you should use this guide (http://www.seafood.nmfs.noaa.gov/pdfs/china.pdf) as a checklist and reference. Outlined in the linked document are the guidelines for seafood products being shipped to China from America. 


If you stick to these and keep your offering within the boundaries outlined, you'll have no problems getting your business/produce approved for distribution into China.


4. Organising Airlines

Businesses are required to organise their own channels of freight through a preferred airline.


If you don't already have an established relationship with a particular airline then you can contact the International Air Transport Association (IATA - www.iata.org).


IATA will be able to recommend airlines and provide everything you need to register with an airline of your choice. It's also worth remembering at this point that a lot of airlines operating out of America won't directly deal with exporters, so you should align yourself with an established freight-forwarder with existing ties to airlines.


USA and China have worked together as economic/trade partners for years, with many exporters successfully supplying their premium produce into the Chinese market.


However, the paperwork and regulation does exist, and the only way for you to break into the growing Asian market is to follow the basic outline above and conform to all of the standards set by the regulatory authorities mentioned.


If you do these things, paperwork will become a breeze and you'll be well on your way to being a lucrative global seller.

New Zealand

New Zealand's Free Trade Agreement with China (NZCFTA - 2008) has meant a huge increase in opportunity for businesses looking to export and simplified the process to do so.


But that isn't to say that you can simply put your produce on a plane and send it to China without due diligence to the formal processes.


While the FTA with China has made it easier for suppliers of fresh and live seafood, there are still certain aspects of paperwork that need to be covered. Keeping up communication with your importers is a good way to ensure your produce passes through the correct channels.


However, by completing the basic paperwork correctly, you'll eliminate the risk of any hiccups and establish your business as a reliable global exporter.


Below, we've outlined the basic paperwork needed for New Zealand suppliers looking to export into China.


1. Certification of New Zealand Origin

Since the signing and enforcement of the New Zealand and China Free Trade Agreement (NZCFTA) in 2008, the documentation for prospective exporters of seafood has become far simpler.


While importers on the China side are required to have licenses and certification to import, New Zealand exporters only require a Certificate of Origin for customs purposes. 


The Certificate of Origin is a requirement of the General Administration of Customs of the People's Republic of China (AQSIQ) and gives assurance to the General Administration of Customs (China) that your produce is of New Zealand Origin. 


There are two bodies in New Zealand able to provide certification; Independent Verification Services Ltd. (http://ivslimited.co.nz/export-services/certificate-of-origin/) and the New Zealand Chambers of Commerce Ltd.(http://www.newzealandchambers.co.nz/?s1=Export%20Documentation), both of which are designated to provide certification for goods of any kind destined for export to China. 


For a template version of what a potential application for Certificate of Origin looks like, the following link gives an easy to understand example: http://www.chinafta.govt.nz/2-For-businesses/1-Doing-business-with-China/2-Exporting-goods-to-China/FactSheet38.pdf


2. Organising Airlines

Most airlines maintain relationships with existing freight forwarders, and its best when exporting to China to utilize the services of an experienced organisation.


By working alongside an experienced freight-forwarder you'll avoid trying to navigate the entire process yourself and be able to take advantage of the organisation's existing channels/system. 


It's also worth noting at this point that if you have any further questions on export requirements, your experienced freight-forwarder will have all the knowledge, a relationship with airlines and be able to guide you through it.


Further, a lot of global airlines don't deal directly with exporters, but rather the freight-forwarder relationship.


If you don't have a freight-forwarder already, the best step forward in selecting an airline is through the International Air Transport Association (IATA - www.iata.org). IATA will be able to advise you on the best airlines for your specific scenario and help you with your selection and registration with that airline. 


As seen above, it's easy to get the paperwork done for your export to China. However, even though the process has been minimised by the New Zealand China Free Trade Agreement, the correct certification still needs to be attained.


As with any export, Chinese customs rely on strong regulation and the channels for distribution are only accessible by following their rules.


That being said, by following the basics outlined in this guide, you'll find trading to China simple and your business will be well on its way to becoming a global exporter. 

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