What Is TRACES for Tea Importing?
The world is progressively becoming smaller as connections between countries on opposite sides of the globe become less effort and cultures are shared more easily. Prominent among those included in the vast cultural diffusion is the cuisine. These days, you can expect to find your local flavors in various places around the planet. For Japan, one of its most popular imports in terms of food and beverage is green tea.
Japanese green tea’s global popularity cannot be denied. Importers from all over are eager to distribute the product in their regions. Understandably, there are different rules and regulations that they must adhere to do so. For instance, if you would like to import tea from Japan to a country member of the European Union, you need to acquire certification from the appropriate authorizing agencies.
Importance of Certification
It’s understandable for checks to be carried out on any food entering the EU to ensure that it meets the standards for food from the member countries. Besides the physical checks on the food, controls would also include documentary and identity checks. There are additional requirements for items that pose a notably higher risk to the health and environment, such as further documentation and advance notification of their arrival.
Requirements for Food Imports
The EU mandates that imports comply with the general principles of Regulation 178/2002/EC or Food Law. This legislation requires that imported food be safe, compliant with food hygiene requirements, and adherent to the agreement between the EU and the exporting country.
There is also specific legislation for food of animal origin; food of non-animal origin, under which Japanese green tea falls; and composite products, which contain both products of non-animal origin and processed ingredients of animal origin, e.g. pepperoni pizza.
Registration with TRACES
A very important detail for importers of food products to the EU states is their registration with TRACES. It stands for Trade Control and Expert System and essentially functions as the EU’s
multilingual online management tool for notification, certification, and monitoring of trade in the following:
- Products of animal origin
- Certain foods of non-animal origin
- Plant products
Since October 2017, the EU has only been accepting electronic Certificates of Inspection (COI) through TRACES. The COI has to accompany all imports that enter the EU. This system aims to improve efficiencies as well as the integrity of the import approval process. It decreases the usual red tape by speeding up communication between the importers and various regulatory bodies. It also prevents incidents of fraud as it contributes to the evaluation of certificates, detecting fake ones promptly so that substandard products are hindered from making their way to consumers.
Advantages Offered by TRACES
This online multilingual document management system of the European Commission (EC) concerning EU certification requirements offers the following advantages:
- Convenience in terms of accessibility no matter the time and place.
- Environment-friendly, paperless procedure.
- Difficulty in falsifying various essential details like stamps and signatures.
- No document deterioration.
- Limitless document storage.
- No need for official and certified copies since all documents are original.
- Free service.
Getting Started with the COI
Certification may be initiated by the exporter, importer, or by a control body recognized by the EU. If this burden falls on you, you can rest assured that the process can be conveniently carried out online. First things first, however. To be eligible to request a COI, you have to be set up in TRACES as an operator. You can create an operator account on the EU Login site. After this step, you can request an access profile in TRACES.NT;
The typical supporting documents required for a COI are:
- Packing list
- Bill of lading/ airway bill
You also have the option of getting an authorizing body to do the processing on your behalf. Keep in mind that you have to make sure that wording on the request form matches that on the certificate, so be careful when accomplishing the request form.
The TRACES Electronic Signature
In the past, TRACES didn’t have an electronic signature feature, so Customs required a hard copy of the COI until TRACES finally acquired one. These days, you can already get the electronic signature and seal. The main prerequisite for this is an account in TRACES. However, a digital identity is not sufficient to provide an e-sign. A one-time password has to be generated with the use of a token. A mobile application can then be used to scan the QR code TRACES generates in every document. It will then automatically transfer the password to the TRACES app.
If you’re importing Japanese green tea, TRACES ensures that your product’s quality passes EU standards. Having the Certificate of Inspection is integral to the endeavor, so whether you or an authorizing body initiates certification, the important thing is that you do get your COI. TRACES is available in 34 languages. This means that you can access the site at any time free of charge in the language you prefer.
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