Inspection Certification: What Is An Inspection Certificate?

what is trade certificate

By Laurel Delaney. Import & Export Expert

Laurel Delaney is a successful entrepreneur, speaker, educator and author with more than 25 years of global business experience. She runs and firms specializing in international entrepreneurship and continues to devote her career to helping businesses go global. She is the author of Start & Run a Profitable Exporting Business published by Self-Counsel Press (2008), Exporting: The Definitive Guide to Selling Abroad Profitably published by Apress (2013) and Exporting Essentials: Selling Products and Services to the World Successfully (2014) also published by Apress.

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If they don't have one, refer to your import/export dream team (e.g. banker, logistics expert, accountant and lawyer) for a suitable contact.

I once had a customer who asked to have an inspection of their goods done prior to their leaving the factory, and requested that their close friend in the States conduct the inspection! When the goods were ready for dispatch, my customer's friend arrived at the plant and opened a few cartons here and there to insure that we were not shipping inferior merchandise. Then, he eyeballed all the cartons to see that they were marked on the outside as his friend had requested. Finding everything in order, he signed the inspection certificate and copies we had prepared in advance. In this case, the inspection didn't cost the customer a cent, everything was certified A-OK and we were all satisfied!

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A number of countries’ governments have ongoing relationships with international inspection companies to verify the quantity, quality, and price of shipments imported into their countries. Here are four such companies:





The purpose of these companies is to assist when you need to be sure. For example, you might need to validate the price charged by an exporter to reflect the true value of the goods and to prevent less than quality goods from entering the country. Another reason is to deflect attempts to avoid the payment of customs duties.

Countries Requiring Pre-Shipment

Inspections (PSIs)

Countries requesting or requiring pre-shipment inspection certificates (PSIs) vary year to year and are based on a shipment above a certain value. In some countries, however, an inspection certificate is required regardless of the value – be sure to inquire. Here is the current list of countries in alphabetical order:

Angola, Bangladesh, Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Comoros, Republic of Congo (Brazzaville), Democratic Republic of Congo (Kinshasa), Cote d’Ivoire, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Guinea, India, Indonesia, Iran, Kenya (under review), Kuwait, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mexico, Mozambique, Niger, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Togo and Uzbekistan.

Other Inspection Documents

If you are exporting an agricultural product, such as nuts, fruits, seeds, grains and vegetables, you will need a federal phytosanitary inspection certificate. This certificate is issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to satisfy import regulations for foreign countries. It indicates that a U.S. shipment has been inspected and is free from toxic plant and pest diseases.

In addition to the phytosanitary certificate, the USDA issues the Export Certificate for Processed Plant Products and the Certificate of Quality and Condition. If a processed plant product cannot be given a phytosanitary certificate but has been denied entry to one or more countries for lack of a health certification, an Export Certificate can be issued. Some products in this category are nuts in bulk that are salted, roasted, or vacuum-packed (in or out of their shells), soy-fortified products and meal extracted from seeds by solvent.

The Certificate of Quality and Condition is offered by the USDA's Processed Products Branch following the official inspection and grading of canned, frozen and dehydrated fruits and vegetables and related products. This certificate is available on a fee basis and can be tailored to meet your specific import/export needs.

What To Do If There Is a Certification Inspection Dispute

If a disagreement arises with the outcome of the inspection process, a resolution should be negotiated with the inspection company. In some instances, the exporter and inspection company must work together to resolve the issue.


Category: Forex

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