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Tips and tricks on EU requirements

What is the Single Administrative Document (SAD)?

All goods imported into the EU must be declared to the customs authorities of the respective country using the Single Administrative Document (SAD), which is the common import declaration form for all EU countries.

The SAD may be presented either by:

  • Using an approved computerized system linked to Customs authorities; or
  • Lodging it with the designated Customs Office premises.

The SAD set consists of eight copies; the operator completes all or part of the sheets depending on the type of operation.

To export to the EU, generally three copies shall be used: one is to be retained by the authorities of the EU country in which arrival formalities are completed, the other is used for statistical purposes by the country of destination and the last one is returned to the consignee after being stamped by the customs authority. See documents for customs clearance.

Are my textiles green?

Consumers are becoming increasingly concerned about the adverse impact of industrial pollution on the environment and their health. Mounting pressure on industry to adopt more "Eco-friendly" manufacturing processes has led to an increased demand, particularly in the textile sector, for manufacturers to have an "Eco-label" for their products.

The EU eco-label is the official mark for products with the lowest environmental impact in their range. It is not compulsory on products entering the EU market, and aims to promote good environmental practices. The label helps consumers to identify such products. If you want to add an eco-label to your T-shirts, you must comply with its criteria regarding textile fibre, processes, chemicals used and fitness for use. Manufacturers, importers, service providers, traders or retailers can apply for the eco-label. Send your application to the European country where you want to market your product. The national authorities will assess whether your T-shirts comply with eco-label criteria and verification requirements. If so, they will conclude a contract with you covering the terms of use of the label, which will apply equally to all EU countries. The eco-label can be displayed on any part of the textile and can be used from the date it is awarded until the end of the validity period. A fee is payable if you apply for an eco-label, and for its subsequent use.

See also: information on labeling rules at the Export Helpdesk or at the Ecolabel page

Are my textiles made of "cotton"?

To protect the producers and to inform the customers, the term "cotton" is exclusively reserved for the fiber obtained from the bolls of the cotton plant (Gossypium).

The term "cotton linen union" is reserved for products having a pure cotton warp and a pure flax weft, in which the percentage of flax accounts for a minimum 40% of the total weight of the fabric.

In the textile’s label, this name must be accompanied by the composition specification.

Likewise, the terms "virgin wool" or "fleece wool" are only used for products composed exclusively of a fiber which: has not previously been part of a finished product, has not been subjected to any spinning and/or felting processes other than those required in the manufacture of the cloth and has not been damaged by treatment or use.

These names may be used to describe fibre mixtures subject to certain conditions. In the label, the full composition in percentage must be given in such cases.

See also: information on labeling rules at the Export Helpdesk

Trading with endangered species? No, thanks.

Exports of endangered species of animals (or parts or derivatives thereof) must comply with the EU wildlife rules under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). That involves a double-checking system with export and import controls both at the country of origin and at EU level.

Exports of CITES-listed species to the EU must follow the following procedure:

The exporter applies for an export permit to his country's CITES management authority. Once obtained, the exporter forwards the copy of the export permit to the EU importer.

The EU importer applies for an import permit, attaching the copy of the export document, to his country's CITES management authority. Once obtained, the importer forwards the original import permit to the exporter.

Both export and import documents accompany the shipment and need to be presented to the customs services before reaching the EU.

At the CITES-listed species database, you can find the species considered endangered country-by-country. Check if the CITES regulation applies to your product at My export.

How to export honey?

Honey, as for any animal product intended for human consumption, needs to meet EU rules relating to the monitoring of veterinary medicines residues. Therefore it is important that analytical methods used in third countries to control the level of residues are reliable to provide guarantees that honey exported from third countries comply with EU rules.

As a honey producer, the first thing to do before exporting to the EU is to check if your country has complied with the residue monitoring requirement and is in the list of countries authorized to export honey to the EU. If not, honey exports are not allowed. In that case, we advise you to contact your government to express your interest in exporting honey to the EU. A formal application by a government is necessary and has to be accompanied by a residue monitoring plan for honey which should include: information on the structure of the competent authority (central public body) responsible; description of the legislative framework, list of approved laboratories for residues controls and the accreditation status of these laboratories; rules covering the collection of official samples; details on measures to be taken in the event of an infringement.  When your country is authorized for the monitoring of the veterinary medicines residues in the honey, no further EU-wide export conditions apply. Further details on requirements to export honey to the EU at My export

Is my meat safe for consumption?

Animals and animal products must comply with health requirements to avoid the transmission of diseases to either humans or other animals. Hence, animals or meat products can only be imported to the EU when they originate from a registered country, come from an approved establishment, are accompanied by a health certificate and have passed the EU border inspection control.

Beforehand, your country's compliance with EU public and animal health rules must be assessed through on-site visits by inspectors from the European Food and Veterinary Office. Once approved, your country is added to the list of authorised countries for that particular product.

In addition, a monitoring system verifies whether the requirements on veterinary medicines residues, pesticides and contaminants are met. Your national authorities are responsible for this monitoring programme which is approved and revised annually by the EU.

Besides country approval, products of animal origin need to be prepared and processed in officially approved establishments (slaughterhouse, cutting plant, cold stores, processing plant, etc). They must also be accompanied by a health certificate signed by your country's competent authority, certifying that the meat is suitable to be exported to the EU.

Once all the pre-conditions are met and when your products arrive at the EU, they and the accompanying certificates will be checked by veterinary officials before issuing a Common Veterinary Entry Document setting out the results of the inspection.

See also: Export Helpdesk requirements section

Are pesticides bad for health?

Pesticides are useful for protecting crops from infestation by pests and plant diseases before and after harvest. But a consequence of their use may be the presence of pesticide residues in the treated products. It is therefore necessary to ensure that such residues are not found in food or feed at levels presenting an unacceptable risk to humans. In the EU, Maximum Residue Levels (MRLs) are set for each pesticide to protect consumers.

For exporters, it is important to know which pesticides are accepted in your product and what quantities. To help exporters, a free online EU pesticide residues database has been established. Check the pesticide's maximum residue level applying to your product at My export.

More info:

  • Check the conditions applying to your product at My Export.

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