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How to navigate EU rules for seafood

A Quebec company is looking to export its frozen seafood to the European Union but is not sure how to certify these products or what the EU tariffs might be. The Trade Commissioner Service teams up with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to respond.

Dear TCS,

One of our firm’s clients would like to create an Aboriginal trademark and export frozen seafood products to Europe (particularly France). The main products for export are snow crab and northern shrimp (also groundfish and certain kinds of molluscs). We would like to know the main steps involved in this process (inspections and certificates) as well as any barriers to entry (tariff or other).

Thank you for your cooperation,

Julie Roberge
GRM International

Dear Julie,

Thank you for your e-mail. The answers to your questions come both from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency as well as our office in Brussels.

European Union (EU) certification of fish and seafood products is a common issue that Canadian companies face. It is important that you are well prepared and aware of the requirements before you export fish products to the EU or any other country.

The EU requires that Canadian fish processors appear on the EU list of establishments approved for export there. This list is available on the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) website.

Each lot of fish must also be accompanied by a CFIA export certificate for the EU. CFIA inspectors will not sign a certificate for the EU if the establishment is not on the EU export list. In order to receive a fish export certificate, you must contact your local CFIA office.

The request for the certificate should include the following information:

  1. certificate type(s)
  2. lot location
  3. date available for inspection
  4. date certificate required
  5. lot size
  6. product description (size, grade, type)
  7. consignee
  8. consignor
  9. identification marks (production code)
  10. mode of transportation (if known).

Upon receipt of the certification request, the CFIA inspector will notify you if the lot must be inspected. The lot must be available for inspection at the time you request a certificate. Note that if an inspection is needed, it may take a few days depending on the analysis requested. You must make the appropriate shipping arrangements to allow for the inspection of your products.

A fee of $25 per certificate where no inspection was performed or $100 per certificate where an inspection was performed is to be charged, unless the establishment has reached the $10,000 cap for certification fees. Once you have your certificate(s), you can export your product.

For more information, I would recommend that you visit the fish and seafood section of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency website. Additional details on requirements for exporting fish products to the EU and other countries are available here.

Here is the general breakdown when it comes to tariffs:

Crab or Snow crab
Frozen, in shell: 7.5%
Frozen, shelled 2kg or greater pack: 8.0%

Shrimp (Pandalus Borealis)
There is an Autonomous Tariff Quota for 2010-2012 at the EU level which allows for 20,000 tons of cooked and peeled shrimp (Pandalus borealis) for processing to be brought into the EU at 0% tariff. For volumes beyond that, the applied tariff is 20%. The ATRQ applies to shrimp that has been cooked and peeled and that is imported for use in further processing, consistent with the conditions set out in the applicable EU regulation (OJ, Council Regulation (EC) No. 1062/2009). Shell-on shrimp (Pandalus borealis) is subject to an applied MFN tariff of 12%, although shell-on shrimp (Pandalus borealis), when it is imported for further processing, currently benefits from a duty suspension. The EU is likely to maintain a ATRQ regime for the next three year period (2013-2015), but final details have not yet been agreed and made public.

Live, fresh or chilled: 10%
Processed: 20%

Scallops, frozen: 8%

The EU website has a useful database that allows you to look up the applicable tariffs for your client’s products.

To use it, click on “Browse” beside the goods code, then click “Section 1: Live animals and animal products,” then “Chapter 3: Fish And Crustaceans, Molluscs And Other Aquatic Invertebrates.” Then it is simply a matter of selecting the description which best describes the product in order to get the applicable tariff.

I hope this is helpful. Don't hesitate to contact the Trade Commissioner Service or the Canadian Food Inspection Agency if you have any further questions.


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