February 15, 2017
Starting February 20, 2017, certificates of free sale (COFS) for food products regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN) will be issued online as downloadable PDFs. The change from paper to PDF certificates will make the process of issuing COFS more efficient for both exporters and the agency.
Review of a certificate may be required by foreign countries as part of the process to import a product into those countries. FDA issues COFS for certain CFSAN-regulated food products upon request by an exporter. FDA does not require export certificates to export foods to foreign countries.
The FDA Certificate Application Process (CAP) is CFSAN's web-based application for accepting requests, reviewing, processing, managing, tracking, and administering CFSAN export certificates. To access CAP, log in to FDA Industry Systems at https://www.access.fda.gov/oaa and select the "Certificate Application Process" option from the list of systems available. If you do not have an account with FDA Industry Systems, you will need to create one.
The advantages of CAP include:
- Online submission of applications;
- Reduction in application processing time;
- Online receipt of certificates via PDF;
- Real-time status updates via email and online tracking; and
- Ability to copy, edit, and resubmit applications.
If exporters are unable to use the new PDF system, they may contact FDA and we will provide assistance.
CFSAN COFS will have a new look, including an updated letterhead and image of the HHS seal. PDF certificates issued directly to the applicant are considered original certificates and the Department of State is able to authenticate the certificates. For each certificate, FDA will provide a unique Certificate Identifier (ID). Foreign government officials authorized by the FDA can use this Certificate ID to verify the authenticity of the certificate. Exporters will need to ensure that the printed certificates are clear and legible. An example of the new look of the certificate is below.
If you have any questions or concerns, please email CFSANExportCertification@fda.hhs.gov or call 240-402-2307.
See an enlarged version of the sample certificate (PDF: 77KB).
For Additional Information:
- FDA Export Certificates
- Export Certification FAQs
- Food Export Certificate Application Step-by-Step Instructions