Controls of food and consumer goods – advance inquiries and advance notifications

Customs controls the product safety of foodstuffs and consumer goods upon import. The enforcement measures are e.g. document controls, taking samples and examining them at the Customs Laboratory. The decision on taking samples or on carrying out inspections is made when goods are cleared through Customs. If the goods imported into the country fall within the scope of Customs’ product safety controls, the importer can ask in advance, whether samples will be taken of the consignment.

In addition, a phytosanitary border inspection may be carried out on fresh fruits, vegetables and berries. Customs must be notified in advance in the customs declaration if the import consignment contains products that require a phytosanitary inspection.  A check on conformity of some fresh fruits and vegetables is also carried out. The phytosanitary inspection and the check on conformity of vegetables are carried out on the same products, so the decisions regarding inspections and the taking of samples are made simultaneously based on risk assessment. 

No advance notification is required regarding the conformity inspection.

Advance inquiries on taking samples speed up import clearance

Some foodstuffs and consumer goods cannot be brought into the country and be placed under a customs procedure until the consumer safety inspectors of Customs Electronic Service Centre have inspected the documents for the goods and made a risk assessment. Such goods include foodstuffs and consumer goods under the scope of EU’s increased controls, as well as fresh vegetables, fruits and berries under the scope of the Finnish Phytosanitary Legislation.

  • An advance notification before import must be submitted on a standardised document (e.g. a common entry document (CED)) for products under the scope of EU’s increased controls. The time limits for submitting an advance notification vary between groups of products.

An import declaration must be submitted to Customs within 24 hours of the arrival into the country of a fresh produce consignment under the scope of the phytosanitary legislation. The declaration must be submitted on customs form 696s: Advance inquiry/import declaration of the import of fresh produce (in Finnish).

Points to consider

The import of some vegetables, fruits and berries require a phytosanitary border inspection and checks on conformity of vegetables. These products belong in chapter 7 and 8 of the Customs Tariff. Lists of products that are inspected:


Submit information regarding fruits, vegetable and berries under the scope of phytosanitary health controls and checks on conformity with customs form 696s Advance inquiry/import declaration of the import of fresh produce (in Finnish).

Fill in only the top part of the form. In the bottom part, the Customs officer fills in the decisions made based on risk assessment. Attach the phytosanitary certificate, trade invoice, bill of lading or other corresponding document, and other documents possibly related to the consignment (including certificate of conformity of fruits and vegetables issued by the country of origin).

Other products can be declared with a free-form notification by email. Attach the trade invoice and other documents related to the consignment.

Advance inquiry by email concerning a single consignment:

  • Attach in the same email message all documents relating to the consignment.
  • The email message can only contain documents relating to a single consignment.
  • A single consignment can contain products marked in several trade invoices.

Provide the following in the advance notification or advance inquiry:

  • name of company
  • name and contact information of person in charge of the matter
  • arrival date or estimated arrival date of the consignment
  • customs declaration type (EDI/Manu/web)
  • commodity codes of all goods items with a 10-digit accuracy (can be entered on the trade invoice or on a separate attachment).

Attach the following to the advance notification or advance inquiry:

  • trade invoice
  • compulsory documents such as: phytosanitary certificates, guarantees or analysis certificates (if the consignment contains products under the scope of increased control) in accordance with the Commission’s regulation on increased controls of imported goods.
  • other possible documents pertaining to the consignment.

Send the advance notification or inquiry by email to kuluttajasuojelu(at)tulli.fi

The Customs consumer safety inspectors process advance inquiries weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Enter Customs’ reply to your advance inquiry in the customs declaration

Customs sends you a reply via email, which should be archived with the other customs documents. The reply can be one of these two alternatives:

  1. No samples/no measures, date, reference number of advance inquiry, invoice number, name of consumer safety inspector.
  2. Samples to be taken/phytosanitary check/check of conformity, date, reference number of advance inquiry, invoice number, name of consumer safety inspector and detailed information on products under transfer prohibition.

When you make the customs declaration electronically, enter the reply from the consumer safety inspector regarding the advance inquiry, with the code XXX in the ‘Additional information’ section for the goods item.

When you make a customs declaration with a SAD form, enter the data in box 44.

For example: ‘XXX No samples, 1.7.2017, reference number 123456, name of consumer safety inspector.’


                            

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