HomeSafetyPrior notification of cargoes arriving in the EU, public consultation

Prior notification of cargoes arriving in the EU, public consultation

The European Commission has launched a public consultation on the opportunity to introduce the obligation of prior notification of loads of food, plants and animals arriving in the EU.

A regulation is thus proposed that integrates the so-called Official Controls Regulation (EU) 2017/625 for goods not already subject to specific procedures or exemptions (referred to in OCR, articles 47 and 48).

1) Official controls at EU borders, the rules in force

Official controls at the EU borders, as we have seen, fall under the responsibility of the Member States. (1) Who organize them, in compliance with the criteria indicated in OCR and other regulations, with appropriate frequency and intensity established on the basis of the risk levels identified. (2) The official controls in question are carried out at a border control post and systematically include documentary checks.

Identity control and physical control instead they are carried out in relation to possible risks to human health, animal or plant health, animal welfare and the environment (in relation to GMOs, alien species and plant protection products).

2) Prior notification of loads arriving in the EU, work in progress

The group of experts of the Commission has developed a proposal for a delegated act, pursuant to Regulation (EU) 2017/633, aimed at defining the cases and conditions in which the competent authority can ask operators to notify the arrival of goods entering the EU , when not subject to official control at border control posts.

Preliminary notification of arriving cargoes - already introduced in the USA with the 'Bioterrorism Act', way back in 2002 - has the aim of making useful information available in advance to border authorities for assessing the risks associated with such goods. And on this basis, plan the official control activities.

The competent authorities – thanks to the data collected through preliminary notifications (which are added to other information, such as the compliance history of operators and the risk levels associated with the categories of goods, as well as the countries of their origin and those of shipment, as regards regulations and official controls) – can optimize the categorization of the risk associated with the transit/entry of non-EU imported goods.

3) Information on arriving loads

The responsible operator of the consignment should notify the sending of the goods via TRACES before their physical arrival at the EU borders, with digital signature self-certification of the truthfulness and completeness of the information provided.

The information to be provided through prior notification concern:

• consignor (name, address, state)
• border control post for entry into the EU
• recipient and place of destination (name, address, state)
• responsible operator at the border control post (name, address, country)
• documentation accompanying the consignments, including commercial documents
• expected date and time of arrival at the border control post
• Country of origin (cultivation/harvest/production) of the goods
• means of transport used to reach the EU and state where the transport originated
• consignor manufacturing plant (name, address, state, authorization code where available)
• temperature category required during transport (room temperature/refrigerated/frozen)
• container number (and seal, if available)
• intended use of the goods or their category, as specified in the accompanying documents
• information on the compliance of the goods with the applicable rules.

3.1) Destination of the matches

The intended destination of the consignments, after they have left the border control post, must also be communicated during the notification phase of arriving loads, in the following ways:

– 'for the internal market'

– 'for transit', with data on the third country of destination, mode of transport and name of the exit border control post. These consignments may also contain goods not authorized in the EU (i.e. feed additives of non-animal origin, plant protection products)

– 'for the transfer to…', if the goods are intended for checks in places other than border control posts, on the basis of national rules

– 'for subsequent transport to…', where the goods will be transferred to facilities designated by Member States for onward transport, in accordance with national rules. These consignments may also contain goods not authorized in the EU and must in any case be accompanied by specific information, depending on the case, on the customs warehouse or the temporary storage facility, or the free zone. Or again, the feed production establishment, indicating its registration or approval number.

3.2) Description of the goods

The description of the goods, in the preliminary notification of arriving cargoes, should include:

  • Combined Nomenclature (CN) code and title, European Union Integrated Tariff (TARIC) code
  • net and gross weights, in kg
  • type and total number of packages in the shipment
  • batch codes
  • type of product, including news on organic or in-conversion products
  • number of pieces or volume, where applicable.

3.3) Information system

The management system of information for official controls already in use, established and managed by the European Commission, can ensure an adequate level of security regarding electronic identification and certification. (3)

The standards already in use appear suitable to describe the batches of goods arriving at the EU borders in sufficient detail, for the purposes of their prompt identification by the competent authorities and the categorization of risks.

4) Checks, registrations and decisions by the authorities

Following the verification activities, the competent authorities should keep written records of each check carried out (4) and decide on the consignment, which can be:

– acceptable for the internal market
- not acceptable
– acceptable for transfer or onward transportation or transit or for non-compliant goods.

5) Public consultation

The public consultation on the draft regulation in question - in which everyone (individual citizens, operators and their associations) can participate - is open until 15 May 2024 and accessible at the appropriate link. (5)

The European executive, as unfortunately often happens, did not carry out an impact (cost/benefit) assessment of the proposed measures. It is also easy to note how:

– the increased bureaucratic burdens are not substantial compared to the information already collected in view of the imports of goods into the EU, and on the other hand

– prior notification could reduce the time and costs of official border controls, even substantially.

Dario Dongo, Sarah Lanzilli, Amaranta Traversa, Claudio Biglia


(1) Dario Dongo, Claudio Biglia. What controls on food at EU borders? DO (Food and Agriculture Requirements). 20.4.24

(2) Regulation (EU) 2017/625, articles 44.2 and 24.2 (for plant protection products)

(3) EU Reg. 2017/625, article 131.1

(4) EU Reg. 2017/625, article 13


Veterinary manager ASL Città di Torino, specialist in Inspection of food of animal origin, expert in food law, has published in international journals and deals, among other things, with food delivery and hygiene of collective catering.

Veterinarian, specialist in the inspection of food of animal origin. He participates in several research projects in food safety and microbiology. She co-authored numerous monographs on food safety and over thirty scientific publications.

Veterinary surgeon, specializing in the inspection of food of animal origin. Since 1982 he has been a public veterinarian, since 1990 he has taught at the Universities of Turin and Teramo. He is the author of over seventy scientific publications and co-author of various texts on microbiology, radiocontamination of food, surveillance, health and food law, trade in public areas and communication in health emergencies.

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