The U.S. Dairy Exporter Blog: Market Analysis, Research & News
  • eDocs Arrives

    By USDEC Staff September 10, 2013


    A user-friendly, simplified, expedited method for U.S. dairy suppliers to request European Union health certification online.

    At the end of June, USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) rolled out the Electronic Document Creation System (eDocs), a user-friendly, simplified, expedited method for U.S. dairy suppliers to request European Union (EU) health certification online.

    Prior to eDocs, U.S. suppliers looking to export to the EU would either send faxed certificate requests to AMS or utilize the agency’s previous online ordering system. Both options were cumbersome.

    Compared to AMS’s previous online system, eDocs demands fewer hours of input time for the requesting company because users can create up to 60 custom templates as well as reuse data from old certificate requests. Templates and certificates are saved at the company level, allowing for greater efficiency among colleagues.

    For companies that still fax requests to AMS, eDocs all but eliminates the potential for transcription errors and significantly reduces certificate turnaround time.

    “eDocs substantially raises the speed and accuracy of certificate issuance,” says Sandra Benson, USDEC’s director of market access and regulatory affairs. “The increased efficiency gained through eDocs reduces transaction risk, simplifying U.S. dairy trade in a way that builds on itself to encourage even greater volumes.”

    Although eDocs only recently rolled out, there is an urgency for U.S. suppliers to sign up: At press time, AMS was planning to shut down its previous online order system on Sept. 1, 2013. The agency will continue to accept fax requests, but the fax method will grow increasingly costly in the months ahead, as AMS raises its fees.

    To use eDocs and USDA’s associated Electronic Trade Document Exchange (eTDE) system, suppliers must first register for a level-2 USDA e-Authentication account, which requires an in-person visit to a USDA service center. Each individual who will be requesting certificates must register to use the system—there is no companywide registration. For more information on eDocs registration, click here.

    USDEC, AMS Dairy Grading, AMS Information Technology, USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service and Acentia (a private systems developer) all played critical roles over the course of the project.

    “All parties worked tirelessly to bring this system to life, and we are eager to see the benefits to the industry and government,” says Benson. “eDocs is a major step forward in transitioning to all-electronic documentation, but we still have a ways to go before we are completely paperless. In fact, AMS will maintain issuing paper certificates for the time being, as we continue to work as a team to finalize implementation across the EU and introduce it elsewhere in the world, starting in China.”

    Once paper certificates are completely eliminated, the system will bring another set of benefits in reduced costs from eliminating the need to courier health certificates overseas. There are also efforts underway to broach the subject of electronic commercial documents with Customs authorities, which has the potential to eliminate the need to courier paper overseas altogether.

    Says Benson, “These types of long-term development projects are perfect examples of how industry and government can work together to do the heavy technical lifting needed to resolve issues that limit the U.S. dairy industry’s ability to fully capitalize on rising export demand.”

    (This article first appeared in the September 2013 edition of Export Profile.)

    Image copyright: 123RF Stock Photo

    The U.S. Dairy Export Council is primarily supported by Dairy Management Inc. through the dairy farmer checkoff that builds on collaborative industry partnerships with processors, trading companies and others to build global demand for U.S. dairy products.   



    Market Access Documentation EU
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