As Honduras is in the process of restructuring and modernizing its customs procedures, it is vital that U.S. exporters pay close attention to documentation requirements, making sure that all required documents are carefully completed in order to avoid delays or heavy fines when clearing goods through customs.
Imports of raw and processed agricultural products need an import permit application issued by the National Service of Food Safety, Plant and Animal Health (SENASA) of the Secretariat of Agriculture and Livestock (SAG). Import permits can now be requested and obtained via SENASA’s online platform. In addition to issuing import permits, SENASA regulates the inspection of all agricultural products entering Honduras.
In order to obtain import permits, all importers of food products, additives, pesticides, and inputs used in food processing must submit the following documents to SENASA:
- Phyto- or Zoo-Sanitary Certificate
- Certificate of Origin
- Photocopy of Pro-Form Commercial Invoice
The documents listed above, and the import request must be clear, with consistent information about the importer and exporter, amounts, product description, origin and point of shipping. SENASA requires that the certificates be filled out completely with the name, date, and signature of the official issuing the certificate.
Agricultural imports of food products – raw or processed – of animal origin should show the expiration date, lot number and production date in Spanish on the shipping carton(s). The dates must be provided in the Day/Month/Year format (DD/MM/YYYY). If a first-time exporter does not comply with this requirement, the product is retained and SENASA allows a label to be applied. However, if the exporter has not repeatedly had the required labels, the product is not allowed entry.
SENASA requests the issuance of Phyto- or Zoo-sanitary Certificates by a U.S. federal government authority in the plant where the food products have been processed. SENASA does not accept documents from commercial trading companies. Under CAFTA-DR, Honduras recognized the United States inspection services as equivalent to the one in Honduras. This equivalence eliminates the requirement of a pre-certification of the U.S. exporter’s facilities.
Imports of U.S. fresh/frozen and cooked poultry products must come with an USDA’s FSIS Certificate (Form 9060-5). SENASA has requested that USDA add an Additional Declaration (AD) to the FSIS certificates for poultry imports. The AD should indicate that “All fresh/frozen poultry meat, including mechanically deboned meat (MDM) comes from an area free of high or low pathogenic Avian Influenza. SENASA indicates that it is the importers’ as well as the exporters’ responsibility to stay abreast of outbreaks so they can assure SENASA of the health status of the area of origin. Since SENASA’s on-line platform went live in June 2020 (amid the COVID-19 pandemic curfew), the time of issuance of import permits has reduced to less than 4 working hours when all required documents are provided.
Importers of dairy products with the Harmonized Code (HC) from 04.01 to 04.06 and 1901.10.1 and 1901.90.20 should have an import license issued by the Ministry of Economic Development (SDE): https://sde.gob.hn/prohonduras/. The HCs are for milk, cream, butter, yogurt, cheeses, baby formula, and powdered milk. Importers will need to register only once. The license will have a 60-day validity and can be extended at the request of the importer. In order to issue the import license, SDE needs to have copy of the Import Permit that SENASA issues to the importer. SDE will assign a number to be used for the import procedure. The Tax Administration Service requests the number of the Import License when the importer registers the dairy import into its system.
Among the general documentation required by Customs are the original of the import permit application, commercial invoice, bill of lading, packing list, certificate of origin, Phyto or Zoo-sanitary certificates and photocopy of import license for dairy products. The Phyto or Zoo-sanitary certificate must be provided by a U.S. federal or state authority.
For detailed information on import permit requirements, please refer to, Honduras GAIN Reports: Food and Agricultural Import Regulations and Standards (FAIRS Country Report HO17606, FAIRS Export Certificate Report HO17607 and Exporter Guide Report HO1708).
How to Declare Origination on Goods
CAFTA-DR designates the importer with the responsibility of claiming preferential treatment under the agreement. The importer should work with the U.S. exporter to ensure that the U.S. good meets the relevant rules of origin under CAFTA-DR prior to making a claim. The assistance and cooperation of U.S. suppliers in producing accurate and well-documented claims for preferential treatment is vital.
Demonstrating Eligibility for Preferential Tariff Treatment
Honduras requires a special Certificate of Origin for imports from the United States to be submitted. The main purpose of the document is to certify that the product is originated in the United States, which in turn allows it to receive the preferential tariff treatment agreed upon in CAFTA-DR. In the case of agricultural products, the producer, exporter, or importer could provide the certificate with all the required information. The CAFTA-DR certificate is required by the Honduran Customs Administration.
In general, a product’s eligibility for preferential tariff treatment may be demonstrated in a variety of ways provided it is in written form. One can provide a statement on company letterhead, a statement on a commercial invoice, or a certification. While no official form is required to demonstrate eligibility for preferential tariff treatment under CAFTA-DR, an import certification should include the following information:
- The name of the certifying person, including, as necessary, contact, or other identifying information
- Tariff classification under the Harmonized System and the description of the good
- Information demonstrating the good’s country of origin
- Date of the certification
- In the case of blanket period certification, the time over which the certification is applicable
In some situations, multiple shipments of identical goods are being sent to the same CAFTA-DR importer. In these cases, it is not necessary to create a new written certification for each individual shipment. The importer may maintain one “blanket” certificate which must comply with all the same requirements as for one shipment to be presented to the customs authority. The “blanket period” may not exceed one year from the date signed in the Certificate of Origin.
Additional information may be found at https://www.trade.gov/us-cafta-dr-free-trade-agreement
Sanitary product registration in Honduras is overseen by the Sanitary Regulatory Agency (ARSA), established in 2017. ARSA oversees issuing the sanitary registration number (SRN) and inspection of processed food products, medicines, natural products, cosmetics, medical devices, and hygiene products approved to be sold at the retail and wholesale level. Food inputs waiting to be processed or re-packed do not need an SRN. ARSA’s regulations for product registration can be found at: https://www.arsa.gob.hn/
Sanitary product registration procedures can be done by the importer’s legal representative, though it is not necessary to have an attorney. The SRN is valid for five years. For food items, ARSA has eliminated the requirement to submit product samples for laboratory analysis before issuing an SRN, as it now conducts food safety verifications on-site. The importer’s local representative should regularly check ARSA’s website to verify the status of the SRN authorization.
Central America Customs Union (CACU) member countries have harmonized Sanitary Registration and Sanitary Inscription procedures for processed food products (Central American Technical Regulation-RTCA). Through this procedure, products registered in one CACU country do not need to be registered again in another. Products manufactured in the U.S. are not eligible for this registration exemption. However, the product’s Country of Origin is considered CACU if processed in a CACU member country, even if the raw material originates from a non-CACU country. Additional information and forms are available at the Central America Secretariat of Economic Integration’s (SIECA) website: https://www.sieca.int