In the event of the UK leaving the EU without a deal, all animals, products of animal origin (POAO), fish, shellfish, crustaceans, germplasm or fishery products exported from the UK to the EU will require an export health certificate (EHC). EHCs have to be certified by either a suitably accredited Official Veterinarian (OV) or, in the case of fish and fish products, either an OV or an Environmental Health Officer (EHO) employed by a local authority.
Defra does not employ OVs or EHOs so we have engaged with the private sector and local government to identify means of increasing the number of authorised signatories available. From February we have provided free training for vets to become accredited to sign EHCs. Over 300 vets have completed the training, an increase of just under 50% in the total number of suitably qualified OVs.
To support OVs we also created a new role of Certification Support Officer (CSO). A CSO can handle preparatory and administrative aspects of EHCs (checking documents, identifying products or sealing containers). This will free up OV time and capacity to provide the final assurance required. The number of qualified CSOs stands at 84.