Foreign Standards & Certification for Exports and Imports

Foreign Standards & Certification for Exports and Imports

In this guide, you will learn about some import and export rules and specifications for all World Trade Organization (WTO) member countries.

Technical Barriers to Trade Agreement & WTO members

Under the Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT Agreement), member-countries of the World Trade Organization (WTO) are required to adhere to all proposed technical regulations that could affect trade with other member countries.

Agriculture-specific Requirements & Certifications  

There are a number of international requirements and certifications imposed on the trade of agricultural products. The Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) works to make sure that these regulations are science-based, predictable, and available for public knowledge. Its online system tracks and informs WTO members about regulatory changes or updates.

Common FAS Databases:  

  • Food and Agricultural Import Regulations and Standards (FAIRS) Report
  • Maximum Residue Limits (MRL) 
  • Food Safety Group Information


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The Governing Agencies of Agricultural Exports and Imports

  • The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS): Regulates imports and exports of animals and plants. 
  • Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS): Provides guidance on the imports and exports of meat and poultry. Its services include providing guidance on packaging, labeling, and other special conditions.
  • Grain Inspection, Packers, and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA): Governs the export of grains, oilseeds, and other related products. 
  • United States Department of Agriculture (USDA):  Issues export certification documents for agricultural goods.


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European CE Markings 

The CE Marking (Conformite Europenne) is a certification and proof that a given product meets the health, safety, and environmental requirements of the European Union. Whenever applicable, European and foreign manufacturers must provide proof of conformity. Only a business entity that has passed the conformity assessment process can actually affix the CE Marking on their products.  

There are 33 countries where CE Markings are required:  

Austria - Hungary- Poland

Belgium- Iceland*- Portugal

Bulgaria- Ireland- Romania

Croatia- Italy-Slovakia

Cyprus- Latvia- Slovenia

Czech Republic- Liechtenstein*- Spain


Estonia- Luxembourg-Switzerland*

Finland- Malta - Turkey*  

France- Netherlands- United Kingdom

Germany- Greece- Norway* 

*** Although not officially part of the European Union, Norway, Iceland, and Liechtenstein are signatories to the European Economic Area (EEA), thus they require CE Markings on products.  

***Switzerland is not a member of the EU, nor is it a signatory to the EEA, but the country has transposed the Medical Devices Directives into its national law, thus it requires CE Markings as well.  

China Compulsory Certification (CCC Mark)

The CCC Mark is a compulsory safety mark for imported products into the Chinese market. The China National Certification and Accreditation Administration (CNCA) uses the CCC Mark as a means to protect national security, human health and safety, animal and plant life or health, and environment and prevention of deceptive practices. 

Product types that require CCC Markings:

  • Electrical Wires & Cables
  • Switches, Circuits, Installations
  • Connection Devices
  • Low-Voltage Electrical Apparatus
  • Small Power Motors
  • Electric Tools
  • Electrical Appliances
  • Audio & Video Equipment
  • IT Equipment
  • Lighting Equipment
  • Fire Fighting Machinery/Products
  • Medical Devices
  • Safety Glass
  • Latex Products
  • Alarm Detectors


ISO Standards

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) is an independent, non-governmental international organization, meant to share trade knowledge and develop business markets across its 164 member nations.  

ISO’s Programs and Involvement  

  • Testing and Calibration Laboratories
  • Medical Devices
  • Language Codes
  • Currency Codes
  • Risk/Emergency Management
  • Country Codes
  • Occupational Health and Safety
  • Anti-Bribery Management Systems
  • Information Security Management


Packaging and Recycling Laws

In recent years, many countries have passed packaging and recycling laws that directly affect U.S. exporters:

  • China’s “National Sword” Policy
  • The United Kingdom- Banning Plastic Waste Exports

To find out if your packaging materials are compliant with your importer’s domestic regulations,  you can visit and check out the “Labeling and Marketing Section.”