In 2019 the Government of the Republic of Ivory Coast implemented a verification of conformity (VOC) program for exports to the country. SGS, as a Certified Body awarding Certificates of Conformity (CoC), plays a vital role in helping exporters to full compliance and straightforward and speedy trading in the Ivory Coast.
By signing Decree No. 2017-567 of September 6, 2017, the Government of the Republic of Ivory Coast decided to set up a VOC program. It is a solution designed to ensure that specific products meet the requirements of technical regulations or standards set by the Regulatory Authority of Ivory Coast. This program was implemented on July 1, 2019 and currently remains in force for bills of lading (BL), air waybills (AWB) or any other transport documents (for road or train). The minimum threshold for a shipment to be subject to the VOC is XOF 1,000,000 or EUR 1,525.
In this issue of the PCA Newsletter, we will answer key and frequent questions:
What is the scope of the VOC program?
As part of this program, the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Promotion of Small and Medium Enterprises (MCIPPME) requires that goods imported into Ivory Coast be subject to verification of their compliance with mandatory standards. This is to ensure that these goods conform with national, international, regional standards and technical regulations approved by Ivory Coast. Regulated goods, new as well as second-hand, intended for sale on the Ivorian market are therefore subject to the VOC.
However, not all goods are subject to VOC. Therefore, the MCIPPME has published a list of goods which are included.
The program’s objectives are to:
- Improve product safety and compliance
- Facilitate customs clearance processes
- Promote of fair competition
- Prevent counterfeits
- Protect consumers
- Protect the environment
- Increase transparency
- Improve trade relations and investments
- Improve the economic environment
Operationally, the process, the assessment methods (Routes) and the list of products exempted under the VOC program are as follows:
The exporter submits the following documents to SGS:
- Request for Certification (indicating the point of entry into Ivory Coast)
- PROFORMA invoice or final invoice
- Quality Management System certification (if available)
- Conformity documents: test reports (including manufacturer's internal test reports), quality certificates, certificates of analysis (including manufacturer's internal certificates of analysis), technical data sheets, etc.
To obtain evidence that all requirements are met, in terms of applicable standards or technical regulations, products must undergo one, or a combination of the following verification processes:
- Documentary verification
- Physical inspection
- Laboratory testing: accepted laboratories are as follows:
- SGS ISO/IEC 17025 accredited laboratories
- Third-party ISO/IEC 17025 accredited laboratories operating as per the International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC) guidelines
- Third party non-accredited laboratories
- Manufacturer's internal laboratory
- Factory audit
- After the verification process is completed and the results are satisfactory, the exporter must submit the final invoice and the foreign direct investment (FDI) document containing the FDI
- number, importer code and the importer's taxpayer’s account number for the issuance of the CoC
- Assessment methods Three methods are proposed to the exporters, to demonstrate the compliance of their products and to obtain a CoC
- Route A: applicable to all products, sensitive products and to all sellers
- Route B: recommended for frequent exporters with homogeneous products. The Route B registration fee is EUR 275, regardless of the number of product lines valid for one year
- Route C: for certified products
- Exempted products
- Gold and other precious metals
- Precious stones
- Explosives, weapons, ammunition, and other war materials intended for national armed forces and for police forces
- Live animals
- Fresh vegetables and fruits
- Fresh, deep frozen and frozen fish
- Fresh, deep frozen and frozen meat
- Plants and floricultural products
- Raw products and traditional handicraft of community origin
- Drugs and materials used to manufacture drugs
- Newspapers and periodicals, postage or tax stamps, stamp paper, banknotes, check books, passports and certain printed documents
- Personal effects and used household items
- Used vehicles
- Crude or partially refined petroleum
- Commercial samples
- Supplies for diplomatic and consular missions, or international organizations, imported for their own needs
- Production machines subject to, or benefiting from, exemption (as part of the code of investments through a request made to the Monitoring Committee of the VOC program)
- Imported equipment, goods and materials intended for petroleum and mining operations (benefiting from the advantages of the mining and petroleum codes)
- Imports related to free regimes/zones
With regard to materials used by local industry, manufacturers should have them pre-registered with the VOC program Monitoring Committee, in order to be eligible for an exemption over a period of 12 months. During the operational phase of the program which began on July 1, 2019, this is mandatory for all products contained in the list of regulated products. This list is available on the official website of the Ministry of Commerce: www.commerce.gouv.ci.
The VOC is a program qualified for an “Exporting Country,” i.e., the entire conformity assessment procedure must take place in the country of departure of the goods. It is strongly recommended that exporters first obtain their CoC before shipping their goods to Ivory Coast.
What is the difference between VOC and the Advance Cargo Information program (ACI)?
For imports of goods and merchandise in the Republic of Ivory Coast, two mandatory application programs have been put in place by the government: namely the Advance Cargo Information program (ACI) and the Pre-shipment Verification of Conformity program (VOC).
The Ivorian Shipper’s Authority (OIC) has the public service concession under the decree n°95-820 dated September 29, 1995 and the ACI program is established by Ministerial order n° 340 dated November 12, 2001. SGS is the technical support for this program.
The ACI has the provision to offer online monitoring of cargoes on ships as well as the freight rate, while the VOC ensures that the goods imported into the Republic of Ivory Coast comply with the standards and technical regulations in force.
Thus, these two programs each have a specific and distinct scope.
What are the conformity assessment fees which need to be paid? Can they be paid in the Republic of Ivory Coast?
No, fees cannot be paid in the Republic of Ivory Coast. These costs are borne by the exporter. Below is a summary of the costs:
|Route||Compliance verification fee applied to free on board (FOB) value||Minimum (EUR)||Maximum (EUR)|
Do we have to do physical inspections in Route B or Route C?
You need to do both. Routine physical inspections will be done on a quarterly basis for shipments benefiting from Route B, and on a semi-annual basis for shipments benefiting from Route C.
Can we do a voluntary certification?
Yes, voluntary certification is allowed under the VOC program in force in Ivory Coast for goods not subject to the VOC, and for shipments below the minimum threshold.
Learn more about Ivory Coast – Verification of Conformity (VOC).
This article can also be found in our PCA Newsletter (Q3/2022) – which keeps you up to date with developments in technical barriers to trade and product conformity assessment.
Read more in our PCA Newsletter
- Pre-Shipment Verification Update for Kenya
- Trade and Certification: the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
- Selling to KSA: PCA update on food and drug regulations
- Updates to SGS’s Pre-Shipment Verification of Conformity Program for the Central African Republic
- Understanding South Sudan’s New Pre-Export Verification of Conformity (PVoC) Program
- New Developments in Uganda’s PVoC Program
- Pre-shipment Verification of Conformity for Tanzania
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