How is the Physical inspection of goods carried out?

Physical examination of goods is common and often necessary in international trade.

European customs officials can exercise control over which products can enter their jurisdiction and in what state and condition they are found through physical inspections.

Physical inspection assists in the security of goods transit operations, as it can help prevent illegal trafficking of certain species of flora and animals.

Similarly, the result of a physical examination can prohibit the entry of dangerous goods or products that do not meet EU commercial quality and industrial safety requirements.

Thus, physical inspections of foodstuffs and medicines will assess whether they meet the hygienic-sanitary standards necessary for their consumption.

Therefore, physical inspection of products is essential to ensure fair, safe and reliable international trade, as well as to prevent illegal activities that endanger human health and safety.


Who performs the Physical inspections?

As mentioned above, physical examination varies according to the nature of the items being imported or exported.

Therefore, in Spain, there are several entities in charge of the physical examination of products; these institutions are called Customs Inspection Services.

These Inspection Services, in turn, are subordinated to various Ministries under the General State Administration.

In addition, each Autonomous Community has Functional Areas of Health, Agriculture and Fisheries which oversee physical inspections.

Bearing in mind that physical inspection is a customs-related operation, the Customs Department of the Tax Agency provides information on the inspection processes of products, both for import and export.

Finally, physical inspections are carried out at so-called Border Inspection Posts (BIPs), which are usually located in port or airport enclosures.

The products are physically inspected at the border inspection points (BIPs), where they have the necessary equipment to inspect the goods.

In Spain, the most important BIPs are those at Madrid-Barajas and Barcelona-El Prat airports, as well as those at the ports of Barcelona, Algeciras, and Valencia.

What items are inspected?

Foreign Health, Pharmacy, Animal Health, Plant Health and SOIVRE are the agencies responsible for the physical examination of the products.


Products for Human Consumption

The Foreign Health Service must examine all imports of animal and non-animal products intended for human consumption.

In addition, this Service inspects goods of animal origin destined for the pharmaceutical sector.

These products imported from third countries are inspected upon entry into the national territory.

The list of goods requiring sanitary or veterinary inspection can be consulted here.

Foreign Health is subordinate to the Ministry of Health, as it is responsible for all matters relating to hygienic-sanitary standards for human use and consumption.


Cosmetics, Pharmaceuticals and Medicals Devices

All health-related products must pass physical inspection by the Pharmacy Service.

Included in this category are pharmaceutical products and medicines for human use, medical devices, cosmetics, personal care, and hygiene products, as well as the raw materials for their production.

On the website of the Spanish Agency of Medicines and Health Products you can consult the products that are subject to Pharmacy Inspection (AEMPS).

The Ministry of Health is also responsible for pharmacy inspections.


Animals in their natural state and products of animal origin not intended for human consumption

Live animals, articles of animal origin not intended for human consumption, veterinary drugs and products intended for animal feed must pass the veterinary physical examination of the Animal Health Service.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food is responsible for the Animal Health Service.

In addition, the European Commission maintains a web page dedicated to Animal Health inspections.

In general, physical inspections are carried out on goods intended for human consumption, pharmaceuticals, medical equipment and cosmetics, live animals and animal products intended for non-human use, plant and agri-food products, industrial products and protected species.


Agricultural and botanical Products

The Plant Health Service inspects all imports and exports of plants and agricultural products.

This Service inspects phytosanitary products destined to be introduced into the European Union, as well as Spanish products destined for export to other nations.

The purpose of this type of physical examination is to prevent the entry of potentially dangerous organisms and germs that could endanger and harm humans and the environment.

Therefore, plants, pollen, seeds, and grains are examined, as well as fresh fruits, vegetables, tubers, fresh flowers, plant tissues and wood.

The Plant Health Services and Phytosanitary Inspections are administered by the Ministry of the Environment, Rural and Marine Affairs, which has been expanded to include the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food.


Agri-food products, Industrial products and Endangered species

The SOIVRE Service (Official Export Inspection, Surveillance and Regulation Service) inspects the import of agri-food and industrial products and mainly controls the commercial quality of these products.

In the agri-food category, imported goods such as meat, fish, dairy products, eggs, vegetables, fruits, seeds, and oils are examined.

Inspections of industrial products focus mainly on toys, textiles and footwear, furniture, and certain electrical materials.

SOIVRE reports to the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism, and the inspections it carries out ensure compliance with product safety and quality requirements.

In addition, SOIVRE is responsible for inspecting and regulating trade in species protected by the CITES Convention (wild fauna and flora and their derivatives).

In addition, the inspection covers animals and plants, live or dead, as well as their parts, derivatives and goods containing them, with the aim of protecting them and preventing illegal trafficking.


What is the physical inspection procedure?

When the merchandise arrives at the customs precinct, Customs assigns it a channel according to the degree of examination required:

  • Green channel: does not require any control.
  • Yellow channel: involves a minimally invasive physical examination (by scanner).
  • Orange channel: a strictly documentary examination is performed.
  • Red channel: involves a physical examination of the products, including visual and physical identification, as well as the option of collecting samples for analysis.


If the products are transported in a container and require physical inspection, there are three options:

  • Empty the container and transport the items to a warehouse to inspect the entire contents.
  • Scan the container to determine what is stored inside.
  • At the border inspection post, place the container and collect one or more samples of the goods for examination.


Can we assist you with the Physical Examination of your Goods?

At Connecta, we can help you with the physical examination of your products throughout the entire customs procedure, regardless of whether they are imported or exported.

Our knowledge and experience as customs brokers can help you streamline the documentation and procedural processes associated with physical inspection.

In addition, our team of experts can advise you on the certifications that may be required by Customs depending on the type of goods or product.

As a result, we can ensure that your products pass foreign health, animal, or plant health, SOIVRE and pharmaceutical physical inspections.

Our efforts will save you unnecessary visits and we will resolve any doubts or difficulties quickly and efficiently, saving you time and money.


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