Pre-Export Verification of Conformity (PVoC) Certificate

What does PVOC mean? What is a pre-export verification of conformity certificate? How to use a pvoc certificate in a letter of credit transaction?


PVoC is a conformity assessment programme lunched by some African states with the aim of controlling the quality of imported goods in order to minimize the risk of unsafe and substandard goods entering into their markets.

Pre-Export Verification of Conformity or Conformity Assessment Programmes are put into action in accordance with the Article 5 of World Trade Organization’s Technical Barriers to Trade agreement.

Pre-Export Verification of Conformity or Conformity Assessment Programmes are administered by The Standards Body of each country on behalf of so called country’s Government.

All inspections and tests are carried out by the appointed independent verification partners on regulated goods in the country of supply.

Some well-known independent international inspection companies are Bureau Veritas, Intertek, Société Générale de Surveillance (SGS) etc.

What are the Benefits of Pre-Export Verification of Conformity Programmes:

  • Only good quality products will be imported by eliminating the unsafe ones.
  • Importation of poor quality and sub-standard products is prevented. This will lead to a more fair competition between local manufacturers and the global ones.
  • Pre-Export Verification of Conformity Programmes are usually compensated by exporters. This means that costs are not borne by the government, or importers.
  • If local standards are not existed international standards are utilized. This means that the reputable manufacturers will be able to comply with a very little effort.

Which Countries are Using Pre-Export Verification of Conformity or Conformity Assessment Programmes:

As of November 2014 below countries are found to be using Pre-Export Verification of Conformity Programmes. Please keep in mind that this list may have been changed.

  • Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
  • Nigeria
  • Kuwait
  • Tanzania
  • Uganda
  • Kenya

How Does a Pre-Export Verification of Conformity Programme Work Under Standard Circumstances?

  • Each country’s Government instructs its local National Standards Body to apply Pre-Export Verification of Conformity Programme on imports and defines the list of products which must comply.
  • National Standards Body appoints independent inspection companies to handle the testing.
  • These approved independent inspection companies provide test services to exporters, and issues certificates of conformity for products that pass the tests.
  • Certificate of Conformity is a mandatory document required by the customs of the countries stated above which apply Pre-Export Verification of Conformity Programme.

How Does a PVoC Certificate Work in Letters of Credit?

  • Letters of Credit deal with the documents only, not the actual work:

There is a very clear distinction exists between the letter of credit and other payment methods in international trade:

Letter of credit transactions are executed by banks according to internationally accepted rules. When banks handle letter of credit transactions they deal with the documents only.

As an example, banks are not interested in an actual shipment, but they check the transportation documents in order to determine whether shipment has been made according to the letter of credit terms or not.

This example is also true for PVoC programme.

Banks deal with the Certificate of Conformity, which is issued by an approved independent inspection company after carrying out necessary tests.

  • Understanding Certificate of Conformity Under PVoC Programmes:

“Certificate of Conformity” which is also known as “Type Approval” is granted to a product that meets a minimum set of regulatory, technical and safety requirements.

Generally, type approval is required before a product is allowed to be sold in a particular country. In order to get the Certificate of Conformity you should follow these steps :

  • Step 1: Make sure that Certificate of Conformity (COC) is a must on your export. You have to verify that you are exporting to one of the countries that apply PVoC programmes and your product is covered by these regulations. In simple words you have to make a country and product verification to understand whether or not you have to supply a Certificate of Conformity.
  • Step 2: Apply to one of the independent inspection companies which is authorized to carry out tests under PVoC programmes by the importer country’s National Standards Body.
  • Step 3: If your product pass the required tests, the independent inspection company will be issuing the Certificate of Conformity.
  • Understanding Letter of Credit Rules Regarding the Certificate of Conformity Under PVoC Programmes:

Certificate of Conformity is explained in ISBP 745 under the title “Analysis, Inspection, Health, Phytosanitary, Quantity Quality And Other Certificates (“Certificate”)”.

Here are the important points of consideration;

  • According to ISBP 745 title of the document is not important. ISBP states that “…titled as called for in the credit, or bearing a similar title or untitled…”. According to ISBP 745 the important point is the function of the document as ISBP states “…that fulfills its function by certifying the outcome of the required action…”.
  • Inspection of goods must take place before shipment and this must be indicated on the certificate one of the following methods,
    • issuance date of the certificate is no later than the date of shipment
    • even if the issuance date of the certificate is after the date of shipment a statement must indicate that inspection took place before shipment or similar effect.
    • title of the certificate must be indicating the event, for example, certificate titled as “Pre-shipment Inspection Certificate”.
  • A certificate is to be issued by the entity stated in the credit.
  • When a credit does not indicate the name of an issuer, any entity including the beneficiary may issue a certificate.
  • When a credit makes reference to an issuer of a certificate in the context of its being “independent”, “official”, “qualified” or words of similar effect, a certificate may be issued by any entity except the beneficiary.
  • The consignor or exporter indicated on the certificate may be an entity other than the beneficiary of the credit or the shipper as shown on any other stipulated document.