Each year, vast quantities of live animals and goods are being traded within and into the European Union (EU) for the benefit of over 500 million Europeans, raising the question: how can the European citizens be sure that the food reaching their plates is safe? For this reason, the European Commission has taken extensive action in this direction over the past years in order to ensure the safety of the agri-food chain. The establishment of TRACES has been an essential component for this accomplishment.
TRACES is the European Commission's online platform for sanitary and phytosanitary certification required for the importation of animals, animal products, food and feed of non-animal origin and plants into the European Union, and the intra-EU trade and EU exports of animals and certain animal products.
Today, TRACES is an indispensable tool used in about 90 countries, with more than 55.000 users worldwide for the issuance of sanitary and phytosanitary certificates and official documents required for imports, exports and intra EU movements of live animals and goods.
The main objective of TRACES is to streamline the certification process and all linked entry procedures and to offer a fully digitised and paperless workflow.
It facilitates the exchange of data, information and documents between all involved trading parties and control authorities and therefore simplifies and speeds up the administrative procedures.
The possibility to trace back and forth all the movements of animals, animal products, food and feed of non-animal origin and plants contributes to the reduction of the impact of disease outbreaks and allows for a quick response to counter certain serious risks along the agri-food chain.
The TRACES platform enhances cooperation and coordination between the competent authorities of EU countries and non-EU countries, but also between the traders themselves and their competent authorities. When a decision is taken on a consignment, the involved parties are notified and have access to the relevant documents. TRACES allows for the quick detection of fake certificates and therefore contributes to the fight against food fraud and enhances cooperation and collaboration between authorities.
The integrated statistical tool allows the extraction of valuable data in relation to imports into the EU, exports from the EU and intra-Union trade.
The following video showcases TRACES, and explains how it enhances food safety within the European Union, while facilitating the certification procedures for both economic operators and competent authorities.
TRACES is available in the 23 official languages of the EU and in 34 languages in total; this facilitates the use of TRACES also for the non-EU countries' competent authorities and trading partners.
TRACES is accessible 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, free of charge. What is only needed in order to access, is to have an internet connection and set up an account.
TRACES is an efficient tool to ensure:
- Traceability (monitoring movements of consignments, both within the EU and from non-EU countries);
- Information exchange (enabling trade partners and competent authorities to easily exchange information on the movements of their consignments and by significantly speeding up administrative procedures);
- Risk management (reacting rapidly to health threats by tracing the movements of consignments and facilitating the risk management of rejected consignments).
In line with the Commission’s digital strategy, Shaping Europe's Digital Future, the electronic certification capability of TRACES NT has revolutionized the traditional sanitary and phytosanitary certification practices by enabling both EU and non-EU authorities to stamp digitally official documents and certificates, thus, making the use of paper certification obsolete.
TRACES NT features electronic certification for both EU and non-EU counties competent authorities. This feature allows the authorities to acquire an electronic seal and electronic signature capacity for officials responsible to issue official certificates or to sign a decision taken on a consignment.
The standards applied in TRACES for electronic seals meet the qualified level of identity assurance set by Regulation (EU) No 910/2014 (eIDAS Regulation). This level of identity assurance enables electronic transactions with the same legal standing as transactions that are performed on paper.
The European Commission offers this feature free of charge and brings interested authorities in contact with the trust service provider it has selected to provide trust services for TRACES.
For more information concerning the electronic certification process, please write to the TRACES Helpdesk (firstname.lastname@example.org).
In the following video, TRACES experts from France, Martinique, Morocco and Spain, share their experience with regard to the use of the new TRACES platform, and in particular concerning the electronic certification and the way that it has revamped their daily work.
- Contact the TRACES Helpdesk to obtain more information on the use of TRACES at +32 2 297 63 50 or via email: SANTE-TRACES@ec.europa.eu
- Discover the TRACES Documentation website; your gateway to all user manuals and guides on all the modules that are available in TRACES
- Register on CIRCABC and join the TRACES Toolkit group to gain access to additional material and information in relation to TRACES (documentation/ presentations / web services etc.)
- TRACES New Technology (NT)
- TRACES NT Documentation website
- TRACES Toolkit
- Trade Helpdesk
- Non-EU Approved Establishment lists
- Approved EU food establishments
- Animal by-products approved establishments
- Lists of Border Control Posts (Veterinary)
- Lists of BCPs & CPs (Products of non-animal origin)
- Lists of BCPs & CPs (Plants)
- Technical specifications (ABP establishments)
- Technical specifications (Food establishments)