CODEX Generic Model Official Certificate (CODEX)


To describe and attest to attributes of consignments of food destined for international trade.


The certificate is issued by, or under the control of the exporting country’s competent authority, including by a certifying body recognised by the competent authority to issue such a certificate.

The certificate is received by the competent authority of the importing country.

Legal requirement

Official certificates are a legal requirement to ensure through attestations and essential information that food safety and/or fair practices in the food trade requirements are met.


Paperless exchange of official certificates is the act of competent authorities or certifying bodies providing, receiving and archiving the identified information and relevant attestations required by the importing country in electronic form.

The capability for electronic exchanges of certificates is larger than the implementation of paperless exchange of certificates.

A rough estimation based on the answers of the 25 countries which answered a recent OECD survey is that currently a maximum of 8% of the certificates has been covered by electronic exchanges. An unknown percentage of these exchanges is paperless.



Basically there are no differences.

The generic reference model (which is extracted from the UN/CEFACT Electronic SPS Certificate, short eCert) of the Codex generic model official certificate has been the primary guidance for any data standardisation initiatives, including the updating the WCO Data Model Codex Derived Information Package.


Exchanges are on bilateral G2G basis.

  1. The electronic certification system of the importing competent authority retrieves (the information is “pulled”) or receives (the information is “pushed”) certificates data directly from the electronic certification system of the exporting competent authority or certifying body through a web service interface (e.g. Simple Object Access Protocol, short SOAP).
  2. The electronic certification system of the exporting competent authority or certifying body provides certificates to the competent authority or to the certifying body of the importing country through Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP).


See Generic reference model of the Codex generic model official certificate.


Identification of automation needs for SPS-certification systems in a single window environment at the national level and consideration of the appropriate expansion of use of digital technologies for the capability to electronic exchange SPS certificates through single window interoperability[1].


Examine the potential for further contributions from relevant international organisations to the identification of appropriate digital technological solutions to facilitate international paperless exchanges of health certificates in a single window environment[2].


  1. OECD (2021), "Digital opportunities for Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Systems and the trade facilitation effects of SPS Electronic Certification", OECD Food, Agriculture and Fisheries Papers, No. 152, OECD Publishing, Paris,
  2. Ibid.