A. General Information

1. Title

Exchange electronic phytosanitary certificates (ePhytos) between Korea and the USA

2. Status of the project
3. Implementation period of the project/service:
May 2021
5. Geographical coverage
Participating countries: Republic of Korea, United States of America
6. Participating agencies/entities of the project/service:
a. Development stage
Lead agencies/entities
International Plant Protection Convention Secretariat
Other participating agencies/entities
b. Operational stage
Lead agencies/entities (op)
International Plant Protection Convention Secretariat
Other participating agencies/entities (op)
7. Main stakeholders/beneficiaries of the project
Traders (big enterprises)
Traders (SMEs)
Customs brokers
8. Business process category of the project
Regulatory/official control

B. Lessons Learned

9. Summary description of the project/service
a. Objective(s)

The Animal and Plant Quarantine Agency (APQA) of the Republic of Korea started a new digital operation to exchange electronic phytosanitary certificates (ePhytos) developed by the Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC). The Republic of Korea will replace paper phytosanitary certificates exchanged with the United States Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) with ePhytos for all plant products traded with the United States of America.

When importers apply phytosanitary import inspection through Customs single window system, they can click “ePhyto” and put ePhyto numbers. This info is automatically transferred to APQA system which is connected to the IPPC hub to retrieve the ePhyto. If exporters want to use ePhyto, after export inspection relevant information is filled in the National system and ePhyto is transferred to the hub upon approval of the relevant senior staff.

b. Business need for the project (background)

To face the challenges deriving from the use of paper certificates (paper certificates can be costly, are logistically complicated and difficult to protect against fraud).

c. Business process covered*

Exchange of electronic Phytosanitary Certificates  

d. Overall architecture and functionalities*

The national developed systems are used to exchange ePhyto data via the HUB (

The HUB is a centralized system to facilitate exchange of ePhytos between NPPOs with a set of prescribed rules of connection and defined structure/codes/terms for the XML message.

Use of the Hub is voluntary

The Hub is a single, multilateral system

The Hub will be available 24/7 (secure and monitored)

No information (messages, transactions) should be lost

There is a single exchange protocol

The IPPC determines the version of UN/CEFACT schema

Participating countries will require a National System to exchange ePhyto through the Hub or use the Generic system

For more detail refer to the link:



e. Relevant document/figure
10. Documents and data exchanged via the project

Exchange of electronic Phytosanitary Certificates  

11. Data models/databases, proprietary solutions, hybrid approaches
12. Main challenges faced during the project
13. Lessons learned from the project
14. Main benefit(s) of the project
Enhanced regulatory compliance*
Transaction Cost savings*
Transaction Time savings
Simplified process
14A. Elaborations/detailed description on benefits gained

More efficient certification process

Reduced fraud


15. Technical/financial/capacity building/other assistance
16. Future plan for expansion of the project

Korea itends to gradually extend implementation of Epyhto with a number of countries, including Generic ePhyto National System (GeNS) countries (Uganda, Sri Lanka and Guatemala).

17. Other information or relevant references on the project


Authentication of systems that contact the hub through X.509 certificates

Sender identity verified through X.509 certificates

Single Web Services Description Language (WSDL)

UN/CEFACT schema v12B

Exchange protocol is Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP) over HTTPS

Retrieving messages from the hub will be through a push or pull method.

For more details refer to the link:

18. Relevant document regarding the project

C. Relevant Standards

20. Electronic message standard
20A. Electronic message standard supporting the project
20B. Type of standard for electronic message applied for the project
International standard
21. Technical communication standard
21A. Technical communication standard supporting the project
21B. Type of technical communication standard applied for the project
22. Security-related standards*
22A. Security-related standard supporting the project
22B. Type of security-related standard applied for the project
23. Other Technical Information
23A. Interface developed for data exchange with an internal system
23B. Other technical implementation information