Simplify your customs process with Cotecna

 When exporting worldwide, especially outside Europe, companies can often find themselves bogged down in a minefield of paperwork, tariffs and export codes. Luckily, there are companies out there that can help simplify the process, and the Cotecna Group is one of the industry’s best known and most respected. Cotecna offers Testing, Inspection and Certification (TIC) services including Verification Of Conformity (VOC) and Customs trade solutions, including destination inspection, cargo tracking and scanner integration projects. ITM’s Editor, Chris Beck, spoke with the company’s UK Director, Gary Fogg, to find out more.

History & Services

Tell us about Cotecna

The Cotecna Group was founded in Switzerland in 1974 by Elie-Georges Massey and remains a family-owned business today positioned within the TIC (Testing, Inspection and Certification) industry. The Group’s international network comprises of over 100 offices in more than 60 countries, with a workforce of close to 4,000 employees and agents. Cotecna combines the professionalism, reliability, infrastructure and expertise of a long-established world-class player, with the flexibility and proximity of a smaller sized company.

Cotecna Group is well placed in the market to provide government and commercial services in Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America. The Group is expanding its activities in all key markets, including Central and Southeast Asia, Central America and Eastern Europe. With its proven capacity to deliver solutions to clients, Cotecna is well positioned to take advantage of future opportunities to expand through organic growth and acquisitions.

Based in London, the UK office has been in existence for over 30 years. We are a tight-knit team that offers the best possible customer service from our long serving professional staff. We pride ourselves on providing tailor-made services, guiding our clients through the certification process.

Tell us about a key service operated by your office in the UK

We offer Verification Of Conformity (VOC) services. These programmes, which are also referred to as Conformity Assessment, are compulsory mechanisms imposed by various Governments. VOC involves checking the goods and documentation in order to ensure they meet the required quality and safety standards of the importing country.

Thanks to our network of offices, inspectors and accreditations, Cotecna performs a combination of physical inspection, collection of samples for laboratory testing, and documentary checks. If product conformity is established, Cotecna issues a Certificate of Conformity recognized in the importing country. This certificate prevents the shipment from being rejected or delayed allowing importers to clear their goods efficiently thereby aiding trade facilitation.

Cotecna assesses conformity for an increasing number of destination countries such as Nigeria, Iraq including the Kurdistan Region, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Ethiopia and Algeria. Page 30 includes a more detailed look at the Nigeria SONCAP programme. Our dedicated team is here to guide our clients step by step throughout the conformity process, offering technical assistance at all stages. Our Clients’ often commend us for being able to deliver the fastest possible quality service and thank us for fully meeting their expectations.

Do you also offer non-Governmental services?

Amongst other services, we started offering CTCS (Customs Tariff Clarification Service) approximately three years ago. Tariff Classification has been a standard part of our work performed on behalf of Governments for over 30 years and we recognised many Exporters / Importers / Freight Forwarders had a need for this outside of those Government contracts. We use our team of in-house experts to provide Tariff / HS code classifications to the International trade community to minimise the financial risk of penalties levied and avoid costly delays in the process due to mis-declaration.

We are aware of the increasing pressures felt amongst traders and their agents who are keen to avoid the large fines charged by some government bodies – our service is designed to minimise this exposure. To support this work, our team of analysts have successfully completed World Customs Organisation (WCO) training and have a wealth of product knowledge and experience. We find a lot of our clients ask for this service very early on in the Export process, thereby minimising the risk of delays due to incorrect or unknown coding.

What are the advantages of using the services Cotecna offer?

The services we offer are aimed at helping to create a smooth flow through the supply chain. Our clients’ look to us to guide them through complicated Standards and to resolve their issues in relation to complex processes. We provide a highly professional prompt service; the core of which is underpinned by industry expertise with a keen eye for detail.

How does what you do differ from country to country?

The services we offer generally relate to the movement of goods across borders. This means we must ensure our awareness of the specifics of those countries and apply them in our day to day work. This can be a minefield for the trading community and this is where Cotecna is able to allay the concerns of our clients. Where required, we will provide tailor-made services which in the case of Governmental contracts can mean we offer a level of service beyond the mandated level.

How do you see the market as a whole changing in the next five or so years and is Cotecna ready for those changes?

The import / export market is growing, and this is accelerating as the world economy is coming out of recession. This is bringing positivity into the markets, even if it’s not necessarily being felt across the whole of Europe at this time.

In terms of legislation, it is clear there will be more and more rules put in place and, through our expertise, Cotecna is already well placed to service many elements of the supply chain supporting clients to move their own goods across borders, or achieving the same for their agents. We will continue to review and adapt our services to meet the ever changing needs of the supply chain thereby ensuring we continue to fully serve our clients in regard to those future challenges.

 

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Focus on: Federal Republic of Nigeria SONCAP Programme

Cotecna is appointed by the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), to perform the verification of conformity of imported goods as part of the revised Standards Organisation of Nigeria Conformity Assessment Programme (SONCAP).

The objective of this programme is to protect the health and safety of Nigerian consumers. The scope of the programme is:

Documentation verification
Testing of samples in exporting country
Physical inspection of shipment in exporting country
Verification of Conformity services

Cotecna provides services to ensure consignments comply with the Nigerian standards. Services include :

Guiding the exporter throughout the entire certification process
Conformity assessment in the exporting country including inspection and testing in accredited laboratories
Issuance of Product Certificates / SONCAP Certificate (SC)

Certification process

To assess the conformity of products and obtain a SC, SON has defined three levels of compliance called “Routes”. In order to clear their goods in Nigeria importers need to have, for every consignment of regulated products, a SC issued by Cotecna to present to the Nigerian Customs. The SC can be obtained by exporters in the Country of Supply using one of the three levels of Compliance shown below of which Cotecna will advise the most applicable Route:

Route A: Unregistered/Unlicensed products
This Route is advised for infrequent exporters.

Route B: Registered Products
For exporters that have demonstrated an acceptable level of compliance during shipment verification in Route A and/or make regular shipments to Nigeria.

Route C: Licensed products
For manufacturers/producers that make regular shipments to Nigeria and/or those who have demonstrated an excellent level of compliance under Route B.

For detailed information, please visit: www.exports-to-nigeria.com

Efficiency

Cotecna helps you through the entire conformity assessment process. We provide innovative solutions and tailor-made services, with efficient turnaround times, allowing your product to reach the market faster. We also assess conformity for other destinations such as Iraq & Kurdistan Region, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Ethiopia and Algeria.

For more information please contact us:

Cotecna Inspection Ltd, 4th Floor, One Lampton Road, Hounslow, Middlesex, TW3 1JB, T: +44 (0) 20 8277 7700, F: +44 (0) 20 8277 7801, E: voc@cotecna.co.uk, W: www.cotecna.co.uk

Cotecna Inspection S.A. 58, Rue de la Terrassière, CH, 1211 Geneva 6, Switzerland, T: +41 22 849 69 90, F: +41 22 849 69 89, E: meriam.benayed@cotecna.ch, W: www.cotecna.com