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Movement Assistance Scheme

Defra has extended the Movement Assistance Scheme (MAS) to the end of December 2023, to further support traders and businesses in meeting new requirements of the NI Protocol, for moving certain agri-food products from Great Britain (GB) to Northern Ireland (NI).

Products covered under the scheme include but are not limited to:

 The scheme provides advice to businesses through a helpline and provides financial support by reimbursing some certification costs associated with the new requirements.

From 1 July 2021, MAS will offer support with the costs related to testing sheep for scrapie disease, as required as part of the export health certification.

From 27 September 2021, where Support Attestations (SAs) are clearly required to provide assurance for a CO (either an APHA authorised Official Veterinarian (OV) or Food Competent Certifying Officer (FCCO)) to issue an Export Health Certificate (EHC), the costs for producing the attestations will be reimbursable up to a set amount, directly through MAS.  

The scheme will cover costs up to £150 (excluding VAT) for each GB-NI declared SA obtained and used for trade from GB-NI only. These caps cover the cost of inspecting and certifying goods. 

Traders will need to pay the invoice from the veterinarian or FCCO who issued the SA and then send the invoice and other required evidence to the government to be reimbursed for the costs of the service.

The scheme also covers movements to NI via Ireland.

The scheme will close in December 2023.

Certifiers: get help with costs

Certifiers of agri-foods moving from GB-NI that require certification can receive financial support for some of the direct costs of checking and issuing certain certificates.

They include:

  • Certificates of Inspection (COIs)
  • Export Health Certificates (EHCs)
  • Official Certificates (From 1 April 2021)
  • Phytosanitary Certificates (PCs)
  • Plant Health Exports Audited Trader Scheme (PHEATS)

If you are an official veterinarian or other certifier, you must not charge for inspecting and certifying certain certification costs - up to a certain amount. You need to invoice the Government for the costs of the service you provide.

There is no requirement for certifiers to engage with MAS if the agri-food goods moving from GB to NI are not subject to the new NI Protocol requirements.

Certifiers of Export Health Certificates (EHCs)

Movements of live animals and animal products from GB to NI may require an EHC. Businesses and traders will not incur a cost for an EHC - up to a set amount. This will be reimbursed directly to certifiers by the Government through the Movement Assistance Scheme (MAS).

You must be registered with EHC Online to be eligible for support via MAS. If you already have an EHC Online account you do not need to register again, your current registration remains valid.

What you need to do

  • Register on EHC Online if you have not already done so.
  • You’ll be notified of new certification requests on EHC Online.
  • After your first request you’ll be contacted by APHA with details of how to receive payment.
  • You’ll then be provided with a Purchase Order (PO) number via email, which can be used when raising invoices.
  • If you have issues getting set up, please email ServiceDeliveryVetandExportInvoices@apha.gov.uk.
  • Follow the current inspection process to perform an EHC check.
  • If the goods pass inspection you can sign the certificate as you do now.
  • You’ll need to log into EHC Online after the inspection to confirm the checks have been completed, and the details in EHC Online are in line with the certification you’ve provided on the EHC.

Reimbursement information

The steps required for reimbursement of certification costs for live animals and animal products are as follows:

  • Determine whether the trader’s goods require an EHC.
  • If so, the trader applies online using the EHC Online portal for an OV or other certifier to inspect their goods. Note that EHCs must state NI as the final destination before they can be reimbursed.
  • The trader and OV/other certifier arrange an appointment for the necessary checks and, if appropriate, the certifier provides the EHC. Remember that all EHCs issued through MAS must have NI as the end destination, as onward movement is not permitted if EHCs are to be successfully reimbursed. Note that movements from GB to NI through the Republic of Ireland are also covered by MAS. Where animals or products of animal origin have an end destination other than NI, OVs should charge the trader for the EHC.
  • The OV/other certifier invoices the certification costs to the Government directly. The trader incurs no direct cost.
  • You can claim:
    • up to £150 excluding VAT for each non-equine EHC.
    • up to £500 excluding VAT for each equine EHC.

You can include time you spend on travel on your invoice, based on your charge out rates.

You can invoice the trader for the remaining amount should the total cost exceed these limits.

You can also claim:

  • up to £150 excluding VAT for the costs related to testing sheep for scrapie disease, as required as part of the export health certification.

How to submit an invoice

From 1 November 2021, you must invoice within 90 days of the completion of the work, which is classed as the date of the movement of live animals or products of animal origin. This is to help ensure EHC reimbursements aren’t unduly delayed, and to improve scheme turnaround times. However, for work completed before 1 November 2021, OVs will have until 31 January 2022 to submit their invoice.

Invoices should be submitted on a regular basis (weekly ideally or monthly) and should include all EHCs where certification checks have been completed. To ensure payments are made promptly, include all the information on this list below. Note that payments cannot be made until you include all of the necessary information on an invoice.

Use a separate line for each transaction per Official Veterinarian with the following detail:

  • Cost of checks based on existing fees - time spent x charge out rate/hour. This figure is often omitted by mistake.
  • From 1 April 2021, travel time spent based on charge out rate. Travel time can only be claimed for if it is not already included in your existing charge out rates. You should only invoice for time spent on the NI EHCs. This figure is often omitted by mistake.
  • Date of certification completion. This should match the date in EHC Online.
  • Certifier ID.
  • EHC serial number.
  • VAT (at the appropriate rate) should be shown separately on the invoice as a separate charge.

The invoice must also include:

  • Unique invoice number.
  • Practice details, registered trading name, address on letterhead and VAT registration number.
  • PO number, as supplied by APHA team.

Important

Before submitting, PDF all invoices and include all EHC checks which have been completed.

Remember – you should not include any other Official Veterinarian tasks in these invoices.

Send your invoices by email to ServiceDeliveryVetandExportInvoices@apha.gov.uk.

Sample invoices are available in the following documents:

Certifiers of High-Risk Foods and Feed of Non-Animal Origin

From 1 April 2021, certifiers of certain high-risk foods of non-animal origin (HRFNAO) products listed in Annex 2 of regulation 2019/1793 and products originating from countries listed in Annex 1 of regulation 2020/1158, must invoice the Government for Official Certification costs.

Reimbursement information

The steps required for reimbursement of the HRFNAO products listed above are as follows:

  • You (Local Authority) receive a request from a trader to inspect HRFNAO products. You should conduct that assessment as usual.
  • When the request is received, you should, for first time only:
    • Contact APHA to notify them and check to see if you have been set up as a supplier for payment at ServiceDeliveryVetandExportInvoices@apha.gov.uk.
    • You must supply APHA with evidence that you have received an application from a trader to move HRFNAO to NI.
    • You’ll then be provided with a unique PO number via email, which must be used when raising invoices.
  • Follow the current inspection process to perform checks on the HRFNAO products.
  • If the goods pass inspection you can sign the certificate as you do now.

How to submit an invoice

  • Each month you should generate an invoice and submit a PDF version to APHA at: ServiceDeliveryVetandExportInvoices@apha.gov.uk.
  • To ensure payments are made promptly, include all the following information:
    • PO number.
    • Official certificate unique reference number.
    • Copy of the certificate - including date processed and destination of goods.
    • Breakdown of costs - charge out rates, time spent on travel and lab costs.
    • Receipt or evidence of lab sampling costs (including a copy of the invoice if not in-house lab costs).
  • The invoice/s will be processed by APHA and checks carried out. Any clarifications will be sent back to you via email if required.

Payment queries

Queries regarding the payment of invoices or  PO number should be raised with APHA on: ServiceDeliveryVetandExportInvoices@apha.gov.uk  
+44 (0)20 80265644.

Queries relating to invoices for organic products should be raised with Defra on:
organic.standards@defra.gov.uk.

The MAS contact helpline is not able to answer any queries about reimbursement of certifier costs. Instead, please find detail below:

Further information

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Sam OV support

For queries about using Sam or the initial registration process please contact the Sam support desk on:

03300 416999
Email Sam support desk