Parallel trade

Parallel trade enables the circulation of authorised plant protection products within the European Union. A plant protection product which is authorised in another EU Member State can be placed on the market in Belgium, with a permit. In order to prevent unacceptable risks to public health, animals and plants, and the environment, a plant protection product is only authorised for parallel trade if it is identical to a product which is already authorised in Belgium.

Requirements for parallel trade

The requirements for a permit for parallel trade are laid down in article 52 of European Regulation (EC) No. 1107/2009.

The criteria which are used to assess the identity of a plant protection product are summarised here for information purposes:

  1. The product to be imported and the reference product (= product authorised in Belgium) are identical in terms of 
    • identity and content of active substance(s), protective substance(s) and synergist(s)
    • producer
    • type of formulation (e.g. SL, WG, etc.)
    • target market (professional or non-professional use)
  2. The products are identical or equivalent in terms of 
    • nature and content of co-formulants
    • packaging (type, size and shape)

For products for non-professional (amateur) use there are a number of additional requirements for the packaging and the measuring cup (see checklist for products for amateur use, annex 9 to our guide).

The criteria are described in detail in the European guidance document. This document clarifies the implementation of article 52 of Regulation (EC) No. 1107/2009.

Applying for a permit for parallel trade

Follow this procedure to obtain a permit for parallel trade:

  • Complete the application form and email it with the label proposal for the product to our service (paralleltrade@health.fgov.be)
  • You will receive an invoice for the administrative procedure which also serves as an acknowledgement of receipt.
  • For products for non-professional use, the packaging must be sent by post to our service (see contact details). This packaging will be evaluated by an efficacy expert, after which the Approval Committee of pesticides for agricultural use will issue an advisory opinion.
  • The identity of the plant protection products in question will be assessed by means of a technical evaluation.
    • You will receive the official permit if the products are considered to be identical (and a positive opinion of the Approval Committee was given for a product for non-professional use). The expiry date of the permit will be assimilated to the expiry date of the reference product in Belgium.
    • You will receive a registered letter with the reasons for the refusal if the products are considered not to be identical or if the packaging of a product for non-professional use didn’t comply with the national requirements.
  • Contrary to the rules concerning the trade name of a plant protection product (see guide, section 3.2), a parallel product may have an identical trade name to the reference product in Belgium. All other rules still apply.

For more detailed information on the evaluation procedure and the criteria used during a technical evaluation, please refer to the European guidance document.

Applying for a prolongation of a permit for parallel trade

Follow this procedure to obtain a prolongation of a permit for parallel trade:

  • Complete the application form for prolongation and email it with the label proposal for the product to our service (paralleltrade@health.fgov.be), at least 45 days before the expiry date of the permit (or as soon as the reference product has been prolonged).
  • If there is less than 2 years between the last technical evaluation of the permit and the current expiry date of the permit:
    • You will receive by email the confirmation of receipt of the administrative prolongation request.
    • You will receive the new official permit with an adapted period of validity.
  • If there is more than 2 years between the last technical evaluation of the permit and the current expiry date of the permit:
    • You will receive an invoice for the administrative procedure which also serves as an acknowledgement of receipt.
    • The identity of the plant protection products in question will be assessed by means of a technical evaluation.
      • You will receive the new official permit if the products are still considered to be identical. The expiry date of the permit is again assimilated to the expiry date of the reference product in Belgium.
      • You will receive a registered letter with the reasons for the refusal, if the products are no longer considered to be identical, and a new official permit with the modified period of validity, granting grace periods for the disposal of the remaining stocks if there is no unacceptable risk to public health or the environment:
        • Placing on the market and storage of the product by the permit holder is still possible until the original expiry date of the permit.
        • Placing on the market and storage by third parties is still possible up to a maximum of 6 months after the original expiry date of the permit.
        • Use is still possible up to a maximum of 18 months after the original expiry date of the permit.
        • These grace periods are also communicated in a press release.  
  • If the permit expires while the evaluation procedure is ongoing, the product cannot be imported until the permit is renewed.

Voluntary withdrawal of a permit for parallel trade

You can voluntarily withdraw a valid parallel trade permit at any time. In order to dispose of stocks available on the market, grace periods for sales by third parties and for use may be imposed.

Follow this procedure for voluntary withdrawal of an authorisation:

  • Notify our service of your request for withdrawal by e-mail (paralleltrade@health.fgov.be), specifying the required grace periods.
  • Depending on the stocks available, the withdrawal will take place via different procedures:
    1. If there are no more remaining stocks of the product, you will receive a letter confirming the withdrawal of the authorisation.
    2. If you wish to have grace periods within the current period of validity of the authorisation, whereby the expiry date of the authorisation does not change, you will receive a letter confirming the grace periods.
    3. If you wish to have periods of grace within the current period of validity of the permit, whereby the period of validity of the permit is shortened, you will receive a letter and the new permit with an adjusted period of validity confirming the periods of grace.
    4. If you would like periods of grace that exceed the current period of validity of the permit, you will receive an invoice confirming the application. After payment, you will receive a letter confirming the grace periods and the new permit with an adjusted period of validity.
  • In all cases, the withdrawal date and grace periods are communicated by means of a press release and added to the list of " délais pour utilisation de stocks " on Phytoweb. After this, the period of validity of the permit can no longer be modified.

Inspections of parallel trade

It is possible to import authorised plant protection products from the date indicated on the permit. The permit also has an expiry date after which imports are no longer possible.

Follow this procedure to notify of an import:

  • Notify all imports of plant protection products by completing the form in the authorisation certificate.
  • Send this form within 48 hours after import by email to our service (paralleltrade@health.fgov.be).
  • Retain a product in its original packaging with the original label for the purposes of an inspection. In addition, retain a second sample of packaging as it is placed in the market in Belgium (if it is repackaged). These packaging must be kept at the first place of import into Belgium for up to 2 months after the date of import.

The inspection of imported products will be carried out by the FASFC (Federal Agency for the Safety of the Food Chain).