Certificate of Free Sale
The Illinois Department of Public Health issues Certificates of Free Sale to Illinois Food and Dairy Manufacturers, Processors, Warehousers and Packers and other facilities which the Division of Food, Drugs and Dairies inspects, permits or surveys.
Certificate of Free Sale Q & A
Certificate Titles Provided By IDPH
Q: Can IDPH provide a Certificate of Health, Certificate of Origin or a Certificate of Sanitation?
No. The Department only issues Certificates of Free Sale documents. “Certificate of Free Sale” is the only title the Department will issue. (Section 720.20)
Eligibility Requirements for Certificates of Free Sale
Q: We are a manufacturer of vitamin and dietary supplements. Can we apply for a Certificate of Free Sale through your department?
No. The Department only issues Certificates of Free Sale to food and dairy firms that are inspected by the Illinois Department of Public Health. (Section 720.20)
Q: As long as the product is warehoused and sold in Illinois, can a Certificate of Free Sale be issued? Is ownership of the warehouse by the manufacturer a component of review?
A Certificate of Free Sale can be issued as long as the product is food or dairy, and is warehoused, processed or manufactured by a firm the Department inspects, and is freely available in Illinois. The warehouse could be a third party location and does not have to be owned by the firm who processed the food. (Section 720.20)
Q: Do animal feed products fall under the “food” category in the state of Illinois?
Our guidelines allow us to issue Certificates of Free Sale for food from facilities the Department inspects. By definition, animal feed does fall under food however our Department does not inspect those facilities.
Q: Does your department still issue Certificates of Free Sale for health and beauty aids?
No. Certificates of Free Sale are only provided to firms that are inspected by the Department. Medical devices, cosmetics, fertilizers, soaps, and supplements are not inspected by our Department; therefore we no longer provide certificates for those products. (Section 720.20) (720.35(a)(2))
Q: I am an Illinois business owner and doing food export. I buy general food such as candies, cookies, soft drinks and snacks from a warehouse based in another state, although the products are manufactured across the United States. Am I still able to obtain a Certificate of Free Sale from your department?
No. The Department would not inspect a warehouse in another state therefore we cannot issue a Certificate of Free Sale. (Section 720.20)
Q: We are an out of state firm that has a make our products. The co-packer is inspected by IDPH but we are not. Can we have a Certificate of Free Sale with our name on the certificate?
Yes. We would require an association letter from the co-packer stating that they manufacture your products and then you could request a Certificate of Free Sale with your firm name on it and the co-packer’s inspected address. This letter must be on their letterhead and contain contact information so the Dept. may verify the association. Please see Example Association Letter on this page under “Forms” at the top right.
IDPH Issued ID Number
Q: Can we find our Illinois state identification number on the IDPH website?
No. The ID number can be found on the firm’s last inspection report form conducted by the Department. If you do not have the inspection form, you may contact us and we can provide it.
Q: On the application, the applicant is to provide the Illinois State ID number. Do we need our plant inspected by the Department to acquire an ID number?
Yes. An inspection is required for both an ID and to be eligible for the Certificates of Free Sale.
Processing Time Frame
Q: Is there a way to expedite the Certificate of Free Sale process?
No. The Department processes requests . The process time within the office is based on work load and staff resources. The mailing method used is in the control of the requestor. Using an EXPRESS mail method with tracking can speed up the submission and return.
Q: How long will it take to receive my completed Certificate of Free Sale?
The Department is estimating a two week time frame . The time frame for processing a Certificate of Free Sale request is based on the Department’s work load and staff resources. Requests that are not complete or correct will also cause a delay in processing. If additional documents are required from the Secretary of State then additional time will be required for their process.
Certificate of Free Sale Template Versions
Q: How many template versions are there to choose from?
The Department has two versions to choose from and either may be processed in English or Spanish.
Q: What are the main differences between the template versions?
The short version is acceptable by most countries and is easier for the firm to request since it does not require prior knowledge by the requestor of the shipment details. Firms may request these in bulk and use as needed.
The long version with the attestation box is required by some locations with very strict import guidelines such as Dubai or UAE. It is up to the requestor to know what the countries they ship to require. This form requires prior processing and work by the requestor before sending to IDPH. The requestor must have a specific shipment they are requesting the form for and cannot order these in bulk to have around as needed. The invoice/PO/tracking number must be known to request this version. The template attestation box must contain the indicated number, signature, name of firm representative and date or the Dept. cannot process the form.
Q: What address do we provide on the Certificate of Free Sale Template?
The physical address (street address and city) of the inspected location must be provided on the certificate. The headquarters address is not to be placed on the certificate unless inspections of processing also occur at that location. (Section 720.35 (a)(3))
Q: Some countries need the quantity and shelf life extension information on the Certificate of Free Sale. Can we add this information to the certificate or do we need to send a separate sheet with that information?
The Department cannot certify expiration dates, shelf life, lot numbers, etc. therefore shall not be placed on the certificate. By using the long version template with the attestation box the firm may certify those details by identifying the invoice/PO/tracking form number and attach it before presenting it to the customer. (Section 720.35 (b)(1))
Q: Do we need to send product information with the Certificate of Free Sale request?
No. Since we only issue Certificates of Free Sale to firms the Department inspects, we can obtain that information during inspections or investigations. (Section 720.35(b)(1))
Q: If we request multiple certificates, do we need to issue a separate check or money order for each certificate or can we issue a check or money order with the entire amount for the request?
One check or money order for the entire request total is accepted and preferred.
Q: If I need a Certificate of Free Sale, can I submit the request form and certificate via email for processing and send the payment via mail the same day?
No. Complete requests must come to the Department via mail with all the required documentation.
Q: What happens if I send a Certificate of Free Sale Request and there is a problem with the request?
If your Certificate of Free Sale request is inaccurate or incomplete, it will be returned along with a letter stating what needs corrected prior to processing. If it is a simple correction, the free sale staff will have the option of requesting the information via email. This option is left to the discretion of the staff due to the high volume of requests.
Product Listing On Certificates
Q: Each certificate of free sale may contain a maximum of five products. If a shipment contains more than five product names, do we order multiple certificates?
Yes. If you have more than five products, you must request additional certificates to list the additional products. We no longer accept a product attachment sheet on plain paper. (Section 720.35 (b)(4))
Q: If we need to list over five items, do we need to request multiple Certificates of Free Sale?
Yes. A single certificate can only contain five products. If you have more than five products, additional certificate templates would need to be submitted. Each template requires a fee of $10.00. The product names can be specific or general. (Section 720.35 (b)(4))
Q: Since only five items can be listed on one Certificate of Free Sale, can we provide an attached product listing?
No. If you have more than five products, additional certificates must be requested. The Department no longer accepts product attachment sheet on plain paper. (Section 720.35 (b)(4))
Q: Can product descriptions be generic like “Pizzas,” or do we need the item code, sizes and flavors?
“Pizzas” are acceptable. Verify with your customer to make sure that is acceptable with them.
Certificate of Free Sale Language Options
Q: Does the Department issue Certificates of Free Sale in any other languages?
The Department can issue the English and Spanish versions for use to the industry. If any other language is needed it shall be requested through the Department and a translator of the Department’s choice will be used. The firm will be required to reimburse the Department for the cost of the translator. (Section 720.35(b)(2))
Other Export Document Resources
Q: Are there any other offices that issue Certificates of Free Sale?
The United States Food and Drug Administration, the United States Department of Agriculture, the Illinois Department of Agriculture, and the Illinois Chamber of Commerce are just a few agencies that issue Export Documents. The exact titles as well as their requirements for requesting would need to be received from them.
Miscellaneous Q & A
Q: Our company consolidates a number of brands by the same manufacturer in one shipment. Is the product listing limited by manufacturer and not by brand?
Yes. Only one firm is listed per certificate. Multiple “brands” may be listed.
Q: If my completed Certificate of Free Sale gets lost in the mail, can I request a replacement free of charge?
No. If your request gets lost, it must be resubmitted with all of the required documentation including fee. Our Department encourages companies to use a return tracking method for all their requests.
Q: If I need a Certificate of Free Sale that is exactly like one I previously submitted, can I request it without sending in another certificate?
No. Each new Certificate of Free Sale request needs to be mailed to the Department with all the required documentation. Our department does not keep copies of previously completed Certificates of Free Sale for reissuance.