Animal Inspections at Customs Support subsidiary Freshport
Customs is at the heart of our organization, but we also have subsidiaries that take care of other very important and special steps in import and export processes. I work at one of these subsidiaries: Freshport.
From Perishables to Hammerhead Sharks
Freshport is located at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. The facility is an external border inspection post, at the airside of the Airport. It is specially designed and equipped to facilitate inspections of perishables and animals that arrive at the airport for import into the Netherlands. The inspections are carried out by the NVWA (Netherlands Foods and Consumer Products Safety Authority).
We work with forwarders that ship perishables and animals to the Netherlands on behalf of their customers. When the shipment arrives at Schiphol Airport it arrives at our facility and based on what type of goods arrive, perishables or animals, they are kept in their own stores in the warehouse with conditions suitable for the products. There are, for instance, cold storage units with various temperature zones to store perishables.
There are multiple major product flows that are handled by Freshport:
- Perishables for human consumption, like fish or meat
- Perishables not for human consumption, like vaccines or bull semen
- Vegetables and flowers
- Live animals, mainly ornamental fish and reptiles
Especially with live animals, we know how important it is that they reach their final destination on time. They are properly packaged for transport and handled with care, but the faster they get to their final destination the faster they can be taken out of their packaging.
State of the Art Facility
The increasing regulation of European Veterinarian Authorities, including HACCP regulations, require optimal standards in facilities and processes. The Freshport facility is state-of-the-art, complying to the latest regulations.
The same goes for our IT systems. The more digitalized our processes are, the smoother they go. Less manual data entry means fewer errors and more time for value-add services.
How We Work
At first, customers send an application to us for an inspection at our facility. In their name, we request an inspection with the veterinarian authorities. We request the handler of the shipment to deliver the shipment to our facility. We inform the customer of the date and time of inspection. If the customer’s shipment passes the inspection they can pick up their shipment at our facility.
Stories From the Floor
People often ask me what the most interesting animals are that pass through our facility. So many interesting shipments pass through our facility every day. One of the most impressive was a shipment of eight hammerhead sharks. They were in huge basins that fit exactly in the back of a trailer. We don’t see those every week. Most of the time ornamental fish is passing through. We see a lot of snakes and other reptiles as well. Always good to see them packaged safely and securely according to strict IATA regulations. The same goes for tarantulas. They usually come in plexiglass boxes. The first time you see them from up close and personal is quite scary.
Once in a while, we receive a very special shipment. One of my favourites was a shipment of sloths. We got a call from a handler that was unexpectedly confronted with a shipment of sloths, asking us for our help and advice. At that time none of the other facilities at the airport had the right permit to facilitate inspection of sloths.
We worked closely with the veterinarian authorities to enable this inspection. We set up a bespoke process and were awarded a temporary one time permit to facilitate the inspection.
Every shipment at Freshport is handled with care, especially the shipments with live animals. We take care of the process and make sure the handling time is as short as possible. However, beautiful or impressive the animals are that pass through our facility, the shorter they are with us, the better we like it. We want them to reach their final destination as fast as possible so they can swim in freshwater, or get fresh air and enough space to move.