Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures

What are sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures? 


SPS measures consist of laws, decrees, regulations, requirements, and procedures that countries adopt to protect human, animal, or plant life or health against certain risks. These measures generally aim to promote food safety and protect against potential risks from cross-border spread of contaminants, diseases, and pests affecting animals and plants.


Examples of SPS measures include:

  • Requirements for products to come from disease-free areas;
  • specific treatment or processing of products;
  • thresholds for pesticide residues;
  • use of certain additives in food.


SPS measures apply to domestic foods, local animals, and plants, as well as foreign products. For more information, see the link below to the World Trade Organization document on Understanding the WTO Agreement on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures.


What are the types of SPS measures that can apply to imports? 


SPS measures include six broad categories:

  • prohibitions or restrictions of imports;
  • limits for residues and restricted use of certain substances;
  • labelling, marking, and packaging requirements related to food safety;
  • hygienic requirements related to sanitary and phytosanitary conditions;
  • treatment for elimination of plant and animal pests and disease-causing organisms in the final product or prohibition of treatment;
  • other requirements relating to production or postproduction processes.


In addition, SPS measures cover procedures to verify that products meet SPS requirements. For a more comprehensive list of SPS measures, see the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development’s (UNCTAD) International Classification of Non-Tariff Measures.


How do I find information about the SPS measures that may apply to my products?


The exporter, or seller, is responsible for complying with all SPS requirements that apply in the country of import. Local trade agencies, industry associations, and chambers of commerce may offer resources such as newsletters, events, and online platforms for businesses to learn about SPS measures.


  • ePing: To stay informed of new and updated SPS requirements, businesses can register on ePing, an online initiative developed by the United Nations, the World Trade Organization (WTO), and the International Trade Centre (ITC). Through ePing alerts, businesses can receive notifications of new SPS requirements relevant to their products and target markets, and also identify existing measures in their database.
  • Global Trade Helpdesk: This provides an overview of product requirements for importers or exporters targeting foreign markets.
  • Market Access Map: This displays specific SPS measures applicable to products that businesses may seek to import from targeted markets.
  • Trade Analysis Information System (TRAINS): This presents an outlook of existing SPS measures worldwide and multiple features of non-tariff measures reported by 160 countries.
  • World Integrated Trade Solution (WITS): This offers country profiles on SPS regulatory indicators, organized by product sectors.


Links to Supporting Information


The World Trade Organization Document on Understanding the WTO Agreement on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures  WTO | Understanding the Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures Agreement


The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development’s (UNCTAD) International Classification of Non-Tariff Measures International Classification of Non-tariff Measures – 2019 edition


ePing  Home – ePing SPS&TBT platform


ITC UNCTAD WTO Global Trade Helpdesk


ITC Market Access Map




World Integrated Trade Solution (WITS) World Integrated Trade Solution (WITS) | Data on Export, Import, Tariff, NTM

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