Pest control certificates – overview of current legislation

Ships calling at ports on the Parana river are increasingly being asked to submit a pest control certificate to the Health Authority. Failure to comply with this request could require the ship to be fumigated. This update examines the current legislation in this regard.


According to Article 8 of Act 11,843/1934, cabotage and foreign flag vessels that operate in Argentine ports must be fumigated regularly and comply with measures to prevent the spread of rodents while at berth or in contact with other vessels. Article 8 was further addressed by Article 35 of Decree-Law 92,767/1936, which posits that foreign flag vessels must be fumigated where:

  • there is insufficient proof that they have been fumigated before a competent authority; or
  • they have been exempted from such operation in the past six months and have obtained a certificate from port health authorities officially authorised for this purpose.

Vessels whose deratisation certificate or exemption has expired, or that have no supporting document, will be fumigated, except where they:

  • make a request for a month’s extension to the vessel’s port of armament, registration or nationality; or
  • ask for an exemption after carrying out an investigation and a sanitary inspection that finds no rats on board and taking the adequate preventative measures in that regard.

Regulation 74 E/2016 established the compulsory development of a cleaning and disinfection programme for all types of international passenger transport – including aircraft or vessels with a capacity greater than 14 seats entering or leaving national territory.

The regulation was introduced following an increase in cruise ships calling at Argentine ports. However, reports suggest that the San Lorenzo and Rosario health authorities have applied Regulation 74 E/2016 to force the fumigation of all cargo ships. This resulted in the Ministry of Health officially clarifying in February 2017 that Regulation 74 does not refer to cargo ships and that fumigation is beyond the regulation’s scope.


The attempt to force ships to submit pest control certificates has caused uncertainty for operators. The situation is comparable to the Health Authority’s failed attempt to request the chlorination of ballast water tanks (for further details please see “Ballast water saga: regulation requiring chlorination causes confusion“).

The World Health Organisation’s International Health Regulations 2005 are fully applicable in Argentina. As a result, the documents required include:

  • an on-board health certificate;
  • a maritime declaration of health;
  • a list of ports visited in the past 30 days;
  • a crew and passenger list; and
  • a copy of the vessel’s medical record book.

As noted above, fumigation can be avoided if a ship can prove that it has been fumigated by a competent authority or if it has been exempted from such operation in the past six months and obtained a certificate from the health authorities of a port officially authorised for this purpose.