Importing and exporting organic food

Guide

Last updated 11 July 2022

Import controls on EU goods to Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales) that have already been introduced remain in place. This page will be updated in autumn 2022 with new dates for import controls.

Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales) recognises the EU, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland as equivalent for the purpose of trade in organics until 31 December 2023.

Food and feed certified as organic in the EU, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein will continue to be accepted as organic in GB until 31 December 2023.

The EU has recognised the UK for the purpose of exporting organic products to the EU until 31 December 2023.

Food and feed certified as organic in GB will continue to be accepted as organic in the EU until 31 December 2023.

Importing organic food from the EU, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland to GB

As a temporary measure, organic products imported from the EU, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland to GB will not require a certificate of inspection (COI) until 1 July 2022.

From 1 July 2022, organic products imported from the EU, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland to GB will require a COI. You'll use the interim manual GB organic import system.

To request the forms for the manual GB organic import system, contact your organic control body.

Moving organic food from Northern Ireland (NI) to GB

There is no change to the movement of organic goods from NI to GB.

You do not need a COI if you're moving goods from NI to GB.

Importing organic food from non-EU countries to GB

All organic goods imported from non-EU countries must have a valid COI.

You'll need to use an interim manual GB organic import system to import organic food and feed into GB.

To request the forms for the manual UK organic import system, contact your organic control body.

Certifying organic food in countries outside the UK for export to Great Britain

Control bodies and control authorities can apply for recognition in countries outside the UK for export to Great Britain.

Applying for recognition means that a control body or control authority:

  • is recognised as certifying organic food to equivalent Great Britain organic standards in countries outside the UK
  • can export to Great Britain without requiring additional certification for the products and countries recognised

See the list of control bodies and control authorities that are recognised in Great Britain as certifying organic food to equivalent EU organic standards.

These control bodies and control authorities must reapply for recognition to certify to an equivalent Great Britain organic standard by the end of 2022.

To apply (or reapply) for recognition, you should email UK_TC_CB_comms@defra.gov.uk and provide the following details of the control body or control authority’s:

  • full name
  • full official postal address
  • contact details for 2 people (which will be the only contacts used throughout the application process)
  • website address

Defra will email you a secure link to a folder and application form.

You’ll need to:

  1. Access the application form – this form will tell you which documents you’ll need to complete.
  2. Complete and submit the documents via a SharePoint Online site.

Defra will continue to work directly with you until your application has been accepted or declined.

Exporting organic food from GB to the EU

All organic goods exported to the EU must have a valid COI using the EU's Trade Control and Expert System New Technology (TRACES NT).

Contact your control body to:

  • approve your business on TRACES NT for exports
  • stay up to date

Moving organic food from GB to NI

Under the terms of the Northern Ireland Protocol, EU Organic Regulations apply in NI.

The movement of organic goods from GB to NI must be accompanied by a valid COI using the EU's TRACES NT. You do not need to pay for a COI as these costs are covered by the Movement Assistance Scheme.

There's an arrangement in place which allows authorised traders such as supermarkets and their trusted suppliers to move some goods without the need for official certification.

For those traders who are now authorised, the NI Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) have issued guidance on the requirements for goods movements.

Read DAERA's guidance on organic food and feed in NI.

Contact your control body to:

  • approve your business on TRACES NT for exports
  • stay up to date

Exporting organic food from the UK to non-EU countries

Some non-EU countries may require an export certificate for each consignment. You should check with the country you're exporting to.

The UK has equivalency arrangements with 13 non-EU countries:

  • Australia
  • Argentina
  • Canada
  • Chile
  • Costa Rica
  • India
  • Israel
  • Japan
  • New Zealand
  • Republic of Korea
  • Switzerland
  • Tunisia
  • United States of America

Check with your control body:

  • what product categories you can export from these countries
  • the rules for exporting your products

Importing or exporting organic food between NI and the EU

There are no changes to imports or exports of organic food between NI and the EU. Trade in organics should continue as before.

Read DAERA's guidance on organic food and feed in NI.

Importing or exporting organic food between Northern Ireland and non-EU countries

You must use TRACES NT and have an EU COI to import organic food from a non-EU country to Northern Ireland.

Read DAERA's guidance on importing and exporting organic food between Northern Ireland and non-EU countries.

Returned goods

If the goods you have exported from GB to the EU are rejected by the EU due to incorrect paperwork or failure to meet their organic goods standards, the Border Control Post (BCP) will:

  • notify you or your agent
  • ask you to confirm if the goods should be destroyed or returned to GB

You'll need to notify a Port Health Authority PHA) or your Local Authority (LA) before your goods arrive back in GB.

You'll also need to ask the PHA or LA to check the exporting documents including:

  • the original EU COI
  • export or transport documents and any commodity specific requirements
  • a declaration from the EU BCP describing the reason for refusal of entry

Selling or marketing returned goods in GB

If you want to sell or market your goods as 'organic' in GB, you'll need to complete a returned organic goods application form.

The PHA or LA will need to check your application against the original export documents to ensure that the goods listed on the application match those that were originally exported. The PHA and LA will also check that there's no reason for these goods not to be sold or marketed in GB as organic.

If you need help

Contact your organic control body if you have any queries.


First published 4 February 2020