Importing and exporting organic food from 1 January 2021

Guide

Last updated 25 March 2021

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 January 2022.

From 1 January 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.

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 until 1 October 2021.

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

These trade arrangements continue as they have done before. Check with your control body what product categories can be imported and exported.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) will contact importers and food manufacturers if any trade agreements change.

Different exporting rules may apply if equivalency is not agreed between the UK and non-EU countries. Contact the exporting control body in the country you’re importing food from. Defra will publish any changes in this guide.

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.

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.

If you need help

Contact your organic control body if you have any queries.


First published 4 February 2020