Importers and exporters of non-EU products

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1. Become an importer of organic products

Consult the essential information to become an organic exporter here.

What is your organic activity?

You import organic products from outside the European Union. Importing organic products is based on a system of recognition of equivalence. Either the country you are importing from is recognised as an ‘equivalent country’ or the inspection body is recognised by the European Union for equivalence purposes.

What information is essential to start your business as an importer of organic products?

Imports are governed by European Regulation 1235/2008. Since 31 January 2020, as the UK is no longer part of the EU, imports from the UK are governed by Regulation 2196/2020. They specify all the applicable modalities for your activity.

Any organic product from a non-European country must always be accompanied by an eCOI – Certificate of Inspection. This is an audit certificate (batch certificate) issued via the TRACES platform for each customs clearance. This document ensures the traceability of the product and will enable it to retain its organic status during customs clearance. It is essential that you apply for your certificate and have it signed in box 18 before the goods leave the country of origin.

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The European Organic Regulation provides for additional measures for imports from countries considered risky, namely Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Russia, Moldova, China and Turkey. We have summarised them in an explanatory note.

The UK is a special case. Following Brexit, importing from this country is akin to importing from a Third Country. Therefore, your company will also have to be registered as an ‘Importer of organic products’ on TRACES NT and must mention your certification body. Your products imported from the UK will need to be accompanied by an electronic certificate of inspection (eCOI) issued in TRACES NT and signed by your UK supplier’s certification body. If you are importing UK products from an EFTA country (Switzerland, Iceland, Norway, Lichtenstein), the eCOI is not required. The annual European organic certificate remains sufficient.

More information on TRACES NT can be found in the user manual(English version).

Are you an importer in Flanders?

Are you an importer in Wallonia, Brussels or the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg? Find out your tariff.

Read a summary of the regulations applicable to your activity in our practical guide.

guide pratique proposé par CERTISYS - règlementation de l'agriculture biologique pour les producteurs

What is the procedure for your organic audit?

The organic audits carried out by a CERTISYS auditor are based on European Regulations and Regional Decrees. They include checking:

  • Your organic declaration, your registration with the FASFC, the presence of procedures, etc.
  • The organic guarantee of your suppliers based on their organic certificates. Ask your supplier for a copy of the certificate and check its validity date when placing orders
  • The procedure for receiving organic products: is this procedure in place?
  • Product traceability: is traceability respected? (Presence of original labels, transport documents)
  • Storage facilities: is storage carried out enabling conditions of identification and separation and does it guarantee the traceability of organic products? Is a cleaning procedure in place, compliant and properly implemented to avoid contamination?
  • Separation measures for mixed businesses: are conventional and organic products separated properly?
  • The quantities of products bought and sold must tally.
  • The presence of import procedures
  • The information in TRACES
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The organic-related communication (important point covered by the Regulation)

  • Labelling, data sheets, flyers, catalogues, website, etc.

The origin of the products you import will determine which items are audited.

The following are the different possible scenarios:

  • The product comes from a European country but not from the European Union (e.g. Switzerland, Finland, etc.). In this case, there is an automatic equivalence. The CERTISYS auditor checks the organic certificate issued by a recognised auditing body in these countries, the transport documents, invoices, delivery notes, labels, export quantities, etc. An eCOI is not necessary in this case.
  • The product comes from a country recognised by the European Union (e.g. Tunisia) or from a country where the auditing body is recognised by the EU for equivalence purposes. The CERTISYS auditor checks the organic certificate and the eCOI issued by the recognised auditing body of the country concerned, the transport documents, invoices, delivery notes, labels, the tally between the exported quantities, the batch number and the correct processing of the eCOI in TRACES.

Important point in the Regulation

Labelling, data sheets, flyers, catalogues, website, etc.

  • Certificates and guarantees from suppliers
  • All records and registers (cleaning, separation, etc.)
  • Import procedures
  • Incoming documents (delivery notes, transport documents, purchase invoices) and outgoing documents (delivery documents, sales invoices)
  • The complaints register
  • COIs

Other useful documents for becoming an organic importer

2. Becoming an exporter of organic products

Before exporting your products, ask your importer about the requirements of the importing country. They vary from country to country and change over time. This will ensure that your information is correct and up to date. You can also find country-specific export information at OrganicExport.INFO

What is your organic activity?

You export organic products to a country outside the European Union.

What information is essential to start your business as an exporter of organic products?

If you are exporting organic products to the UK, you will need to adjust your organic certification and notify CERTISYS of your export activity. If this is not yet the case, contact your auditor.

You will need a specific Certificate of Inspection in paper form – the ’GB COI’ :

  • From 1 January 2021, if your business is based in a Third Country
  • From 1 July 2021, if your business is based in an EU Member State

The British authorities will eventually develop an electronic import system to replace the paper system.

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You will need to complete a GB COI, with the help of your UK customer, for each batch you export. If your consignment is split during customs clearance, you will need to complete a ‘GB COI extract’ .

Contact certification@certisys.eu and enter ‘GB COI’ as the subject of your e-mail. You will need to make a scanned copy of your signed GB COI available to the port customs authorities on the consignment’s arrival.

The GB COI, the extract from the GB COI, the explanatory notes and step-by-step guidance can be downloaded here:

There are two certification systems for exporting your organic products to the USA. On the one hand, the equivalence agreement between the European Union and the USA and, on the other, NOP certification.

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EU-US Equivalence Agreement

Your EU organic certified products can be exported to the USA thanks to theequivalence agreement signed between the European Union and the USA in 2012.

To export your organic products to the USA, European organic certification is mandatory and the products must have been packaged in the European Union. This agreement exempts you from obtaining dual certification (NOP).

However, the US has an additional requirement regarding

  • Products and ingredients of animal origin (the use of antibiotics is completely prohibited). In this case, you must attach ‘Annex XII bis’ to your certificate.
  • Wine must meet the NOP regulations for sulphites in order to be exported under the equivalence agreement.
  • Aquaculture products are not included in this agreement. Therefore, they cannot be exported to the USA using this certification.

A summary of USDA requirements for exporting your products can be found in the USDA Practical Guide (PU4462).

On the label, both the European organic logo and the USDA Organic equivalence logo can be used. However, the labelling must comply with US standards. More information is available on eCFR(electronic Code of Federal Regulation) and in the practical guide (PU4418).

Specifying the following organic information on the label is mandatory:

  • The organic indication for each organic ingredient
  • The reference to the auditing body as follows: ‘Certified Organic by CERTISYS S.R.L./B.V.’ under the name of the company.

Other indications are authorised for organic products but are not obligatory:

  • The USDA logo (NOP)
  • The term ‘organic’
  • The percentage of organic ingredients (see specific provisions in the USDA practical guide) (PU4462)

The USDA logo cannot be used on the European market if the products are intended for export to the USA.

In addition to this organic information, you must of course mention any other requirements for foodstuffs (allergens, languages, weight, etc.) required in the United States.

 

NOP system

We have established a partnership with bio.inspecta for the NOP standard.

Like CERTISYS, bio.inspecta is the leading auditing and certification body in its country, Switzerland. We share the same values and commitment to a sustainable and ecological world. We are still your first point of contact and our experienced auditors will carry out your on-site audits. bio.inspecta will provide NOP certification for your activities.

Your advantage? A high-quality joint service based on the expertise of two reference organisations.

To complete your application, you must:

  • Provide an Organic System Plan (OSP), which is your NOP quality management plan.
    This OSP must be reviewed and approved by CERTISYS. In the meantime, you can withdraw your application at any time. The length of time it takes to review the application depends on the complexity of your OSP. This means that it depends on the number of sites, ingredients, manufacturing processes, final products, labels, and whether or not you jointly produce conventional, EC organic and NOP organic products. If no major non-conformities are established, a physical audit will be carried out to complete the audit procedure.
  • Provide a signed service contract. (OR3382)
    We also provide information on NOP certification. (PU4419)
    View all the NOP regulations on e-CFR.
    Follow the steps to ensure that your labelling complies with the standards. (PU4504)

Japan has recognised the European Organic Regulation as equivalent to its regulations for plant-based products. This means it is possible to export EU certified organic plant-based products to Japan. This is not the case for animal products. The products must be accompanied by a batch certificate issued by CERTISYS.

You have to include the Japanese organic logo on your products. Contact your importer in Japan to establish a contract to clarify responsibility for proper use of the logo.

You can find more information on the website of the MAFF(Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries).

There is equivalence between European organics and Korean organics.

The South Korean regulation has been recognised by the European Commission as equivalent to the European regulation for product category D (processed organic food). Processed products produced according to European regulations are also recognised as equivalent by the South Korean Authorities. This should facilitate the import and export of certified organic products from South Korea.

In order to export your organic products to Korea, you will need a batch certificate. You can request this via MyCertisys. The certificate code must be printed on the product packaging.

Organic products certified according to the EU Regulation and exported to Canada can feature the ‘Canada Organic’ logo. Please note that organic products exported to Canada must comply with Canadian labelling requirements.

You can find all the information you need to export to this country on the website of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and the FiBL.

Bio Suisse is the private label for the Swiss organic market. The criteria established by Bio Suisse are additional to those of the European organic label.

You can find the Swiss regulations (RX2025) and more information on the Bio Suisse label here, on the website of Bio-suisse.
Consult the latest news about official Swiss regulations here.

CERTISYS is recognised and authorised by Bio Suisse.

Are you an exporter in Flanders? Find out your tariff. (OR3470)

Are you an exporter in Wallonia, Brussels or the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg? Find out your tariff. (OR3210)

What is the procedure for your organic audit?

The organic audits carried out by a CERTISYS auditor are based on European Regulations and Regional Decrees. They include checking:

  • Documents relating to your organic activities
    • Your declaration, your registration with the FASFC, the presence of procedures, etc.
  • The organic-related communication (important point covered by the Regulation)
    • Labelling, flyers, catalogues, website, etc.

What important documents should you keep and prepare for your organic audit?

  • Certificates and guarantees from suppliers
  • All records and registers (cleaning, separation, etc.)
  • Receipt and production sheets
  • Incoming documents (delivery notes, purchase invoices) and outgoing documents (delivery documents, sales invoices)
  • The complaints register

Other useful documents for becoming an organic exporter

  • Would you like to certify your organic processing activity? Send us two service contracts (OR3260) and your organic activity declaration (OR3203) by e-mail to operator@certisys.eu AND by post to Rue Joseph Bouché 57/3 – 5310 Bolinne.
  • Are you an exporter in Wallonia, Brussels or the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg? Find out your (OR321)
  • Are you an exporter in Flanders? Find out your (OR3470)
  • You can consult all the simplified organic regulations in our practical guide for processors. (PU4513)
  • Guarantee the conformity of your products. We offer you a model procedure if you have any doubts. (NT3829)
  • We provide you with a sample complaints register. (SQ4065)
  • Possibility of using a reception sheet for organically grown products. (OR3237)

Would you like more information?

Contact us