Guidance

Importing and exporting organic food

Rules for trading organic food.

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 and Liechtenstein 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 Great Britain 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 Great Britain 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 Great Britain

Organic products imported from the EU, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland to Great Britain will not require a certificate of inspection (COI) until further notice.

Moving organic food from Northern Ireland to Great Britain

There is no change to the movement of organic goods from Northern Ireland to Great Britain.

You do not need a COI if you’re moving goods from Northern Ireland to Great Britain.

Importing organic food from non-EU countries to Great Britain

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

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

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 GB 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 (up to 31 December 2022).

These control bodies and control authorities must reapply for recognition to certify to an equivalent GB organic standard. Defra will email application packs to registered control bodies and control authorities. They must reapply by 29 April 2022 for recognition from 1 January 2023.

New control bodies and control authorities can apply for recognition to certify to an equivalent GB organic standard. To apply, they should email UK_TC_CB_comms@defra.gov.uk with the 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 the application pack.

New control bodies and authorities must apply by 29 April 2022 for recognition from 1 January 2023.

Exporting organic food from Great Britain 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 Great Britain to Northern Ireland

The government has introduced new legislation to make changes to how the Northern Ireland Protocol will apply. You should continue to use the guidance below for now. It will be updated in due course, giving you time to prepare for any new requirements.

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

The movement of organic goods from Great Britain to Northern Ireland 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 that allows traders such as supermarkets and their 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) has issued guidance on the requirements for goods movements.

Read DAERA’s guidance on organic food and feed in Northern Ireland.

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.

Some food and feed that’s certified as organic in Great Britain is also recognised as organic in the following countries:

  • Australia
  • Canada
  • Chile
  • 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 Northern Ireland and the EU

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

Read DAERA’s guidance on organic food and feed in Northern Ireland.

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 Great Britain 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 Great Britain

You’ll need to notify a port health authority (PHA) or your local authority (LA) before your goods arrive back in Great Britain.

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 Great Britain

If you want to sell or market your goods as ‘organic’ in Great Britain, 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 Great Britain as organic.

If you need help

Contact your organic control body if you have any queries.

Published 31 December 2020
Last updated 11 July 2022 + show all updates
  1. 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.

  2. Updated the guidance under the 'Importing organic food from the EU, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland to Great Britain' heading.

  3. Import controls on EU goods to Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales) planned from July will not be introduced in 2022. The controls that have already been introduced remain in place. This page will be updated in autumn 2022.

  4. Updated the section 'Certifying organic food in countries outside the UK for export to Great Britain'. New information about how control bodies and control authorities can apply (or reapply) for recognition to certify to an equivalent GB organic standard.

  5. New guidance on: * certifying organic food in countries outside the UK for export to Great Britain * moving organic food from Great Britain to Northern Ireland

  6. Updated with a new date for the introduction of controls on imports of organic food.

  7. Removed the 1 October 2021 date from the 'Moving organic food from Great Britain to Northern Ireland' guidance. Authorised traders can continue to move some goods from Great Britain to Northern Ireland without needing official certification.

  8. The date from which imports will need a certificate of inspection has changed from 1 July 2021 to 1 January 2022.

  9. Updated section on moving organic food from GB to NI.

  10. Updated 'Moving organic food from GB to NI' section with information on costs covered by the Movement Assistance Scheme.

  11. New guidance for bringing goods back to Great Britain if they have been rejected for import.

  12. First published.