Inspection requirements and expectations

Good planning, clear organization, and complete documentation is required for an inspector to track your organic product throughout its lifespan.

How often do I need to be inspected?

All certified operations are subject to a mandatory annual inspection within the calendar year. Operations that make substantial production or operational changes during the course of a certification year may be required to undergo an additional inspection. All operations may be selected for an unannounced or sample inspection at any time.

What do first-time organic certification operations need to know about inspection requirements?

All new crop and livestock certified organic farms must be inspected prior to the harvest of their first organic crops or selling livestock derived products. All new certified organic processors must be inspected before any organic production can start. Please make sure to review the rest of this page prior to your first inspection, as it contains important information and FAQs for operations new to organic certification. You will also find the Pre-Inspection Checklist helpful in preparing for your first inspection. NOP requires that we conduct new applicant inspections within 6 months of being deemed ready to inspect.

What do I need to know about supporting inspectors?

Inspectors must be granted complete access to your operation, including non-certified production areas, structures, and all records (including financial) associated with organic and non-organic production.

An authorized and informed representative of the operation must be present during inspections, as well as any other relevant staff to answer questions and provide explanations.

Inspections will occur at a time when land, facilities, and activities that demonstrate compliance (i.e., during grazing season), or the ability to comply, can be observed.

How long will the inspection take?

The on-site inspection can take anywhere from hours to days depending on the size and complexity of your operation.

When can I expect to see the results of my inspection?

The inspection report is made available in your MyOTCO account within a few weeks of your inspection. Review of the report by certification officers and a certification decision takes approximately 30 days — and as many as 45 days during peak season — depending upon the issuance of any noncompliances or requests for additional documentation.

What should I expect during an inspection?

Preparation and organization are key. Throughout the year, check to make sure your internal controls and quality assurance measures are up-to-date and accurate. It’s best to review (and organize if needed) pre-inspection checklists and common records that will be inspected. In addition, conducting practice audit exercises can provide you with a better understanding of how to support the inspection process.

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