#Certification to the EU organic standards
Oregon Tilth offers services to evaluate certified crop and handling operations to the European Union (EU) organic standard.
What are the benefits to complying with the EU organic regulations?
OTCO certified operators based in the U.S. comply with the National Organic Program (NOP) and as part of NOP certification, operators are eligible to export to the EU under the guidance of equivalency trade arrangements. Operators in the U.S. are not required to apply to the EU Organic Certification Program.
OTCO certified operators based in Mexico are located in a country where no equivalency trade arrangement exists with the EU. For these operators, OTCO offers an EU Organic Certification program that is recognized by the European Commission. Operators that fully comply with EU organic regulations can export to the EU.
How do I apply for EU organic certification?
For operators located in Mexico, review the current Regulation (EU) 2018/848 -rules on organic production and labelling of organic products to ensure your operation is compliant. You will then undergo a full inspection and audit to EU 2018/848 and the applicable regulations with a declaration of compliance issued upon successful review.
How do I find the most up-to-date version of the EU Regulations?
Beginning January 1, 2022, OTCO has applied for accreditation to the EU 2018/848 regulations. OTCO is transitioning operators from a private equivalency recognition to a full compliance certification. Operators currently compliant to OTCO IACB Equivalency Standards (EU 834/2007), shall transition to full compliance with the EU 2018/848 regulations by January of 2025.
#Importing organic products from the EU to the U.S.
Equivalency arrangements between the EU and the USDA National Organic Program (NOP) allow for the export of EU organic products to the U.S.
Are there restrictions for EU certified products imported to the U.S.?
Yes. The following exceptions and requirements are applied to all EU organic products imported to the U.S.:
- No agricultural products derived from animals treated with antibiotics
- No aquatic animals (e.g. fish, shellfish)
- For retail products, labels or stickers must state the name of the U.S. or EU certifying agent and may use the USDA Organic seal or the EU organic logo. Exported products must meet the labeling requirements in the destination country
Is an import certificate required for EU certified products imported to the U.S.?
Yes. The certifier of the supplier must complete a U.S. import certificate for all EU organic products traded under the arrangement.
Forms & Documents
Please send all export request documents to firstname.lastname@example.org.
#Exporting organic products from the U.S. to the EU
For OTCO-certified operators based in the U.S., equivalency arrangements enable you to sell products to a processor, handler or distributor exporting to the EU without further certification.
Are there restrictions for USDA NOP certified products exported to the EU?
Any USDA NOP certified product produced or handled within the U.S. is eligible for export to EU member states with the following restrictions:
- Product must be shipped from a U.S. port and have its final USDA NOP handling/labeling completed in the U.S.
- Your product label must comply with EU labeling requirements
- Every shipment must be accompanied by a Certificate of Inspection (COI) form issued through TRACES, please contact us at email@example.com for support
What products are exempt from Equivalency Arrangement?
Personal care products and pet food products are outside of the scope of this arrangement. This means NOP certified personal care and pet food products may be labeled/sold as USDA organic in the EU, and no export approval or documentation is required. They may not bear the EU organic seal.
What do I need to know about exporting organic products to the EU from other countries such as Mexico?
If you are exporting organic products to the EU that are not being shipped or produced from the U.S., you may need to have certification to the EU standards. Even if you are a U.S.-based company with products being shipped from another country, additional restrictions may apply. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
When should I get my product approved by OTCO for export?
It is important to start planning for the export of your product when you submit your product composition and labeling information to OTCO. Each country has specific requirements as part of their equivalency arrangements with the USDA National Organic Program that you will need to take into consideration. We’ll need to approve your product to ensure that it meets all requirements for export. Telling us that you plan to export a product when you add it to your certification will save you time and avoid costly delays later in the process.
#Understanding EU’s Trade Control and Expert System (TRACES)
The Trade Control and Expert System (TRACES) is the European Commission’s multilingual online management tool for all sanitary requirements on intra-EU trade and importation of animals, food, feed, and plants.
Why and when did the online Certificate of Inspection (COI) system start?
As of October 19th, 2017 the EU has only been accepting electronic export certificates, commonly known as Certificates of Inspection (COI) through their new system called TRACES. This new system is designed to increase efficiencies and integrity with the import approval process.
What are the supporting documents that are required for each COI?
Typical supporting documents include invoices, the packing list(s), and either a BOL (bill of lading) or AWB (airway bill) depending on how the product is being shipped.
Who can request a COI?
Importers and exporters have the ability to request a COI if they are set up in the system as operators.
How do I get started in TRACES in order to request a COI?
OTCO clients need to be registered as organic producers and organic exporters in order to be selected in designated boxes. An operator account is needed in order to create a COI. First, create an account on EU Login. Secondly, request an access profile in TRACES NT. Learn more via the instructions on the TRACES NT website.
Is there anything I need to know to fill out the request form?
All products on the request form must match the wording on the organic certificate. For example, if you are shipping “strawberries” and your organic certificate says “frozen strawberries,” then “frozen strawberries” must be on the request form. In addition, TRACES has yet to create an electronic signature feature. A hard copy of the COI is required by customs until further notice.
How do I get a copy after the submission of my COI?
Please send an email with the COI number as the subject line to email@example.com and be sure to include:
- Destination address
- FedEx/UPS/DHL account number for billing purposes (if sending via UPS, please provide the zip code associated with the account to be billed)
- Supporting documents if not uploaded to the request form already. OTCO will provide the tracking number once the shipping label has been created