Background for imports

#OTCO policy for import of high-risk organic products

OTCO has identified and implemented increased scrutiny of products — most commonly grains such as corn, soy and wheat — deemed to be at increased risk of misrepresentation as organic.

What happens if I want to import an at-risk organic product?

All OTCO-certified operations importing at-risk products are subject to OTCO review and approval of the initial three shipments (at minimum) of each supplier prior to the product’s release for sale as organic.

How do I demonstrate quality records for an imported product?

OTCO requires acceptable documentation tracing each product import shipment back to the last certified handler prior to approval for sale as organic. Records must assure compliance with USDA NOP regulations and demonstrate a clear chain of custody of the product.

How is a chain of custody established and determined to be acceptable?

OTCO requires the chain of custody records satisfy a complete audit trail back to the certified handler of the product, transaction and/or import certificates, and phytosanitary certificates. OTCO inspectors will ensure this policy is followed during their inspections of an OTCO-certified operation.

#Requesting import certificates

The U.S. established trade partnerships with several countries to facilitate the exchange of organic products internationally. Equivalency agreements between other countries give U.S. organic producers opportunities to access new markets.

Which countries require an import certificate for shipping products to the U.S.?

USDA National Organic Program (NOP) Import Certificates are required to be issued for shipment of products into the U.S. from: the European Union, Japan, Korea Switzerland, and Taiwan. In addition, shipments from India require a transaction certificate issued from TraceNet.

How do I request an import certificate?

For products being imported to the US from a country with which it has a current equivalency arrangement, you will need a U.S. National Organic Program (NOP) Import Certificate completed and issued by the certifying agent. The certifying agent must be supervised by the country of origin’s control body and accredited in compliance with its organic regulations.

This NOP Import Certificate should accompany the imported goods during shipment and be retained by the purchasing operation for their annual inspection.  You can read more about it here:

#Requesting a transaction certificate

How do I request a hard copy of the transaction certificate to be sent?

If you would like the original hard copy of the certificate to be sent, provide a shipping address as well as an account number (FedEx, UPS, DHL) to be billed. Include a contact name and phone number associated with the recipient. If sending via UPS, provide the zip code associated with the account to be billed.

Is a transaction certificate request eligible for expedited service?

Yes. Please state all expedite needs in the body of the request email to

#International trade guide for U.S.-based companies

Our international trade guide provides an overview of the international equivalencies and arrangements in place with the USDA NOP, and outlines requirements for imports and exports.

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