Change to organic certification code for Northern Ireland businesses

Change to organic certification code for Northern Ireland businesses

The EU Commission has informed Defra that a change is required to the format of certification codes for Northern Ireland.

This is because the current codes do not distinguish between certification bodies (CBs) operating in Northern Ireland under EU rules, and those operating in Great Britain under UK law, which is not in line with the Provisions of the Windsor Framework. This means that different codes need to be assigned to CBs operating in Northern Ireland to those operating in GB.

What will the new codes be?

The EU Commission has assigned the certification code XI-ORG-XXX for Northern Ireland. This means that for certification in NI the code to denote SA Certification will change to XI-ORG-05.

The amended codes are to be used on the labels of organic products produced in NI as well as on electronic certification and communication systems like TRACES (COIs).

Why is the pre-fix not NI?

We understand that the codes are based on the international ISO codes and NI is already used for Nicaragua, so could not be used to identify Northern Ireland as well.  XI is already used to identify Northern Ireland in some official EU documentation, such as custom’s declarations.

When will this change happen?

We are still awaiting to hear from Defra when this change will happen. We are lobbying for realistic timescales for businesses to make the change to labelling and use existing packaging stocks. Goods already labelled with existing GB codes can be sold with no change to the labelling, until stocks are exhausted.

Defra have asked us to provide more information on the impact this will have on businesses and so we would appreciate any data you are able to share with us on the following:

  • number of product lines you will need to change labelling

  • current packaging stocks and how long it would take to use up existing stock

  • timescale to amend artwork and print new labelling.

If you are able to provide data, please do so by COP Wednesday 4th October 2023, by emailing food.drink@soilassociation.org.

Although we do not know the timescales for implementing the changes, it has been confirmed that the change will need to be made shortly.  If you are looking at printing labels in the near future, consider changing the certification code to XI-ORG-05, or print a smaller number of labels to allow you to accommodate changes to labelling sooner.   

As soon as we have further updates, we will inform you.

If you have questions, contact our certification team at food.drink@soilassociation.org