Import for organic businesses after Brexit
Important update: With a trade deal between UK and EU announced on the 24th of December there may be further changes to the requirements for importing detailed below. Should we be made aware of any changes to these requirements, we will update the information contained in this page at the earliest possible opportunity.
From the 1st January 2021, several things will change for organic farmers and growers, manufacturers and traders importing into the UK
As the UK’s organic experts and the largest dedicated food and farming charity, we have compiled some key information for organic businesses who import product into the UK. We are here to support you in this period of change.
In addition to the guidance on this page, you can also watch our 25 minute video guide, created to help importers and exporters of organic food, feed, seed and livestock understand new certification and port clearance requirements for a number of differing trade scenarios.
Importing into the UK after 31st December 2020
The EU has now agreed to recognise the UK as equivalent for organics until 31 December 2023. This is on top of the already agreed equivalence recognition for UK control bodies, and the UK recognition of the EU as equivalent.
As the UK will retain EC1235/2008 in our UK organic regulation coming into force in Jan 2021, recognition of organic products where certifiers are approved under EC1235/2008 scope (Annex IV of the EC1235/2008 organic regulation1 ) should continue.
Products from all 13 EU approved third countries (Annex III of the EC1235/2008 organic regulation 1 ) should also continue, but the UK government are confirming the continued accepted with these third counties prior to end of the transition period. We will update this section as soon as we have further information. Note: countries detailed in retained Annex III are not approved for all product categories.
From 1 January 2021 different exporting rules may apply in non-EU third countries where equivalency is not agreed with the UK. Businesses are advised to contact the exporting control body in the country they are importing food from if they have any questions.
If you are importing organic food, feed or drink products into the UK and plan to do so after 31st December 2020, you will be required to hold an organic processor licence. Where not licensed for importing, 1st consignees - i.e. those who 1st physically receive the goods may also require a licence.
If you currently hold a Wholesaler licence you will require a Processor licence in addition to, or instead of your Wholesaler licence. You can read more about changes for Wholesalers in our recent Trade News article.
Please note that if you require a new license, we will endeavor to help you achieve this as quickly as possible. However, we anticipate significant demand for certification services between now and January 1st and cannot guarantee that all new licenses will be issued before December 31st.
If you already hold a processor licence, you should contact email@example.com to ensure that your current licence is scoped for importing from third countries and imported products are identified.
If you are importing and placing an imported product on the GB market, it will need to be listed on your Trading Schedule, either individually or as part of a product category e.g. ‘Ambient grocery products, chilled dairy products’.
If you are importer-processor who imports an ingredient for inclusion in a certified product that is already listed on your Trading Schedule, that ingredient product does not need to be listed separately on your Trading Schedule.
Whether changing your licence or extending scope, if you are not currently certified to import, from January 2021 you'll need to have completed a Description of Importing form.
Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for further details of how to change or extend scope your existing licence, how to add products to your Trading Schedule or start the application process for a new licence.
Description of Importing Document post transition period
Please complete the form if you plan on importing food, feed or drink products from 1st January 2021Download the Document
From Jan 1st 2021 imports of organic products into the GB will require an interim paper-based GB certificate of Inspection (CoI). The following exceptions apply:
- Northern Ireland operators who will continue to use the EU TRACESNT system for imports from all non-EU countries from Jan 1st 2021.
- Products imported into GB from Northern Ireland will not require a CoI.
- There may be an exemption for COIs for goods from GB to NI until April 1st 2021 for Authorised Traders only.
- COIs will not be needed for imports from EU , Switzerland and EEA countries until July 1st 2021.
Please note if you are a GB based operator you no can longer use TRACES for imports and the COI team can no longer approve importers/operators roles in TRACES for GB. Importing and Operators roles in TRACESNT now only apply for Northern Irish operators who will need to hold organic certification as importers and registered in TRACESNT.
DEFRA are informing Third Countries Certifiers of this new requirement. However, please inform your customers there will be a new requirement for imports into GB.
For each consignment you import, a GB paper-based CoI will need to be completed by the exporter, endorsed by their certifier and be available to the Port Health or Border Control Post on arrival of the consignment. CoI’s don’t need to travel with the consignment, but does need to be with the PHA/BCP ready for when the consignment arrives. If a signed digital copy id sent to PHA/BCP this will be accepted, but an original copy must be received by PHA/BCP within 10 days of clearance. The new GB CoI and explanatory notes can both be downloaded here:
If you are importing organic products of animal origin or livestock from the EU please ensure you have registered for the new UK IPAFFS system here.
GB CoI Blank Document Template
Blank GB CoI document for imports into the UK from third countriesDownload it here
GB CoI Explanatory notes
Guidance on how to complete the GB CoIRead it here
Extract GB CoI Blank Document Template
This form is to be used for operators wishing to split consignments into batchesLearn More Here
Extract of GB CoI notes
Guidance on how to complete the blank extract templateLearn More
Before you import please ensure the following:
- You hold a valid organic food and drink licence
- Your exporter is aware of the new requirement for GB CoI’s
- The GB CoI is completed and sent for approval to the Third Country Certifiers
- If you are the importer you have notified the Port Health Authority (PHA) /Border Control Post (BCP) ahead of the organic shipment arriving (at least 24hours in advance)
- The GB paper CoI travels with the goods to ensure it arrives with the shipment ready for the PHA/BCP to sign, approved and then release the goods.
It is important to ensure that you are aware of the new requirements which come into effect from June 30th 2021. If you import organic products without an approved GB CoI this could result in your goods being delayed or loosing organic status.
DEFRA Step-by-step guidance on importing organic and importing FAQ's can be downloaded below:
DEFRA Step-by-step guidance on importing organicRead them here
Great Britain CoI FAQsRead them here
For more information on food importing and exporting after Brexit visit the .gov webpages
Talk to us
As the organic experts in the UK we provide a wealth of free information and guidance to our organic licensees.
If you can’t find what you’re looking for on these pages, please get in touch by email: email@example.com
- Under European Commission regulation 1235/2008 certifier, country and product category must appear in Annex IV of the organic regulation 834/2007 and the exporter must be registered on TRACES NT
- Country, certifier and product category must appear in Annex III of the organic regulation European Commission Regulation 834/2007.