Importing for organic businesses after Brexit
This information is correct at the time of publishing (30th March 2021).
Please ensure that you are checking the page regularly for current information.
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. (Please note the 1st July date reference in relation to requirements for GB COI for imports from the EU/EEA countries >5:28< has now been extended to 1st Jan 2022)
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.
The scope of the trade deal limits products that may be imported from the EU. Goods imported into the EU from other third countries and not further processed cannot be re-exported to GB.
GB operators importing packed and labelled processed goods or raw materials from the EU which were not grown or further processed in the EU, may find that the EU exporter is not regarded by GB ports as the actual 'exporter' and this may affect details added to GB Certificates of Inspection (COI)
Although GB COIs will not be required for imports from the EU, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland until 1st Jan 2022 this year, there is currently no system in place in GB to recognise EU certification bodies and enable them to issue GB COI’s for products outside the scope of the agreement.
For further deals of trade deal scopes , please refer to the Guide to exporting out-of -scope products on our export resources page.
Products from all 13 EU approved third countries (Annex III of the EC1235/2008 organic regulation 1 ) should also continue to be accepted. The UK government confirmed the continued acceptance with these third counties prior to end of the transition period when interim agreements were achieved with the majority. We will update this section as soon as we have further information on formal trade deals. 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 are a GB based operator and are responsible for trade of goods going directly between other non-EU countries and the EU, you will need to ensure there an EU business is licensed to import organic goods into the EU.
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
GB based operator can no longer use TRACES NT for imports. Imports of organic products into GB from the EU, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland will require GB Certificates of Inspection (CoI) from 1st January 2022. Imports into GB from all other countries currently require a GB paper-based COI.
- 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 do need to be with the PHA/BCP ready for when the consignment arrives. If a signed digital copy is 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 are available to download below.
COI's are not needed for good movements into from the EU into Northern Ireland, but operators must use the EU TRACESNT system for imports from all non-EU countries (and hold organic certification as importers). Provided businesses are registered Authorised Traders (STAMNI) COIs will not be required for goods exported from GB to Northern Ireland until October 1st 2021.
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.
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 Jan 1st 2021 for non-0EU imports and Jan 1st 2022 for imports from EU, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland. 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.