On 31 January 2020, the United Kingdom (UK) withdrew from the European Union (EU) under a Withdrawal Agreement. The Agreement provided a transition period in which EU legislation continued to apply in the UK. This transition period ended 31 December 2020.
From 31 December 2020, the EU's organic regulations (Council Regulation (EC) 834/2007 and Council Regulations (EC) 889/2008 and 1235/2008) were retained in the domestic legal framework in the UK, with minor amendments to ensure they are operable. Therefore, the EU's current organic regulations (Council Regulation (EC) 834/2007 and Council Regulations (EC) 889/2008 and 1235/2008) are retained in the domestic legal framework in the UK.
Further, the Northern Ireland/Ireland Protocol to the Withdrawal Agreement came into effect on 1 January 2021. Under the Protocol, Organic Regulations which are applicable in the EU continue to be directly applicable in Northern Ireland. Therefore, an EU Certificate of Inspection (COI) via TRACES NT is still required for organic goods exported to Northern Ireland.
There are no general requirements for the UK.
Australia's equivalence agreement with the European Union is applicable in the UK. The equivalence agreement applies to:
- unprocessed plant products, excluding seaweed
- processed agricultural products for use as food composed essentially of one or more ingredients of plant origin, excluding wine and yeast
- vegetative propagating material and seeds for cultivation.
Australia's current equivalence recognition arrangement with the EU is detailed under
Annex III of EU Regulation 1235/2008.
Wine and yeast are not included in the agreement.
Under the Agreement, imported organic plant products are prohibited for entry to the EU and by necessary extension the UK. For example, where Australia imports a plant product certified as organic and it is used in further processing, the resultant product is not eligible to be exported to the EU nor the UK.
According to Article 17(1)(f) of European Commission Regulation (EC) No 834/2007 animals and animal products produced during the conversion period referred to in subparagraph (c) shall not be marketed in the Union, and by necessary extension the UK, with the indications referred to in Articles 23 and 24 of that Regulation used in the labelling and advertising of products.
Subparagraph (c) provides, “conversion periods specific to the type of crop or animal production shall be defined.”
Article 17 Conversion
- The following rules shall apply to a farm on which organic production is started:
- (a) the conversion period shall start at the earliest when the operator has notified his activity to the competent authorities and subjected his holding to the control system in accordance with Article 28(1);
- (b) during the conversion period all rules established by this Regulation shall apply;
- (c) conversion periods specific to the type of crop or animal production shall be defined;
- (d) on a holding or unit partly under organic production and partly in conversion to organic production, the operator shall keep the organically produced and in-conversion products separate and the animals separate or readily separable and keep adequate records to show the separation;
- (e) in order to determine the conversion period referred to above, a period immediately preceding the date of the start of the conversion period, may be taken into account, in so far as certain conditions concur;
(f) animals and animal products produced during the conversion period referred to in subparagraph (c) shall not be marketed with the indications referred to in Articles 23 and 24 used in the labelling and advertising of products.
- The measures and conditions necessary for the implementation of the rules contained in this Article, and in particular the periods referred to in paragraph 1(c) to (f) shall be defined in accordance with the procedure referred to in Article 37(2).
For further reading on Articles 23 and 24, refer to
Regulation (EC) No 834/2007.
- European Union Regulation 2018/848 comes into force 1 January 2022. It shall repeal Regulation (EC) 834/2007. It contains new provisions on in-conversion products, which mirror the current, in-force provisions.
GB COI process for export from Australia
Great Britain’s organic regime commenced on 1 January 2021. This regime includes the requirements for a Great Britain Certificate of Inspection (GB COI) for good exported to countries within Great Britain [England, Scotland and Wales].
- For products certified on or after 1 January 2021, the GB COI is to be completed in advance by the exporter and emailed to the relevant Australian certifying body to verify the consignment is organic.
- The certifying body signs and stamps box 18 of the GB COI. The endorsed GB COI is then scanned and emailed to the exporter AND the original endorsed GB COI is returned to the exporter.
- The exporter sends the original endorsed GB COI to the destination address and emails a copy of the GB COI to the importer.
GB COI process for importer on or prior to arrival in GB
- The importer is to phone or email the GB Port Health Authority (PHA) at least 24 hours in advance of the arrival of the consignment. The importer must also email the GB COI, organic certificate and shipping documents.
- If the consignment is to be split, the importer shall submit an extract of the certificate of inspection to the relevant PHA.
- The PHA will check documents and carry out any necessary physical checks or testing. If the consignment passes, they will endorse by signing and stamping Box 20 or Box 13 of the extract of the certificate of inspection and clear the goods for onward movement. (A copy can be endorsed, as long as the original is also endorsed within 10 working days).
- If the goods are cleared, the importer shall indicate the number of the GB COI in the customs declaration for free circulation.
- First consignee will collect the goods, sign Box 21 or Box 14 of the extract of the GB COI and ensure the importer receives the endorsed GB COI. The consignee of a batch shall keep the extracts of the GB COI for no less than 2 years.
- The importer shall keep the original endorsed COI and copies of the endorsed extracts of the GB COI on file for at least 3 years.
- The organic control body in Great Britain may check GB COI during routine inspections of importers.
GB COI template
A copy of the GB COI template below is available on
Great Britain – Organics: Organic certificate of inspection process from 1 January 2021 (2020-07).
GB COI Explanatory Notes
The following are the explanatory notes provided by the UK Government Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs for the completion of the GB COI:
Box 1: Name, address and code of control body or authority in the third country. This body also completes boxes 4 to 8.
Box 2: This box indicates which Regulations are relevant
Council Regulation (EC) No 834/2007, as it has effect in Great Britain:
- Article 33(2) – confirms that the products are imported under Annex III, equivalent third countries.
- Article 33(3) – confirms that the products are certified as equivalent to
GB Regulations in the third country and are certified by a control body listed on Annex IV. (This box is not for use yet)
Council Regulation (EC) No 834/2007, as it has effect in the European Union:
The boxes that should be checked will be the 1st or 4th and which box is checked will depend on whether the import is from a third country listed on Annex III or is certified by a control body appearing on Annex IV as approved to operate in the third country the products originate from.
- Article 33(2) – confirms that the products are imported under annex III, EU’s equivalent third countries. (Do not check this box for imports to GB).
- Article 33(3) – confirms that the products are certified as equivalent to the
EU Regulations in the third country and are certified by a control body listed on Annex IV.
GB will accept an organic certificate setting out that the products which are certified by control bodies on Annex IV are equivalent to the EU standards until 1 January 2023, alongside a GB CoI.
Box 3: Serial number of the certificate, this will need to be assigned by the third country control body until an electronic system can automatically assign this.
In order to ensure a logical serial number is given and it is unique to the consignment, we propose the following format "COI.[CB code].nnnnn". As the CB code is unique, there will be no possible duplication by other CBs.
Box 4: Name and address of the operator exporting the products from the country mentioned in box 8. The exporter is: the operator performing the last operation for the purposes of preparation and sealing products in appropriate packaging or containers.
Box 5: Operator(s) who produced or processed the products in the third country mentioned in box 7.
Box 6: Control body(ies) or authority(ies) for monitoring compliance of the production or processing of the products with the rules of organic production in the country mentioned in box 7.
Box 7: Country of origin means the country where the product has been produced/ grown or processed.
Box 8: Country of export means the country where the product has been subject to the last operation for the purposes of preparation and sealed in appropriate packaging or containers.
Box 9: Country of clearance means
Great Britain. Point of entry is the point of release for free circulation.
Box 10: Country of destination would be
Box 11: Name, address and the Economic Operators Registration and Identification number (EORI) of the importer.
Box 12: Name and address of the first consignee of the consignment in the United Kingdom. The first consignee shall mean the natural or legal person where the consignment is delivered and where it will be handled for further preparation and/or marketing. The first consignee shall also complete box 21.
Box 13: Description of products that includes Combined Nomenclature (CN) codes for the products concerned (8-digit level where possible), trade name, number of packages (number of boxes, cartons, bags, buckets, etc.), lot number and net weight.
Box 14: Optional
Box 15: Optional
Box 16: Total gross weight expressed in appropriate units (Kg of net mass, Litre, etc.)
Box 17: Means of transport arriving at the point of entry.
Mode of transport: aeroplane, vessel, railways, road vehicle, other.
Identification of the means of transport:
- for aeroplane, indicate the flight number,
- for vessels, indicate the ship name(s),
- for railways, indicate the train identity and wagon number,
- for road transportation, indicate the registration number plate with trailer number plate, if appropriate. In the case of ferry, indicate vessel and road vehicle with the identification of the road vehicle and of the scheduled ferry.
Box 18: Declaration of control authority or control body issuing the certificate.
The signature and the stamp must be in a different colour to that of the printing.
Box 19: Shall be filled in by the competent authority or by the importer.
Box 20: Shall be completed by the competent authority, if appropriate, before the preparation or splitting operation in the circumstances and at the verification of the consignment.
Box 21: Shall be filled in by the first consignee at the reception of the products, when the checks have been completed.
Questions and answers
What if the original signed COI hasn’t arrived in order to clear the goods?
As part of the import process, an endorsed COI should be sent to the Port Health Authority, usually by courier. Then PHA can endorse a copy if the original hasn’t arrived in order to clear the goods, though the original will need to be endorsed within 10 working days for the consignment to be sold on as organic.
Do organic goods moving between GB and NI require a COI?
Organic products from Northern Ireland (NI) do not require a COI. Organics exported from GB to NI will require an EU COI as they will apply the EU Organic Regulations. If you wish to export organic products to NI, you must register on TRACES NT and be approved by your control body.
What happens to goods that have already been shipped to the UK before the end of the transition period?
They should already be registered on TRACES NT and have an EU COI. The EU COI will be checked and endorsed upon arrival in GB. The importer or agent should notify the PHA of the arrival in case they cannot access the notification in TRACES NT. All goods leaving a third country on or before the end of the transition period will require an EU COI. Consignments leaving a third country from the 1 January 2021 will require a GB COI.
What happens if an organic consignment arrives in GB without an endorsed COI?
If an organic consignment arrives without an endorsed COI (either the original or a copy), the consignment cannot be cleared as organic.
The goods must be either:
- re-labelled, removing all reference to organics
- re-exported as non-organic OR
Can imported products from third countries use the EU organic logo at the end of the transition period?
The logo and its use are controlled by the EU. Products can continue to use the EU logo where the products meet the EU requirements for the use of the logo.