Imports of Organic products


Border controls are in place to ensure that organic products imported into the European Union are compliant with organic production standards.  These rules encourage a harmonised system of production, ensuring that standards of organic production observed in the EU are met by imported organic products.  This is for the protection of EU producers and consumers.  The checks are carried out at the border by Port Health and the policy is managed by the Defra Organic Farming Branch.

Importers of consignments of organic food and feed products need to submit the required documentation to Port Health for checking prior to importation.  There is a fee payable.


The Organic Products Regulations 2009 as amended by The Organic Products (Amendment) Regulations 2010 enact the EU Regulations into law.

The Organic Products Regulations provide for the administration and enforcement of the EU organic laws, which is made up of: -

Products Subject to Import Checks

All food and feed imported as organic must comply with the conditions.  The rules do not apply to plants and other plant products and other items not for consumption by humans or animals such as fabric or organic products for external application such as oils, creams or cosmetics.

The following categories are controlled (as specified in Council Regulation 834/2007 Article 1(2):-

Consignment definition - a quantity of products under one or more Combined Nomenclature (CN) codes, covered by a single certificate of inspection, conveyed by the same means of transport and imported from the same country.

Import conditions

Notification and endorsement of all Organic consignments must be made via TRACES NT from 19th Oct 2017 - further information can be found here

Pre notification

A requirement of the legislation is that importers notify Port Health of the intended arrival of the organic consignment 24 hours in advance.  This is usually by the submission of the Certificate of Inspection (CoI), however the following methods are all accepted.

Pre-notifications can be made by:

*Note that the country of clearance/point of entry must be completed to indicate Felixstowe and UK (in box 9) otherwise our staff will not be able to view the CoI on TRACES NT.  Additionally, it would be helpful if the ETA date is added after the vessel name in box 17.

Currently we will not be aware that a CoI has been submitted on the TRACES NT system as there is no electronic notification system in place to the point of entry of its existence.

Certificate of Inspection

The Certificate of Inspection is a document issued by the control authority or the control body.  The format of the document is established in Annex V of Commission Regulation 1235/2008 (as amended).  The signed certificate is submitted to port health for validation and an endorsed signed CoI must accompany the consignment to the consignee’s premises where it must be kept for 2 years. Note when electronic signatures are accepted paper copies may not be required. 

Documentary Check

All imports are subjected to a documentary check – an assessment of the CoI is conducted to ensure that it is valid.  A printed signed TRACES NT e-CoI is currently required.

Identity Check

An identity check is not normally carried out however, if there was any question over the link between the documentation and the consignment checks could be carried out.

Physical Check

Physical checks are not normally carried out however; the law provides that samples may be taken where required.


A £45 charge is made to cover the costs of carrying out the checks. 

The charges must be paid before the consignment can be released for free circulation.

Satisfactory checks

On satisfactory completion of the checks, consignments may be released for free circulation into the Community.  The completed CoI will be verified and endorsed on TRACES NT, printed, signed and returned (this will be necessary until electronic signatures are in place). The TRACES NT system will indicate consignment verified when the CoI has been endorsed by Port Health. The signed e-CoI may then be used as evidence that the checks have been satisfactorily completed.

Note: There is a further stage of CoI completion by the first consignee following clearance at the point of entry indicated on the TRACES NT system which is indicated by a status of first consignee declaration signed when signed off/saved.

Unsatisfactory Checks

Products failing to satisfy import conditions may be re-exported to a country outside the EEA or relabelled under supervision to remove all organic references.

Where the checks are found to be unsatisfactory you will be sent a legal notice specifying the reason and outlining any options available.  If you do not think that this is in accordance with the law an appeal may usually be brought to a Magistrates Court. This right must be exercised within one month of the notice being served.  On receipt of a notice, recipients are advised to contact their legal advisers if they wish to appeal against the notice.

Smuggled Imports

The ultimate responsibility for ensuring that checks have been carried out before import lies with Customs, however port health will also check manifest information and commercial documentation to ensure that checks are carried out.  Inland Trading Standards Officers for the Local Authority are responsible for checks at retail sale.


Defra (organic imports) are the lead competent authority in the UK . The contact email is

EU TRACES NT website guidance.

UK organic control bodies.

Jargon Buster Search

... read the full list here

Related Web Links

  • Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) Clearances

    HMRC Her Majesties Revenue and Customs are responsible for ensuring that controlled consignments from third countries have undergone border checks and the charges have been paid before releasing consignments for import.

  • Organic Imports GOV.UK
    Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) Organic Farming Branch are the government department responsible for policy in relation to imports of organic products