There are regulated procedures around the importing of organic produce to Great Britain. Border controls are in place to check that organic products imported into Great Britain are compliant with organic production standards and can be marketed and sold on as organic rather than conventional products.
Port Health undertake checks at the border on organic products to ensure they comply with organic production standards. Importers are required to supply the required documentation prior to inspection. This is to ensure that organic products imported into GB have been certified by control bodies that are recognised to have equivalent production and inspection standards.
DEFRA is the competent authority in Great Britain (GB) and the organics policy is managed by the DEFRA Organic Farming Branch.
Growers, processors, and importers who sell food or feed as organic must be registered with an approved organic control body.
The UK approved control bodies are:
- Organic Farmers and Growers CIC (GB-ORG-02)
- Organic Food Federation (GB-ORG-04)
- Soil Association Certification Ltd (GB-ORG-05, GB-BIO-142)
- Biodynamic Association Certification Ltd (GB-ORG-13)
- OF&G (Scotland) Ltd (GB-ORG-17)
- Quality Welsh Food Certification Ltd (GB-ORG-13)
- Irish Organic Association (GB-ORG-07)
- Organic Trust CLG (GB-ORG-09)
A Certificate of Inspection (COI) needs to be endorsed before organic produce can be released into free circulation. It is a legal requirement under UK legislation for importers of organic produce to give advance notice in writing of the arrival of a consignment, this can be done via PHILIS.
Copies of Commercial documents-
- Invoice and or packing list
- Transport documents EURI
- Sea Waybill for deep sea trade.
A Certificate of Inspection (CoI) needs to be endorsed before organic produce can be released into free circulation. It is a legal requirement under GB legislation for importers of organic produce to give advance notice in writing of the arrival of a consignment as well as provide a copy of the original Certificate of Inspection. In essence this means that you will need to submit both the pre-notification and certificate to us no later than 6 working hours before the arrival of the goods (there is a special exemption for Ro-Ro and airfreight as opposed to the 24 hours pre-notification required for seaports).
Organic consignments that have not been pre-notified using the procedure detailed below will not have their Certificates of Inspection endorsed by Dover Port Health Authority.
The Organic Products Regulations 2009 makes it an offence to contravene the regulation relating to the advanced notification of organic consignments and such contraventions shall be reported to the appropriate Trading Standards department and to the DEFRA Organic Farming Branch.
At the end of the transition period (31 December 2020), Great Britain lost access to TRACES NT for the purpose of importing organic food and feed from third countries. An interim paper-based system is in place which requires consignments of organic produce to be accompanied with a GB Certificate of Inspection.
Links to the new GB certificate templates and guidance documents can be found below: (See useful Docs to access)
- GB Certificate of Inspection (CoI) template
- Step by step guidance for GB
- Importing Organic Food from the EU, EEA and Third Countries
The most significant changes to importing organic produce relate to:
- Box 2 on the CoI: this shows the organics regulations. The explanatory notes explain which box should be ticked depending on whether the third country is equivalent to GB or if they meet EU regulations.
Consignments leaving third countries before the end of the transition period will be accepted as long as they have an EU endorsed CoI on TRACES NT. Importers should notify ports that these consignments are arriving to avoid delays.
An electronic system is being developed to replace this interim system.
If you are an importer and/or an agent handling an organic import, which has not been endorsed by a Port Health Authority, you must:
- Pre-notify Dover Port Health Authority at least 6 working hours (Monday-Friday 09.00-17:00 hours) before the goods arrive by completing the Dover Port Health Authority online notification form. For further guidance on how to register/submit a pre-notification please refer to the PHILIS Pre-notification page.
- Attach a copy of both sides of the original Organic Certificate of inspection that has been signed and stamped by the issuing body and attach all supporting documents to the pre-notification or email these to firstname.lastname@example.org least 6 working hours in advance of its arrival.
- Dover Port Health Authority will only conduct the documentary verification once in receipt of the above documentation.
- If Dover Port Health Authority are satisfied that the Certificate of Inspection is complete, they will endorse the copy Certificate of Inspection and e-mail it back to the agent within 6 working hours (Monday-Friday 09.00-17:00 hours)
If you are importing selected organics produce into GB for 1 of the countries listed below, it will be subject to additional controls/ sampling for the presence of pesticides residues at the Port of entry into GB.
The countries concerned are:
Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Russian Federation, Moldova, Turkey and China.
Please note this also applies to products originating from one of these countries but arriving into GB via another third country.
Please see below for the details of which products are subject to these additional controls-. Chapter/ CN code details and corresponding Countries.
Chapter 10 – Cereals from China, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Russian Federation, Turkey and Ukraine
Chapter 11 – Products of the milling industry; malt; starches; inulin; wheat gluten. The following CN codes are excluded: 1105, 1106, 1107, 1108 & 1109 from China, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Russian Federation, Turkey and Ukraine
Chapter 12 – Oil seeds and oleaginous fruits; miscellaneous grains, seeds and fruit; industrial or medicinal plants; straw and fodder, with the exception of processed products ready for human consumption derived from them. The following CN codes are excluded: 1211, 1212, 1213 & 1214 from China, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Russian Federation, Turkey and Ukraine
Chapter 23 – Residues and waste from the food industries, prepared animal fodder. The following CN codes are excluded: 2307 from China, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Russian Federation, Turkey and Ukraine
CN code 0810 9075 – only Goji berries (Lycium barbarum and Lycium chinense) and products processed from them from China.
In practice this means that if you are importing one or more of the relevant products via Dover, when we commence our documentary checks, we will instruct you to deliver the products to the Cargo Port.
We will then undertake sampling. All products subject to additional controls are subject to 100% sampling for which charges apply.
The decision has been taken to delay the requirement for COIs for organic products from the EU, EEA and Switzerland until 1 February 2025 to allow more time to explore what potential improvements might be implemented to the existing processes.
The Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) stipulates that products must be produced or processed in the European Union to be accepted in Great Britain and vice versa. Although the requirement for Certificates of Inspection (COIs) has not been implemented for organic products imported from the EU, products must still adhere to the rules of the TCA. This has been included in guidance since we left the EU.
Any organic product imported into the EU from another third country has to be processed in the EU before it can be exported to GB. It cannot be imported into the EU and then exported to GB without processing (re-packing and re-labelling are not considered processed).
However, the UK-EU Trade and Co-Operation Agreement Annex 14: Organic Products must still be met; any organic product imported into the EU from another third country has to be processed in the EU before it can be exported to GB. It cannot be imported into the EU and then exported to GB without processing (re-packing and re-labelling are not considered processed).
Fees are payable for checking documentation and physical examination or sampling of consignments should it prove necessary.
Our current fees and charges can be found on our Port Health charges page.
Please email email@example.com to set up a payment account prior to the arrival of an Import.
1. If Dover Port Health Authority are not correctly notified?
The Certificate of Inspection will not be endorsed and the forwarding inland local authority, the DEFRA Organic Farming Branch and the relevant organic control body will be notified.
2. What happens if I do not pre-notify within the required working 6 hours?
You will be charged a late notification fee. Please note our current working hours are 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday.
3. What happens if I already have an endorsed (EU) COI?
Until further notice these consignments are not subject to our controls.
4. Does the address supplied in box 11 and box 12 need to be registered? Yes,
Yes, both addresses need to be registered for organic purposes with a UK controlled body (Both addresses can be the same).
5. Why is the delivery address important on the commercial document?
The address on the CMR will be compared to box 12 (the first consignee) and they must be the same.
6. What happens if my organic product is also on the high-risk register?
Please contact us for more information, before you commence pre-notification. firstname.lastname@example.org. Tel No 01304 872216.
7. What happens if the COI is incorrectly completed?
You will be asked to re-submit an amended COI.
8. May my consignment leave Dover before the COI has been endorsed?
This will trigger an inland referral to the relevant trading standards body to which the consignment is bound. This could lead to enforcement action, including the loss of organic status.
9. What happens if my consignment fails the checks?
Products which fail checks may be re-exported to a country outside the EU or relabelled under Trading Standards supervision where all references to the term ‘organic’ will have to be removed.