Great Britain – Organics: Organic certificate of inspection process from 1 January 2021 (2020-07)

Date of issue: 4 December 2020

Date of effect: Immediate

Reference Number: MAA 2020-07

Attention:

  • Organic Producers and Exporters, Organic certifying bodies, Industry bodies
  • Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment—Central and Regional offices

Purpose

To inform the organic industry about the Certificate of Inspection for Import of Products from Organic Production into Great Britain (GB COI), which must be used for all goods declared as organic and imported into Great Britain from 1 January 2021.

Key Points

Introduction of Great Britain’s COI on 1 January 2021:

  • From 1 January 2021, a GB COI system will be required for organic goods exported to Great Britain.
  • A hardcopy GB COI will be required to be sent to the relevant Port Health Authority in Great Britain in order to complete the import clearance process.
  • The GB COI will require signing by an Approved Certifying Organisation prior to export from Australia.

Access changes to the TRACES NT system:

  • From 1 January 2021, border officials in Great Britain will lose access to TRACES NT.
  • For consignments arriving after 1 January 2021, the importer in Great Britain will need to complete import documentation outside of TRACES NT.
  • The import documentation and original hardcopy GB COI will then need to be provided to the relevant Great Britain Port Health Authority.

Process for organic goods certified prior to and arriving on/after 1 January 2021

  • Organic goods for export to Great Britain can continue to be certified using the EU COI process until 31 December 2020.
  • TRACES NT can be used for documents that are certified up to and including 31 December 2020.
  • Importers in Great Britain will need to complete import documentation outside of TRACES NT from 1 January 2021 onwards.

Background

On 31 January 2020, the United Kingdom (UK) withdrew from the European Union (EU) under a Withdrawal Agreement, which provided a transition period in which EU legislation continued to apply in the UK. This transition period is due to end on 31 December 2020. Following the end of the transition period, the EU’s current organic regulations (Council Regulation (EC) 834/2007 and Council Regulations (EC) 889/2008 and 1235/2008) will be retained in the domestic legal framework in the UK, although with minor amendment to ensure they are operable.

The organics regime that will be applicable in Great Britain following the end of the transition period will be the retained EU organics regulations. Great Britain’s organic regime commences on 1 January 2021, including the requirements for a GB COI.

The Northern Ireland/Ireland Protocol to the Withdrawal Agreement will also come into effect on 1 January 2021. Organic Regulations which are applicable in the EU will be directly applicable in Northern Ireland. An EU COI via TRACES NT will continue to be required for organic goods exported to Northern Ireland.  

GB COI process for export from Australia

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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

  1. 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.
  2. If the consignment is to be split, the importer shall submit an extract of the certificate of inspection to the relevant PHA.
  3. 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).
  4. If the goods are cleared, the importer shall indicate the number of the GB COI in the customs declaration for free circulation.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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 provided by the UK Government Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

Download

​Document Pages File size
Certificate of inspection for import of products from organic production into Great Britain template DOCX  2 24 KB

Please note: This template was not prepared by the department and may not meet Australian Government accessibility guidelines. If you require an accessible version of the publication, please contact its author.

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:

  • 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.

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. 

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 Great Britain.

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

[expand all]

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:

  1. re-labelled, removing all reference to organics
  2. re-exported as non-organic OR
  3. destroyed

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.

Further information

Contact organicexports@awe.gov.au or ExportStandards@awe.gov.au if you have any queries.

The information provided in this advice is current at the time of writing and is intended for use as guidance only and should not be taken as definitive or exhaustive. The Commonwealth endeavours to keep information current and accurate, however, it may be subject to change without notice. Exporters are encouraged to verify these details with their importers prior to undertaking production/exports. The Commonwealth will not accept liability for any loss resulting from reliance on information contained in this notice.

Last reviewed: 4 December 2020
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