The Houses of Parliament, London, on a sunny August morning

COI requirements for organic products 

13 September 2023

On 29 August 2023, the UK government published the final version of the post-Brexit Border Target Operating Model, which sets out the government’s model for importing goods into the UK from countries inside and outside the EU.      

What is the Border Target Operating Model?    

This applies to imports of live animals, germinal products, animal products, plants and plant products from all countries into Great Britain, and describes the implementation of new security and biosecurity controls on imports from the EU.

The main limitation of the Border Target Operating Model

Unfortunately, it does not provide any detail with regard to the requirements for the entry and importation of organic products into the UK.

What are the current rules for importing organic goods?    

Currently, organic products that the UK exports to the EU must be accompanied by a so-called Certificate of Inspection (COI), a document certifying that shipped goods have been inspected and that they conform with the terms stated on the sales contract. In contrast, organic products that are imported from the EU, European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland into the UK do not yet require such a COI.

The deadline for COIs has been pushed back to 2025

According to the newly published Border Target Operating Model, imports of organic products into GB from the EU, EEA and Switzerland would have required COIs from 31 December 2023.

However, DEFRA announced on 1 September 2023 that this timeline is incorrect and that the requirement for COIs for organic products from the EU, EEA and Switzerland has, again, been delayed until 1 February 2025.

Why has the deadline for COIs been delayed?

The grace period until 1 February 2025 allows businesses to continue importing and trading organic products coming from the EU, EEA and Switzerland without requiring a COI. Products must still adhere to Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) requirements and other rules under the post-Brexit EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement.

It’s important to note that imports into GB from all other countries already require a GB paper-based COI. The COI template has recently been updated and has been required for all imports into the UK (except from the EU, EEA and Switzerland) since 1 September 2023.

Make sure your business is prepared for COI requirements and other post-Brexit changes

If you think your business might be impacted by the Border Target Operating Model or other post-Brexit developments, get in touch with us today.

We can also help you with other customs and international trade related matters, as well as operational support with the lodging of UK import and export declarations.