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Importing Organic

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If you importing organic goods from a third country (i.e. non-EU) you will require certification under the Processor Scheme and an inspection of the business will be required as part of the organic certification process. We get a lot of requests for advice on this so here is a handy little guide put together with the help of the friendly people at OF&G.

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Suppliers and Control Bodies

The first step in the certification process is to identify the suppliers of the organic products you wish to import & trade and obtain their organic certificates and trading schedules.

Organic products imported from outside the EU must be organically certified by a Control Body recognised as operating to equivalent standards as those specified in EU regulations.

A simple Google search (“Organic Control Bodies [country]”) will pull up a list of control bodies in the country you are operating in. however, if you would like to submit your suppliers certificates to OF&G they will check that the control body is certified to EU standards and the Certificate meets organic regulations.

An EC Certificate of Inspection must be available for every consignment to be imported in to the UK. The EC Certificate of Inspection is supplied by the organic control body certifying the supplier / exporter in the country of origin. If you are importing, you would normally request a EC Certificate of Inspection from your supplier when you place an order.

Point of Entry

The original EC Certificate of Inspection must be presented to the relevant authorities, i.e. Duty Officer at the port, for endorsement before the product can be released; they will not sign a copy. The original EC Certificate of Inspection can be sent to your shipping agent / freight forwarder for them to present to the authorities if you wish. The authorities at the port or airport will require pre-notification of the arrival of the organic goods and you should check with the individual authority as to how much notice they require, the notice period is normally 24–48 hrs. We suggest you also check the procedures they follow (freight forwarders should also be familiar with the process). The relevant authority will endorse the reverse of the Certificate in Section 17.

NB. If the Certificate of Inspection is not endorsed by the relevant authority the import is not deemed legal and the organic goods may lose their organic status. Logistics

When the goods arrive, the ‘first consignee’ (i.e. the warehouse or another nominate person) must check the goods are as ordered and that the consignment is intact and has not been opened. Once they are satisfied everything is on order the first consignee must sign section 18 of the EC Certificate of Inspection as confirmation that the checks have been done. You will need to store your goods with an organically certified warehouse, preferably someone who will not only be able to store but also distribute your goods for you. Stowga can connect you with the right partner anywhere in the UK based on your requirements and preferences for location.

N.B. The original EC Certificate of Inspection must be kept available for inspection together with the shipping documents / Bill of Lading that accompany the goods.

Timing

The time frame for progressing your application is about 6–8 weeks from receipt of your application form and fee payment until your first inspection. The inspection report is then assessed and a Compliance Notice is issued (usually within 2–3 weeks). You may have to provide some further information to complete the Certification process. The length of time this process takes depends on how quickly you can send the information to OF&G (or whichever certification partner you choose). Some operators submit the information requested within a couple of weeks, other operators take longer.

As an importer, your inspection will be paper based and will focus on the organic procedures you have in place for importing and should cover detailed steps for the correct completion of the EC Certificate of Inspection as this is a key requirement for importing organic goods.

Fees

The organic certification fee is an annual certification fee. Fees are banded and are based on operators annual turnover. The fee includes the inspection, report assessment and artwork approvals (where relevant) to meet organic requirements. There is no additional application fee or charge for the addition of new products throughout the year. Please note that OF&G operate a direct debit operation to spread the cost of the certification fee throughout the year.

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Further Information

You can access all of the OF&G literature, including a Processor application pack, via the OF&G website (http://ofgorganic.org). Alternatively if you would like to talk to a specialist specifically about the logistics side please email us at hello@stowga.com

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