United-States-Canada Organic Equivalence Arrangement (USCOEA) - Overview

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On June 17, 2009, Canada and the United States (U.S.) entered into an arrangement recognizing our national organic systems as equivalent.

1. U.S. Import Requirements

1.1 Canadian organic products covered under the scope of the USCOEA

The following Canadian organic products are covered under this arrangement and may bear the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Organic seal in order to be sold in the U.S.:

  1. Live or unprocessed agricultural products and vegetative propagating material and seeds for cultivation;
  2. Processed agricultural products for use as food;
  3. Feed.

These products may, in addition, use the Canada organic logo.

Canadian organic products exported to the U.S. under the USCOEA must be accompanied by a valid organic certificate issued by a Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) accredited certification body that includes the following attestation statement, "Certified in compliance with the terms of the U.S.-Canada Organic Equivalency Arrangement".

1.2 Canadian organic agricultural products outside the scope of the USCOEA

Any animal or edible product derived from any animal treated with antibiotics is prohibited from being sold, labeled or represented as organic in the U.S. market.

1.3 U.S. Labelling Requirements

All organic products covered by this arrangement and imported into the U.S. must comply with USDA organic labeling regulations. For more information see Organic Labeling – Agricultural Marketing Service.

The United States Department of Agriculture's (USDA) organic seal can be downloaded from the National Organic Program web page. Use of the organic seal is voluntary and its use, either alone or with the Canada organic logo, is permitted provided the organic content of the product is 95% or greater.

2. Canada's Import Requirements

2.1 U.S. organic products covered under the scope of the USCOEA

In the letter from Canada to the U.S. of June 17, 2009, Canada acknowledged that agricultural products for use as vegetative propagating material, food, and feed produced, processed and certified as organic in accordance with the USDA National Organic Program (NOP), are considered equivalent to the requirements of the Canadian Organic Products Regulations, 2009.

The arrangement covers the accreditation system of both regulations in its geographical entirety meaning that agricultural products certified in accordance with the terms of the US-Canada Organic Equivalency Arrangement (USCOEA) are eligible to be sold as organic in both countries. The product being traded under this arrangement does not have to originate within either country.

U.S. organic products imported to Canada must be accompanied by an organic certificate issued by a U.S. accredited certifying agent listed in the Organic Certifying Agents List (PDF 301 kb), and a document which has the following attestation statement: "Certified in compliance with the terms of the US-Canada Organic Equivalency Arrangement".

This statement is required and serves to attest the fact that products crossing borders have been verified as meeting the terms of the USCOEA. The attestation statement may be included on the organic certificate, transaction certificate, bill of lading, purchase order, or any other affirmative attestation. The operator may provide this attestation, or may request that a certifier do so.

The USDA-NOP has published the Policy Memorandum: Attestation Statement for agricultural products that meet the terms of the U.S.-Canadian Equivalence Arrangement (PDF 1.09 MB) regarding the statement.

2.2 U.S. produced organic agricultural products outside the scope of the USCOEA

  1. Agricultural products produced with the use of sodium nitrate shall not be sold or marketed as organic in Canada.
  2. Agricultural products produced by hydroponic or aeroponic production methods shall not be sold or marketed as organic in Canada.
  3. Agricultural products derived from animals must be produced according to livestock stocking rates as set out in the most recent version of CAN/CGSB-32.310 and CAN/CGSB-32.310.

2.3 Canada's Labelling Requirements

All U.S. organic products imported into Canada must meet Canadian organic labelling requirements and may bear the Canada Organic logo. The logo must be requested from the USDA accredited certification body responsible for the certification. Use of the Canada organic logo is voluntary and its use, either alone or with the USDA's organic seal, is permitted provided the organic content of the product is 95% or greater. The Canada organic logo is available to producers through USDA accredited certifying agents. All foods imported to Canada must meet all regulatory requirements applicable to the food.

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