Canadian Exports and Imports

Exporting to Canada

If you would like to export organic products to Canada, CCOF can help. On July 1, 2008, the USDA National Organic Program (NOP) and the Canadian Organic Regime (COR) signed a historic organic standards equivalency agreement.

Under the terms of this agreement:

  • Product from anywhere in the world certified to NOP standards may be shipped to Canada and use the Canadian Organic Logo so long as the product meets three critical variances and is shipped along with an attestation statement.
  • Product from anywhere in the world certified to Canadian standards may be shipped to the United States and use the USDA NOP logo as long as the product meets the critical variance.
  • Product certified to NOP standards is not required to become certified to COR standards. Likewise, Canadian organic products certified to COR standards anywhere in the world may be sold or labeled as organic in the United States.
  • Both the USDA Organic Seal and the Canadian Organic Logo may be used on certified products from both countries, in addition to the certifier’s logo.

You need to enroll in the Global Market Access (GMA) program for Canada if you do any of the following:

  • Want to maximize market opportunities and ensure your products will be accepted by most foreign markets and buyers.
  • Export CCOF certified organic products to Canada from any location. 
  • Design labels for products that will be sold in Canada.
  • Grow crops that appear on CCOF’s list of high risk crops, such as carrots, potatoes, or leafy greens that are exported to Canada or used in products that are exported in Canada.
  • Make products containing ingredients that come from crops that are on CCOF’s list of high risk crops.
  • Raise non-ruminant livestock, or make livestock products from non-ruminant livestock, that are exported to Canada.
  • Sell CCOF certified organic products to any buyer who requires international verification certification.

Learn more about the Global Market Access program.

Labeling Requirements for Organic Products Sold in Canada (back to top)

CCOF has developed a helpful International Market Labeling Guide to explain labeling requirements for organic products sold in Canada. These requirements apply whether the product originates from outside or inside Canada. All products shipped to Canada under the U.S.-Canada Organic Equivalency Agreement must meet the COR labeling requirements. Submit all labels to CCOF for approval prior to printing.

Download the COR logo. Use of the COR logo is optional for imported products. Additional information on labeling is available from CFIA.

Canadian Imports (back to top)

Would you like to import Canadian organic products or use COR-certified ingredients in your products? Canadian organic products sold in the United States or used as ingredients must meet the following requirements:

  • Livestock products must be produced without antibiotics as attested by suppliers or supplier certifiers.
  • Products must meet USDA NOP labeling requirements.

Information for USDA NOP Certified Operations Shipping Products to Canada (back to top)

Critical Variances (back to top)

Any NOP-certified product sold as organic in Canada must meet Canadian labeling requirements and the following three critical variances:

  • All products must not be produced using sodium nitrate (Chilean nitrate).
  • All products must not be produced using hydroponic or aeroponic methods.
  • All non-ruminant animal products must be from animals that were raised according to the livestock stocking rates as set forth in the Canadian Standard (CAN/CGSB 32.310-2006).

Attestation Requirements (back to top)

All NOP-certified products crossing the border into Canada must be accompanied by an attestation statement that the product has been produced in compliance with the terms of the U.S.-Canada Organic Equivalency Arrangement, including meeting the three critical variances described above. This attestation statement must be included on accompanying documents or packaging for ALL shipments of organic products exported to Canada from the United States. Products that do not have accompanying documentation with this statement may be refused entry into Canada.

If you are a CCOF certified operation, there are two ways for you to provide the required attestation statement:

  1. Enroll in the CCOF Global Market Access program and request review to the U.S.-Canada Organic Equivalency Arrangement. CCOF will then review your products to verify that they meet the terms of the equivalency arrangement. The required attestation statement will appear on your Global Market Access (GMA) certificate. To ensure smooth export of your product, you will want to provide your GMA certificate with shipment documentation. Clients enrolled in the CCOF GMA program who are requested to provide verification by Canadian buyers of U.S.-Canada Organic Equivalency should contact canada@ccof.org.
  2. Complete the Attestation Document. According to the terms of the U.S.-Canada Organic Equivalency Arrangement, the attestation statement does not need to be provided by the certifier (CCOF). This statement may be made by the members of the supply chain. If you have reason to believe that your product meets the terms of the arrangement, you may complete this attestation document and provide it to Canadian border authorities as requested.

Critical Variance Risk Assessment for Equivalency (back to top)

Two of the critical variances that must be verified before NOP-certified product may be sold as organic in Canada are the use of sodium nitrate and hydroponic/aeroponic methods in crop production. CCOF researched the use of sodium nitrate, as well as hydroponic and aeroponic growing systems, and found that there are many crops (such as apples, coffee, or grapes) that have little risk of being prohibited due to use of these production practices.

To ensure that the U.S.-Canada Organic Equivalency Arrangement verification process is as simple and efficient as possible, CCOF created a list of crops that are at risk of being grown using one of the prohibited production techniques. For any of the crops listed below in the "high risk" category, CCOF will verify that they were grown without the use of sodium nitrate and/or hydroponic or aeroponic production before we issue a Canadian equivalency verification document.

CCOF will not seek additional documentation that crops we have identified as “no risk” comply with the terms of the U.S.-Canada Organic Equivalency Arrangement. All livestock products from non-ruminants, such as eggs from poultry, must be verified as having met the stocking density critical variance.

CCOF has identified the following crops as at risk of being grown using sodium nitrate, and will require additional information prior to verifying equivalency with Canadian requirements:

  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Cole crops, including kale, collards, etc.
  • Fresh tomatoes
  • Greenhouse crops, including tomatoes
  • Leafy greens
  • Livestock feed crops produced in the Midwest
  • Onions
  • Potatoes
  • Winter citrus from the Southeast United States
  • Winter vegetables, including broccoli, cauliflower, etc.

Crops considered high risk for hydroponic or aeroponic production:

  • Greenhouse crops, including herbs and tomatoes

Verifying Compliance at Your Inspection (back to top)

To verify compliance of at risk crops and non-ruminant animal products, CCOF will look for the following at your inspection:

  • CCOF grower clients must be prepared to demonstrate through production records that raw produce sold in Canada did not receive any applications of sodium nitrate after July 1, 2009. The equivalency agreement includes provisions to allow the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) to conduct audits and other verifications to ensure compliance with these requirements.
  • CCOF handler clients may utilize affidavits or attestation statements signed by suppliers or supplier certifiers, or documentation of compliance on client profiles or certificates.

Exclusions (back to top)

Products outside the scope of the Canadian Organic Regime, such as pet food, personal care products, and aquaculture products (nori, spirulina, chlorella, kelp) may not be exported from the U.S. to Canada under this equivalency arrangement. NOP-certified products outside the scope of COR may be sold in Canada as NOP certified without additional verification or reference to COR.

Additional Equivalency Agreement Information (back to top)