Japan Exports – US/Japan Equivalence Arrangement

Operations located in the United States and certified to the National Organic Program (NOP) can ship to Japan through the US/Japan Equivalence Arrangement. The arrangement recognizes the NOP standards and Japanese Agricultural Standards (JAS) as equivalent, with no critical variances. The USDA NOP and the Japan Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries (MAFF) signed the historic organic standards equivalence arrangement on September 26, 2013, which went in to effect on January 1, 2014.

Additionally, in 2013, MAFF also created new opportunities for the use of Japan’s organic seal, called the “JAS seal.”

Achieve compliance verification to the US/Japan Equivalence Arrangement by enrolling in the Global Market Access (GMA) program for Japan. Send a completed GMA application to inbox@ccof.org to enroll in the program!

You need to enroll in the GMA program for Japan if you:

  • Want to maximize market opportunities and ensure your products will be accepted by most foreign markets and buyers
  • Export CCOF certified organic products to Japan from the United States
  • Design labels for products that will be sold in Japan
  • Sell CCOF certified organic products to any buyer who requires international verification certification

Terms of the US/Japan Equivalence Arrangement

  • Product from the United States certified to NOP standards will be recognized as equivalent to the JAS organic standards and may be shipped to Japan and marketed as organic as long as the arrangement terms are met.
  • Product from Japan that is certified to the JAS organic standard may be shipped to the United States and use the USDA NOP logo as long as the arrangement terms are met.
  • Products must be either produced within the United States or Japan, or have final processing or packaging occur within the United States or Japan. Use of the USDA organic seal is voluntary, while use of the JAS seal is mandatory. The JAS seal may be applied in Japan by a JAS-certified importer or applied by U.S. companies through a consignment contract with a JAS-certified importer.
  • Product labels must comply with destination market labeling regulations. Visit our Labeling and Logos page for guidance.
  • Exported product from either location must be accompanied by an export certificate.

Exclusions to the US/Japan Equivalence Arrangement

  • Livestock, alcohol, and non-food processed products are not covered under this arrangement.

Additional Equivalence Arrangement Resources

Labeling Requirements and Use of the JAS Seal

CCOF has developed a helpful International Market Labeling Guide to explain labeling requirements for organic products sold in Japan. All products shipped to Japan must meet the JAS labeling requirements. Send all labels to CCOF for approval prior to printing. To learn more, read MAFF’s JAS labeling requirements.

Learn more about international labeling requirements by visiting CCOF's Labeling and Logos page. Use of the JAS seal is required for all organic products.

U.S. exporters can meet the JAS labeling requirements in three ways.

  1. JAS Seal Consignment Contract with a JAS certified importer
  • Sign the consignment contract with your JAS certified importer to apply the JAS seal directly to your products in the United States.
  • CCOF can help you navigate the consignment contract and provide required reporting under the JAS system. Note, the JAS seal is unique to each JAS certifier.
  1. JAS certified importer applies the JAS seal in Japan
  • Export the product without the JAS seal and have the JAS-certified importer apply the seal once it reaches Japan, before sale.
  1. Direct JAS certification through a JAS accredited certifier
  • CCOF has an inspection partnership with a JAS accredited certifier that can offer certification to the JAS standard directly, giving you access to your own JAS seal.
  • If you are interested in JAS certification contact export@ccof.org.
  • CCOF has observed that this option is time consuming and costly and does not recommend it.

JAS Seal Consignment Contract

Sign the JAS Seal Consignment Contract with your JAS certified importer to apply the JAS seal directly to your USDA NOP certified products in the United States. Under this contract system, a U.S. exporter must identify a responsible employee, demonstrate compliance with the contract training, and maintain records of the number of seals used for each shipment to Japan.

With enrollment in the GMA Japan export program, CCOF staff will guide you through the Consignment Contract process and facilitate maintenance of the required records. CCOF has analyzed the process and provides a variety of tools and processes based on MAFF’s instructions. See below.

Consignment Contract Process and Graphic

  1. Contact your JAS-certified importer in Japan and sign the JAS Seal Consignment Contract. Send a copy of the signed contract to CCOF.
  2. Complete the training for attaching JAS seals and send the signed documents to your importer for their records. Send a copy to CCOF.
  3. Your importer will send their JAS seal for you to use on your products.
  • Each JAS seal is specific to the importer’s certifier, so you must be careful to apply the correct seal if you have multiple contracts.
  • You are only allowed to apply the JAS seal on products destined to the specific importer you have subcontracted with.
  1. Submit the new labels for international sales to CCOF.
  2. Apply the JAS seal to the products that your importer has requested.
  3. Use the Report of Attached JAS Seals to document how many seals were used for each shipment. Send this document to CCOF with your Japan TM-11 export certificate request.
  4. Send the CCOF-issued Japan TM-11 export certificate and the report of attached JAS seals with each shipment. CCOF will keep copies of these documents for your recordkeeping requirement.