International Trade Policies: Canada

The United States (U.S.) has an equivalence arrangement with Canada. This means that as long as the terms of the arrangement are met, organic operations certified to the USDA organic or Canada Organic Regime standards may be labeled and sold as organic in both countries. Equivalency FAQs (pdf)

Organic Standards

Scope. The equivalence arrangement includes all USDA organic products, whether they are produced and certified in the U.S. or around the world. USDA-authorized certifying agents may not certify Canada-based operations to USDA organic standards.

Certifying Agents Accredited by:

Production requirements for USDA organic products. In order to be sold, labeled, or represented as organic in Canada, USDA organic products must meet the following additional requirements:
  • Agricultural products produced with the use of sodium nitrate shall not be sold or marketed as organic in Canada.

  • Agricultural products produced by hydroponic or aeroponic production methods shall not be sold or marketed as organic in Canada.

  • Agricultural products derived from animals (with the exception of ruminants) must be produced according to livestock stocking rates as set out in CAN /CGSB32.310-2006.

Production requirements for organic products from Canada. In order to be sold, labeled, or represented as organic in U.S., Canadian organic products must meet the following additional requirements:

  • Agricultural products derived from animals treated with antibiotics shall not be marketed as organic in the United States.

Documentation. Certifiers must verify compliance to the terms of the U.S.-Canada organic equivalence and include the following attestation statement on organic certificates for USDA organic products exported to Canada:

“Certified in compliance with the terms of the US-Canada Organic Equivalency Arrangement”.
See requirements for USDA organic products exported to Canada outlined on the Government of Canada website
Labeling requirements. For retail products, labels or stickers must state the name of the U.S. or Canadian certifying agent and may use the USDA Organic seal or the Canada Organic Biologique logo. All product labels must be in English and French. Wholesale products only require lot numbers. Please review the Canadian labeling requirements provided below.

Labeling Requirements:

Mandatory information must be shown in both English and French. This includes core labeling requirements such as common name and other requirements found in legislation regarding bilingual declaration on the Principal Display Panel.

Regarding the bilingual labeling in Canada, please refer to the Bilingual Labelling page of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency website.

Also, according to section 21 of the Organic Products Regulations, any claim or statement referred to in sections 24 and 25 must be in English and French (see below for exceptions). The claims and statements in sections 24 and 25 cover the expressions “organic”, the percentage organic ingredients declaration, the name of the certification body and the “Product of”/”Imported” statement.

The following are exceptions and can be labeled in one  language (French or English):

  • The identify and principal place of business of the person by or form whom the prepackaged product was manufactured, processed, produced or packaged for resale, may be in either English or French [B.01.012(9), FDR; 6(2), CPLR].
  • The common name of certain alcoholic beverages, if they appear on the Principal Display Panel exactly as shown in B.01.012(10), FDR.

Technical Working Group. The members of this group work towards consensus on the evolving details of the arrangement, making recommendations to the steering committee. This work includes identifying any variances between the two standards that would require attestations.

Membership: Canadian Food Inspection Agency, Canada Organic Office, and USDA National Organic Program (NOP).
Steering Committee. The members of this committee make the final decisions on the terms of the equivalency arrangement.  Membership: Office of the United States Trade Representative, USDA Foreign Agricultural Service, Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, and Canadian Food Inspection Agency.
Peer Reviews. Since the establishment of the U.S.- Canada Equivalency Arrangement in June 2009, the NOP and Canada Organic Office have conducted mutual peer reviews. These assessments verify that both markets are meeting the terms of the arrangement.

NOP Assessment of Canada Organic Office

Canada Organic Office Assessment of NOP

Historical Documents

Equivalency Amendment: Letter to U.S. (pdf)
Equivalency Arrangement: Letter to: Canada (pdf) | U.S. (pdf)

Contact Information

Canada Organic Office