The United States has an equivalence arrangement with Canada. The equivalence arrangement grants USDA certified organic products access to Canada’s market and grants Canada Organic Regime (COR) certified organic products access to the U.S. market. Certified products may be labeled and sold as organic in both countries if the product meets the terms of the arrangement.
Scope. The scope indicates what products are eligible for trade under the arrangement.
To be eligible, USDA certified organic products must:
- Be raised in the United States;
- Have final processing or packaging occur within the United States; or
- Be produced or have the final processing or packaging occur within a third country compliant with Canada’s requirements under equivalence.
To be eligible, COR certified organic products must:
- Be raised in Canada;
- Have final processing or packaging occur within Canada; or
- Be produced or have the final processing or packaging occur within a third country that complies with the terms of this arrangement.
Product categories allowed under equivalence: Crops, Wild Crops, Livestock, Processed Products.
Terms of the Arrangement
Generally, all USDA and COR certified organic products are eligible for trade under this equivalence, but there are some stipulations.
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 the Canadian organic regulations, CAN /CGSB32.310-2006.
- The U.S.-Canada equivalence arrangement does not extend to the USDA recognition agreements with India, Israel and New Zealand. USDA organic products certified by India, Israel and New Zealand accredited certification bodies are for direct export to the U.S. only. See the Government of Canada website for more information.
- Aquatic plants are eligible for USDA organic certification under the crop standards (Policy Memo 12-1) and may be sold or marketed as organic in Canada.
COR organic products. In order to be sold, labeled, or represented as organic in the U.S., COR organic products must meet the following additional requirements:
- Agricultural products derived from animals treated with antibiotics shall not be marketed as organic in the U.S.
Exports of USDA Organic Products. U.S. organic products exported to Canada must be accompanied by an organic certificate issued by a USDA-accredited certifying agent recognized under the terms of the U.S.-Canada equivalence arrangement. The organic certificate issued by the USDA certifying agent must include the following attestation statement:
“Certified in accordance with the terms of the U.S.-Canada Organic Equivalency Arrangement.”
See requirements for USDA organic products exported to Canada outlined on the Government of Canada website.
Imports of COR Organic Products.
COR organic products exported to the U.S. must be accompanied by an organic certificate issued by a COR-accredited certifying agent recognized under the terms of the U.S.-Canada equivalence arrangement. The organic certificate issued by the COR certifying agent must include the following attestation statement:
“Certified in compliance with the terms of the U.S.-Canada Organic Equivalency Arrangement.”
For all COR-certified organic products produced and/or handled in India that are exported to the U.S.:
- COR certifiers and operations are responsible for verifying the organic integrity of all shipments coming into the U.S. under the equivalency arrangement. TraceNet certificates are a Government of India requirement (pdf) for products to be exported as organic, and are an important tool in this verification.
- The NOP Import Certificate, currently required for all certified USDA organic products imported to the U.S. from India, is also an important tool that can help assess compliance. The NOP Import Certificate will become mandatory for all imports with the implementation of the now-published Strengthening Organic Enforcement final rule.
- COR certifiers and operations are also expected to require any other documentation necessary to demonstrate compliance of the full supply chain, which may include COR and USDA organic certificates, and other supply chain documentation (e.g., load quantities, lot numbers, production sources, other supply chain records), and the required TraceNet certificates.
For more information about importing organic products from India to the U.S., see the NOP’s International Trade Policies: India webpage
USDA Organic Certifying Agents
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 logo. All product labels for USDA exports to Canada must be in English and French. Please review the Canadian labeling requirements provided below.
COR Labeling Requirements and Canada Organic Logo
NOP Trade Determinations, Oversight and Historical Documents
Learn more about USDA organic equivalence
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).
Peer Reviews. Since the establishment of the U.S.- Canada Equivalence 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
September 2018 – this link takes you to an external website.
Equivalency Amendment: Letter to U.S. (pdf)
Equivalency Arrangement Letter to: Canada (pdf) | U.S. (pdf)
Canada Organic Office