International Trade Policies: Switzerland

The United States (U.S.) has an organic equivalence arrangement with Switzerland. The equivalence arrangement grants USDA certified organic products access to Switzerland’s market and grants Swiss certified organic products access to the U.S. market. This means that organic products certified to either the USDA or Switzerland organic standards may be labeled and sold as organic in both countries, as long as the products meet the terms of the arrangement.

Scope. This equivalence arrangement is limited to country-to-country trade. For U.S. exports to Switzerland, the arrangement is limited to products certified to the USDA organic regulations that are produced or have had their final processing occur within the United States. For Switzerland’s exports to the U.S., the arrangement is limited to products certified to the Swiss organic ordinances that are produced or have had their final processing occur in Switzerland.

Allowed product categories: Crops, Wild Crops, Livestock, Processed Products.

Terms of the Arrangement. Generally, USDA and Swiss certified organic products are eligible for trade under this equivalence, but there are some stipulations.

  • Wine must be produced and labeled according to the organic regulations of the destination country.

Requirements for Swiss certified organic products exported to the U.S.:

  • Agricultural products derived from animals treated with antibiotics shall not be sold, labeled, or represented as organic in the U.S.
  • Aquatic animals (e.g., fish, shellfish) are not included in the equivalence arrangement and are not eligible to use the USDA organic seal.

Trade Documentation.

Exports of USDA Organic Products. A USDA-accredited certifying agent (also called a “control body”) must complete a Certificate of Inspection (COI) through the European Union’s TRACES for all USDA organic products exported to Switzerland under the arrangement. The COI must be issued by the USDA-accredited certifying agent at the moment the consignment leaves the U.S. port of export.

Shipments of USDA organic products that leave the U.S. port without a COI, or with a COI is issued after departure, run the risk of the foreign port authorities refusing entry to, seizing, or destroying the goods.

U.S. Imports of Swiss Organic Products. Swiss organic products imported to the U.S. under the arrangement must be associated with an electronic organic import certificate, called the NOP Import Certificate. NOP Import Certificates are generated by Swiss-accredited certifying agents in the NOP’s GLOBAL Organic Integrity Database.

The documentation must include this statement:

“Certified in compliance with the terms of the U.S.-Switzerland Organic Equivalence Arrangement.”

Labeling. Products traded under this arrangement must meet the labeling requirements in the destination country and may display the USDA organic seal. For Swiss retail products destined for the U.S., the labels must state the name of the Swiss certifying agent. There is no Swiss organic seal.

Oversight. The U.S. and Switzerland assess each other’s systems on a regular basis to ensure that the terms of the arrangement are being met and equivalence is maintained. Both parties notify each other of any changes which could affect the terms of the arrangement. Any concerns are addressed by the Organic Working Group, which meets regularly and includes experts from both countries.

Peer Reviews. Since the establishment of the U.S.- Switzerland Equivalence Arrangement, the U.S. and Switzerland have conducted mutual peer reviews. These assessments verify that both markets are meeting the terms of the arrangement.

Peer Review Reports:

Historical Documents

Equivalency Arrangement: Letter to USDA (pdf)
Equivalency Arrangement: Letter to Swiss FOAG (pdf)
Equivalency announcement: Press Release