International Trade Policies: European Union

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

Scope. This equivalence arrangement is limited to direct trade  to or from the U.S. and EU. For U.S. exports to the EU, it is limited to products certified to the USDA organic regulations that have been produced or had their final processing occur within the U.S. For EU exports to the U.S., it is limited to products certified to the EU organic regulations that have been produced or had their final processing occur in an EU member state.

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

Terms of the Arrangement. 

Generally, USDA and EU certified organic products are eligible for trade under this equivalence, but there are some stipulations.

The following are additional requirements for EU 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. 
  • Wine labeled as “organic” must not contain sulfur dioxide, potassium metabisulfite, or other ingredients not allowed under the USDA organic regulations (7 CFR 205.605). If the EU control body verifies compliance with these requirements, the wine may make the “organic” claim and carry the USDA organic seal.
  • Certified wine containing sulfur dioxide and that is made with organic grapes may be exported to the U.S. but can only be labeled as “made with organic grapes.” The EU control body must verify that the wine’s total sulfite concentration does not exceed 100ppm. The USDA organic seal must not be used on the label.
  • All wine sold in the U.S. must be approved by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau. View application information.  

The following are additional requirements for U.S. certified organic products exported to the EU:

  • Apples and pears (and/or ingredients containing apples and pears) produced using antibiotics* (for fire blight control) may not be exported as organic to the EU. 

    Note: USDA removed streptomycin and tetracycline from the National List on October 21, 2014; they are no longer allowed. Streptomycin and tetracycline are synthetic substances that were previously allowed for use in organic crop production for the treatment of fire blight. There are currently no antibiotics on the National List approved for such use.
  • Organic wine and wine “made with organic grapes” may be exported to the EU under the arrangement if it meets the following criteria: 
  1. Contains 100 percent organic grapes and organic ingredients. Non-organic substances not allowed under 7 CFR 205.605 are prohibited. 
  2. Have been produced only using the winemaking practices and substances detailed in the EU organic regulations.
  • The EU does not recognize the USDA “100% organic” or “made with organic” label categories.  Therefore, all organic products eligible for export under the equivalence must contain 95% or greater organic content and only use an “organic” claim.

Trade Documentation.

Exports of USDA Organic Products. A USDA-accredited certifying agent (also called “control body”) must complete an electronic Certificate of Inspection through the EU’s Trade Control and Expert System (TRACES) for all USDA organic products traded under the arrangement. The European Union regulations require that the COI 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, risk being refused entry, seized, or destroyed by foreign port authorities.

U.S. Imports of EU Organic Products. . EU 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 EU-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.-EU Organic Equivalence Arrangement.”


USDA Organic Products exported to the EU. For retail products, labels or stickers must state the name of the U.S. certifying agent and may use the USDA Organic seal or the EU organic logo. Retail product labels must include the code that the EU has assigned to each USDA-accredited certifying agent, listed on the European Commission’s Organic Farming Information System (OFIS) website. Exported products must meet the labeling requirements of the EU. See resources below.

Products with less than 95% organic content (those that would qualify in the U.S. as “made with organic”), may display a percentage statement of organic content on the label, but may not be labeled with the EU organic logo or USDA organic seal. The EU does not have a “made with organic” labeling category.

Products certified in the U.S. as 100% organic may only be labeled as “organic” since the EU does not have a 100% organic category. These products may display either the EU organic logo and/or the USDA organic seal.

Bulk (non-retail) products must display lot numbers and must allow for a complete audit trail to verify the product’s integrity.

EU Organic Products exported to the U.S. For retail products, labels or stickers must state, “Certified Organic By (insert name of EU-authorized body) and may also include the code assigned to each EU-authorized body. Retail labels or stickers may use the USDA Organic seal and/or the EU organic logo. Exported products must meet the USDA organic labeling requirements.

Bulk (non-retail) products must display identification of the product as organic and the production lot number, shipping identification or other unique information that links the container to audit trail documentation.  The name of the EU-authorized certification body is not required to be stated on bulk containers. 

Oversight. The U.S. and EU assess each other’s organic oversight 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.- EU Equivalence Arrangement, the U.S. and EU have conducted mutual peer reviews. These assessments verify that both markets are meeting the terms of the arrangement.