Exporting organic products to the European Union (EU), Northern Ireland and Switzerland
A certificate of inspection is required to export organic products to the EU, Northern Ireland or Switzerland under the Official Organic Assurance Programme. Find out about the process to get a certificate of inspection.
Certificate of inspection requirements
Organic products can only be exported under the Official Organic Assurance Programme (OOAP) to the EU or Switzerland if they have a certificate of inspection (COI). COIs are issued by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) through the EU Trade Control and Expert System. The system is referred to as TRACES-NT.
You must have a COI for each consignment of organic products. This must be issued on or before the date your consignment leaves New Zealand.
You will need a recognised agency to participate in the OOAP. OOAP recognised agencies are organic certification bodies that are recognised by MPI, such as AsureQuality or BioGro. Your recognised agency will:
- validate your use of TRACES-NT
- verify your consignments are eligible for a COI.
From 1 January 2021, a COI issued through TRACES-NT is not required for exports to Great Britain.
However, under the Brexit Northern Ireland Protocol, Northern Ireland will remain aligned with EU organic product export requirements. The COI will continue to be issued through TRACES-NT.
Get a TRACES-NT COI
To get a COI, you need a TRACES-NT account. If you haven't got an account you will need to set one up.
Set up a TRACES-NT account
The TRACES-NT website has instructions to help you set up your account and use the TRACES-NT system. Internet Explorer may not display TRACES-NT correctly, so we recommend using another web browser.
To set up an account, you'll need to:
- get an EU login
- request a user profile
- request registration of your organic exporter business
- get validated by your recognised agency
- request registration of your organic producer suppliers, if they're not already registered.
Get an EU login
To get an EU login in TRACES-NT, follow these instructions:
Request a user profile
To request a user profile in TRACES-NT, follow these instructions:
Request registration of your organic exporter business
As part of the process to request a user access, you will have to identify the "organic exporter" business you work for.
If the business you work for already exists in TRACES-NT, search for this using the search function. You can search by country and section (organic exporter). When you have found the right business registration, select this as part of request for a user access profile.
If the business you work for does not exist in TRACES-NT (for example, if you are the first person from your organic exporting business to register in TRACES-NT) you will need to create a profile for the business. When prompted to register an activity in TRACES-NT, select "organic exporter" from the dropdown list. If you don't know if your business is already registered, you can search for it in TRACES-NT. Search by section (organic exporter) and country.
To request registration of your organic exporter business, follow these instructions:
Get validated by your recognised agency
Your recognised agency will need to validate your request for a user access profile. Email your agency to let them know you have applied.
Log in to TRACES-NT to check whether your profile has been validated.
Request registration of your suppliers (organic producers)
Your suppliers are the final operators who had responsibility for the products you are exporting, or supplied them to you. They need to have an "organic producer" profile registered in TRACES-NT, but suppliers don't need to register themselves.
Check if your suppliers are registered by searching for organic producers in TRACES-NT. You can search by country and section (organic producer).
If your suppliers aren't registered, you can:
- request registration for them
- ask your recognised agency to request registration for them.
If you don't know your organic producers, contact your recognised agency.
Help with TRACES-NT
If you need help using the system, email email@example.com
Once you have an account, you can apply for official assurance (a TRACES-NT certificate of inspection). For every consignment, you'll need to:
- submit a COI in TRACES-NT
- complete an official organic assurance application form
- send your completed COI and application form to MPI.
Get an official organic assurance (TRACES-NT COI)
You need to get a COI for every consignment exported to the EU or Switzerland.
The COI must be issued by MPI before your consignment leaves New Zealand. You need to complete your application early enough to make sure this can happen.
Make sure you complete all parts of the application without any errors. Simple mistakes, such as missing information or copying errors, will mean the application must be sent back to have these corrected. This can cause delays.
Your application will be sent to your recognised agency for verification. MPI is not responsible for the time it takes for your recognised agency to verify the details in your COI.
Submit a COI in TRACES-NT
The TRACES-NT website has instructions to help you create a COI.
After you submit your COI in TRACES-NT, save a pdf copy on your computer. Note the COI reference number, which is in the format "COI.NZ.YYYY.0000123" – you'll need this for your official organic assurance application form.
If you need help with requesting a COI in TRACES-NT, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Complete an official organic assurance application form
Instructions are provided on the form.
Download the official organic assurance application form [XLS, 253 KB]
Send your completed COI and application form to MPI
Send the completed official organic assurance application form and a copy of the COI to email@example.com
We recommend submitting your application form and COI at least 3 working days before your consignment leaves New Zealand. Verification of the consignment by the recognised agency and certification by MPI certifiers are separate procedures. You need to ensure your application and COI are submitted early enough for both to be completed in time.
MPI will check that you haven't missed anything obvious. We'll then forward your application and COI to your recognised agency. If your consignment contains products certified by both AsureQuality and BioGro, we will send the application form to both agencies.
Your recognised agency will verify the details in your COI and application form. They will then send the verified application back to MPI. They'll also confirm with MPI that your products have been certified and are eligible for export to the EU or Switzerland.
MPI will make a final check.
If you need to contact MPI about documentation, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Receive your official organic assurance
If your application for an official organic assurance is successful, we'll issue your COI in TRACES-NT.
One hard copy of the COI will be prepared. You can collect this from MPI's Auckland or Christchurch office, or have it sent to you by courier. MPI will not provide additional copies of the COI, but you can download a digital copy from TRACES-NT.
If your application isn't successful, we'll email you and your recognised agency. We will explain why it wasn't successful, and your recognised agency can advise you what to do next.
Who to contact
If you have questions about exporting organics to the EU or about getting a TRACES-NT COI, email email@example.com