Germany

Mandatory Organic Standards and Labels

In Germany, EU legislation on organic farming is fully implemented. Additionally, the national Organic Farming Act and the Regulation on the Approval of Control Bodies after the Organic Farming Act apply. They cover rules for the implementation of EU legislation in Germany. The national rules are not relevant for operators from outside Germany that want to export organic products to Germany.

The competent authority responsible for the implementation of EU and national organic legislation is the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture. 

Pre-packed organic products sold in Germany have to be labelled with the EU organic farming logo. For products imported from third countries the use of the EU organic farming logo is optional. A mandatory national organic logo does not exist.

Basic Regulation on production and labelling of organic products
COUNCIL REGULATION (EC) No 834/2007 of 28 June 2007 on the organic production and labelling of organic products and repealing Regulation (EEC) No 2092/91.
This basic regulation became effective on 1 January 2009 and describes the objectives, principles and most important rules on production. The basic regulation is complemented by the rules for implementation (see below).
A consolidated version covering all amendments can be downloaded as well as the single legal acts (all corrections, amendments and additions). Updates are performed regularly and promptly.
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Implementing Rules on organic production, labelling and Control
COMMISSION REGULATION (EC) No 889/2008 of 5 September 2008 laying down detailed rules for the implementation of Council Regulation (EC) No 834/2007 on organic production and labelling of organic products with regard to organic production, labelling and control.
The rules for implementation describe detailed production and labelling rules and positive lists for permitted inputs. The objectives, principles and most important production rules are described in the basic regulation (see above).
A consolidated version covering all amendments can be downloaded as well as the single legal acts (all corrections, amendments and additions). Updates are performed regularly and promptly.
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Implementing Rules on the import of organic products from third countries  
COMMISSION REGULATION (EC) No 1235/2008 of 8 December 2008 laying down detailed rules for implementation of Council Regulation (EC) No 834/2007 as regards the arrangements for imports of organic products from third countries.
The rules for implementation describe the arrangements for imports of organic products.
A consolidated version covering all amendments can be downloaded as well as the single legal acts (all corrections, amendments and additions). Updates are performed regularly and promptly.
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European Commission
Website of the Directorate-General for Agriculture and Rural Development of the European Commission with information on organic farming and EU legislation.
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Organic Farming Act (Öko-Landbaugesetz - ÖLG)
Germany’s Organic Farming Act covers detailed rules for the implementation of the EU regulation on organic farming in Germany including rules for the introduction of a nationwide system for the approval and monitoring of control bodies. 
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Regulation on the Approval of Control Bodies after the Organic Farming Act (ÖLG-Kontrollstellen-Zulassungsverordnung – ÖLGKontrollStZulV)
The Regulation on the Approval of Control Bodies after the Organic Farming covers detailed rules for the approval of private control bodies in Germany. 
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Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture
Website of the German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture.

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Voluntary Organic Standards and Labels

In Germany, food produced and controlled according to the EU legislation on organic farming can be labelled with the national ecolabel (Biosiegel) in addition to the EU organic farming label. This also applies for imported organic products. The use of this national ecolabel is voluntarily and for free. Legal basis for the national label is the Eco Labelling Law, details regarding the design and usage of the national ecolabel are covered by the Regulation on Organic Labelling (Öko-Kennzeichenverordnung). Prior to its first use, manufacturers of certified organic products who intend to use the Biosiegel must notify their intention to the Biosiegel Information Service located within the Federal Office of Agriculture and Food (BLE).

Additionally, private grower and producer organisations with their own organic standards and labels play a major role in Germany. Many of these are members of the German Federation of the Organic Food Industry (Bund Ökologische Lebensmittelwirtschaft - BÖLW), the umbrella organisation for the German organic farming and food sector. The German organic farming associations’ guidelines meet the criteria of EU organic farming law, but have in some respects a broader scope. The use of the private labels is restricted to members and licensees of the associations that fulfill the requirements of the private standards. In some cases the user has to sign a sublicense contract with the labelling organisation. The private labels can be used in addition to the EU eco label. The most well-known private labels are Bioland, Naturland and Demeter. 

Eco Labelling Law
The Eco Labelling Law (Öko-Kennzeichengesetz - ÖkoKennzG) regulates the introduction and usage of the national Biosiegel and covers penal provisions for the misuse of the Biosiegel.
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Eco Labelling Regulation
The Eco Labelling Regulation [Öko-Kennzeichenverordnung, ÖkoKennzVO] provides details on the layout and usage of the Biosiegel.
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Federal Agency for Agriculture and Food (BLE)
Homepage of the German Federal Agency for Agriculture and Food (Bundesanstalt für Landwirtschaft und Ernährung - BLE), which is responsible for registering and advising companies that intend to use the national Biosiegel for their certified organic products. The BLE is also responsible for the approval of private control bodies. 
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Biosiegel Information Service
Website of the Biosiegel Information Service with details on the legal bases, prerequisites, label design and registration formalities.
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BÖLW
Website of the umbrella association for organic farmers, processors and retailers in Germany (BÖLW).
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Biokreis e.V.
Website of Biokreis e.V. with comprehensive information on the association and its standards.
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Bioland e.V.
Website of Bioland e.V. with comprehensive information on the association and its standards.
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Biopark e.V.
Website of Biopark e.V. with comprehensive information on the association and its standards.
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Demeter
Website of Demeter with comprehensive information on the association and its standards. 
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Ecoland
Website of Ecoland with comprehensive information on the association and its standards. 
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ECOVIN - Bundesverband Ökologischer Weinbau
Website of ECOVIN with comprehensive information on the association and its members.
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Gäa e.V.
Website of Gäa e.V. with comprehensive information on the association and its members. 
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Naturland e.V.
Website of Naturland e.V. with comprehensive information on the association and its members.
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Control Bodies

The organic control and certification process is performed by private control bodies approved by the Federal Office for Agriculture and Food. The control bodies are supervised by the control authorities of the 16 Federal States of Germany. The scope of the inspection bodies can be restricted to certain federal states or inspection areas (e.g. farming, processing, import, feeding stuff). The up-to-date directory of German inspections bodies is published by the EU.

Control Authorities
List of designated control authorities and approved control bodies in the EU, as well as in the European Economic Area and Switzerland in accordance with Article 35 of the Council Regulation (EC) No 834/2007.
Provided are respective links to an official, older version and a more current, provisional version.
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Import Requirements

The procedure for the import of organic products into Germany depends on the country of origin. Within the European Union, organic products can be marketed freely in all Member States. Organic products from countries outside the European Union can be imported into Germany if the exporting country is listed in the directory of recognised third countries or the products have been certified by a control body authorised by the EU Commission as equivalent.

Sales of organic products from EU countries

Germany belongs to the European Union. Within the European Union, the principle of free movement of goods applies for organic products subject to Council Regulation (EC) No 834/2007. Organic products which have been produced or processed in an EU member state or which are imported from third countries into another EU member state can be marketed freely in Germany.

Import of organic products from non-EU countries

Organic products from countries outside the European Union (so-called third countries) can be imported into the EU and can be labelled with reference to organic agriculture and the EU organic logo, if they comply with the legal requirements of EU legislation for organic agriculture and have been controlled and certified on-site at all levels of production, processing, storage and marketing. Organic products from non-EU countries can be imported according to the following two procedures:

  • Procedure 1 – Import from recognised third countries
  • Procedure 2 – Import from all other third countries

Import from recognised third countries

Organic products from non-EU countries can be imported into an EU country and marketed with reference to organic production if the exporting country is listed in the directory of recognised third countries (Annex III of Regulation (EC) No. 1235/2008). With the listing in Annex III of Regulation (EC) No. 1235/2008 the European Union recognises that the rules for production and inspection for certain product categories in these countries are equivalent to the rules of the EU legislation on organic farming. Exceptions for single products and product categories can occur.

The up-to-date directory of recognised third countries can be found in Annex III of the Council Regulation (EC) No 1235/2008 (see below). For each of these countries it has been specified which product categories are permitted for import (for example unprocessed plant products, live animals and unprocessed animal products etc.), which restrictions are in place, which control authority is responsible and from which control bodies the issued certificates of inspection are recognised.

Import from all other third countries

Organic products from non-EU countries not belonging to the recognised third countries (see above) can be imported into an EU country and marketed with reference to organic production if they have been certified by a third countries’ control body approved by the EU Commission according to Annex IV of Regulation (EC) No. 1235/2008. This list of recognised control bodies and control authorities also specifies the third countries and product categories for which the recognition applies.

Customs clearance and import notification

Each batch of organic products imported into the EU has to be accompanied by an electronic certificate of inspection as defined in Annex V of Regulation (EC) No 1235/2008, which is issued by the control body of the operator conducting the last preparation step in the third country, e.g. packing and labelling the export batches. According to amendment 2016/1842 of Regulation (EC) No. 1235/2006 this electronic certificate of inspection has to be generated via TRACES (Trade Control and Expert System) since 20th of October, 2017.
Each company with physical goods contact being involved in the export and import procedure has to register itself in the TRACES database. For that, an EU-Login is necessary. After registration with TRACES, the company has to inform its control body or authority which has to validate the registration.
Even though, the use of digital certificates of inspection with electronic signatures is planned, so far they are hardly accepted and printed and signed paper certificates of inspection are mainly used.
The import company notifies its control body about its imports through TRACES.
At the point of entry, the certificate of inspection has to be presented as original paper to the EU customs authority. The certificate is examined by customs for correctness and provided with an endorsement. Additionally, the customs authority checks the data in the online version of the inspection certificate in TRACES. Complete and correct data are required for customs clearance. After customs clearance, the imported lots can be traded freely in all member states of the EU.

Annex III of Regulation (EC) No 1235/2008: List of Third Countries
Directory of third countries and relevant specifications according to Article 7.
Directory of recognised third countries. The list describes the product categories for which the recognition is valid (including restrictions), the applicable production rules, the responsible authorities, the recognised control bodies, as well as the authorities issuing certifications. Go to the latest consolidated version to receive the latest version of the list.
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Organic Farming Information System: List of recognised Control Bodies and Control Authorities
List of control bodies and control authorities for the purpose of equivalence and relevant specifications referred to in article 10 of Regulation (EC) 1235/2008.
Directory of control bodies recognised as equivalent sorted according to name of control body. Listed are countries and product categories for which the recognition applies. This list is updated irregularly.
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Annex IV of Regulation (EC) No 1235/2008: List of recognised Control Bodies and Control Authorities
List of control bodies and control authorities for the purpose of equivalence and relevant specifications referred to in Article 10.
Directory of control bodies recognised as equivalent sorted according to name of control body. Listed are the countries and product categories for which the recognition applies.
The link leads to an overview page. To find the latest consolidated version, please scroll down until you reach the headline "Relationship between documents". There you find "All consolidated versions". Open the latest consolidated version and scroll down within the document until you reach Annex IV. To find out, which control bodies are recognised for a certain country, you can use the search function and search for the country you are interested in.
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European Commission: Information on TRACES
The website of the European Commission provides general information on TRACES as well as detailed instructions.
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EU-Login
Website to create an EU-Login, which is a requirement to register with TRACES. 
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TRACES - Trade Control and Expert System - Login
Website to register with TRACES.
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Further Information

General information on organic agriculture in Germany.

Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture:  Information on Organic Farming in Germany
Information on organic agriculture in Germany at the website of the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture.
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Oekolandbau.de
German information platform on organic agriculture. 
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Online Magazine for Organic Trade
The online magazine organic-market.info offers a broad spectrum of organic market-related information.
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Organic Europe: Germany
Summary report on the situation of organic agriculture in Germany. The site is updated irregularly.
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Global Organic Trade Guide: Germany
Website of the American Organic Trade Association (OTA) providing information on international organic trade. Although designed for U.S. exporters, some of the provided information might also be interesting for exporters from other countries.
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