Trade To and From Japan

Ecocert ICO can help you ship your USDA NOP certified organic product to Japan!

On September 26, 2013, the USDA National Organic Program (NOP) and the Japan Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries (MAFF) signed a historic organic standards equivalency arrangement, going in to effect January 1, 2014. This has eased the process for organic exports and eliminated differences in organic standards between the two nations.

Additionally, in 2013, MAFF also created new opportunities for the use of Japan’s organic seal, called the “JAS seal.”

U.S. operations should inform Ecocert ICO that they wish to ship products to Japan by sending in the completed application form, along with the invoice and BOL for the shipment. Ecocert ICO will complete the TM-11 Certificate of Import, and return as instructed for inclusion with the shipment of organic products.

Under the terms of this agreement:

  • Products from the United States that are certified to NOP standards will be recognized as equivalent to the Japanese Agricultural Standards (JAS) and may be shipped to Japan. Each shipment must be accompanied by a TM-11 certifier-issued import certificate.
  • Livestock and alcohol products are not covered under this agreement.
  • Product from Japan that is certified to the JAS Organic Program may be shipped to the United States and marketed as organic. Each shipment will require a Certificate of Inspection from the Japanese certifier.
  • Products shipped from the United States and sold as organic in Japan are required to display the JAS seal. The seal may be applied in Japan by a JAS-certified importer or applied by U.S. companies through a consignment contract with a JAS-certified importer.
  • Use of the USDA organic seal is voluntary as long as the products meet USDA labeling requirements. The accredited certifier must also be identified on the label.
  • Additional equivalency arrangement information:
  • National Organic Program's Japan page – The NOP provides a wealth of information including FAQs and flyers about how to access the Japanese market.
  • Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries Food Labeling & Japanese Agricultural Standard Information
  • For latest market information visit the Organic Trade Association’s Global Organic Trade Guide.

Labeling Requirements and Use of the JAS Seal

All products shipped to Japan under the U.S.-MAFF Organic Equivalency Arrangement must meet the JAS labeling requirements. Send all labels to Ecocert ICO for approval prior to printing. To learn more, read MAFF’s JAS labeling requirements.

U.S. Exporters can meet the JAS labeling requirements in three ways.

  1. Exporters who have a JAS Seal Consignment Contract with a JAS-certified importer may apply the JAS seal directly to their products. This allows for pre-printed labels for bulk or retail products and more effective recognition of organic status within Japan.
  2. Exporters who do not have a JAS Seal Consignment Contract with a JAS-certified importer cannot apply the JAS seal to their products prior to export. A JAS-certified importer must import the product, and that importer must apply the seal to the product prior to sale within Japan.
  3. Exporters can obtain direct JAS certification through a JAS-accredited certifier. With direct JAS certification, the exporter can apply the JAS seal directly to their product prior to shipping without a Consignment Contract. Ecocert ICO has observed that this option is time consuming and costly but will allow the ability to use only one seal version on all products.

JAS Seal Consignment Contract

U.S. exporters can sign a JAS Seal Consignment Contract with a JAS-certified importer to apply the JAS seal to USDA NOP-certified organic products in the United States. Under this system, the U.S. exporter must identify a responsible employee, undergo some minor training, and maintain records of the number of seals applied to products and the number of JAS-labeled products shipped to Japan.

Importing Product from Japan

Would you like to import Japanese organic product or ingredients? Japanese organic products sold in the United States must meet the following requirements:

  • Products must be either produced within Japan or have had final processing or packaging occur within Japan.
  • Products produced under the arrangement must comply with the USDA organic regulations for the use of the term “organic” and the USDA seal. USDA Organic Seal
  • Products must travel with an import certificate that has been completed by a MAFF-accredited certifying agent.