Guidance

Export plants and plant products from Great Britain and Northern Ireland

Check if you need a licence or phytosanitary certificate to export plants and plant products.

Export plants and plant products

When you export regulated plants and plant products from Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales) and Northern Ireland to other countries, you need to:

  • check if your plants need a phytosanitary certificate by contacting the plant health authority in the destination country (and if you cannot find details on the IPPC website or are unsure of the requirements, contact your UK plant health authority or inspector if you know them)
  • check if your plants need laboratory testing of samples to make sure they’re free from pests and diseases or for growing season inspections - contact your local plant health inspector
  • apply for a phytosanitary certificate from the relevant UK plant health authority before export
  • register as a professional operator, if you have not already done so

If you export as a private citizen (you are not registered as a company or sole trader), please contact APHA for information on the process of how you can apply. Email planthealth.info@apha.gov.uk.

UK plant health authorities

You can contact the UK’s plant health authorities to check if plants and plant products you intend to export need to be accompanied by a phytosanitary certificate.

England and Wales

The relevant plant authority in England and Wales is the Animal Plant Health Agency (APHA).

Contact your local APHA plant health and seeds inspector or contact the Centre for International Trade (CIT):

CIT Plants Headquarters
Foss House
Kings Pool
1-2 Peasholme Green
York

Telephone: 0300 1000 313 - select option 2 when calling

Email: planthealth.info@apha.gov.uk

Scotland

The relevant plant authority in Scotland is SASA (plant health), a division of the Scottish Government Agriculture and Rural Economy Directorate. Contact SASA:

Telephone: 0131 244 8890

Email: info@sasa.gov.scot

Northern Ireland

The plant authority in Northern Ireland is the plant and tree health department in the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA).

Contact the DAERA Plant Health Inspection Branch:

Telephone: 0300 200 7847

Email: planthealth@daera-ni.gov.uk

Channel Islands and Isle of Man

The Channel Islands and Isle of Man have their own plant health authorities. Find more plant health information from plant health authorities in:

Apply for a phytosanitary certificate

You may need a phytosanitary certificate if you’re exporting:

  • plants, including fruit, vegetables and cut flowers
  • plant products
  • seeds
  • potatoes
  • bulbs
  • grain
  • machinery or vehicles which have been operated for agricultural or forestry purposes
  • wood and wood products

All these goods must be inspected before you can get a phytosanitary certificate.

Read Forestry Commission guidance if you want to export wood, wood products and bark.

If you’re exporting from England and Wales, you can apply online through eDomero for:

  • seeds
  • bulbs
  • grain
  • potatoes

You can use the Apply for plant export certificates and inspections service for:

  • plants, including fruit, vegetables and cut flowers
  • plant products
  • machinery or vehicles which have been operated for agricultural or forestry purposes

If you’re exporting certain fruits and vegetables, you may need a certificate of conformity as well as a phytosanitary certificate.

You apply a different way to export plants from Scotland and Northern Ireland. Contact the plant health authorities in Scotland and Northern Ireland for more information.

Apply for a certificate to re-export goods

Re-export (also known as re-forwarding) is when goods are imported into a country and then exported to another country.

If you’ve imported goods to Great Britain and then want to move them to a different country, it may be possible to apply for a re-forwarding certificate.

Plant health inspectors will only be able to issue a re-forwarding certificate if they can be confident that the goods meet the destination country’s import requirements.

If you apply for a re-forwarding certificate, the inspector will decide whether a further inspection is needed. You may need a further inspection if the:

  • destination country’s rules say you must
  • goods have been exposed to a risk of infestation or contamination after being imported

It may be that the destination country has certain import requirements that include testing or growing season inspections. You should check this before you import the goods into Great Britain, as the phytosanitary certificate you use to import the goods will need to include this information if you wish to forward them on. This original phytosanitary certificate, or certified copies, will need to accompany the goods when they are re-exported.

You can apply for a re-forwarding certificate using the plant health export service, Apply for plant export certificates and inspections service.

Register and apply with online export services

If you’re exporting from England or Wales, you must register as a professional operator and apply for a phytosanitary certificate with:

If you’re based in England or Wales, contact your local APHA inspector if you want to do a paper-based application form.

If you do not know your local APHA inspector, contact APHA plant health by phone or email and they’ll arrange for the inspector to contact you. There is an extra charge of £14.86 for paper-based applications.

You apply a different way to export plants from Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Exporting wood, wood products or isolated bark

If you export certain types of regulated wood, wood products and bark from Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales), you’ll need to register as a professional operator and then apply for phytosanitary certificates from the Forestry Commission.

Exporters in Scotland and Northern Ireland should check national guidance.

Other export requirements for plants and wood

Your goods may also be subject to other requirements or controls. Further information:

Fees

If you’re moving plants from England, Wales or Scotland to Northern Ireland, you do not need to pay for them to be inspected and certified. Your certifier invoices the government for these costs as part of the movement assistance scheme (MAS).

The following fees apply to exports from England and Wales to the EU and non-EU countries. For fees in Scotland please contact the Scottish government.

Inspection costs

For each inspection you’ll be charged a minimum of 30 minutes, which costs £127.60.

After that you’ll pay £63.80 for every 15 minutes of an inspector’s time spent on:

  • carrying out the inspection on site
  • associated on site activities

You’ll have to pay in full for every 15 minutes, even if it takes less time. For example, if it takes the inspector 42 minutes to do everything you will pay for 45 minutes.

The time it takes for the inspector to travel to and from the site to conduct the inspection is already included in the fees.

Certificate and laboratory costs

A phytosanitary certificate costs £25.52.

If you ask for an amendment to your phytosanitary certificate, you’ll pay £15.76.

You’ll pay £33.56 for each sample examined by a laboratory.

Application costs

If you submit an export certification application in paper form, rather than using the online eDomero system, you’ll pay an extra fee of £15.76.

Reduced fees

You can apply for the concessionary rate (PDF, 470KB, 1 page) for the first £1,500 (full price value) of APHA services in a financial year if any of the following apply:

  • you’re exporting VAT-exempt goods
  • you’re not registered for VAT and do not need to be registered in that financial year
  • your certified exports were worth less than £5,000 in the last financial year

Exporting from Great Britain to the EU, Switzerland or Liechtenstein, and moving goods to Northern Ireland

All regulated plants and plant products exported from England, Scotland or Wales are subject to import controls.

This could include documentary, identity and physical checks at the EU border.

Regulated plants and plant products include:

  • all plants for planting
  • root and tubercle vegetables
  • some common fruits other than fruit preserved by deep freezing
  • cut flowers
  • seeds, and other plant or forest reproductive material
  • leafy vegetables other than vegetables preserved by deep freezing
  • some wood and wood products
  • machinery or vehicles which have been operated for agricultural or forestry purposes

Find out about exporting wood, wood products, bark and wood packaging material.

Read how to apply for plant breeders’ rights and market plant reproductive material, seeds and other propagating material.

Border control posts (BCPs) in the EU

Your goods will need to be exported to an EU BCP, approved to handle plants and plant products in the EU.

Exempt plants and plant products

Exempt plants and plant products do not need plant health controls and so will not be subject to import controls at EU countries or Northern Ireland. You do not need a phytosanitary certificate to export these exempt goods.

These plants and plant products are exempt:

  • pineapple
  • coconut
  • durian
  • bananas
  • grain
  • plant products (such as fruit and vegetables) that have been processed and packaged to the point that they no longer pose a biosecurity risk composite products like nut and seed butters containing processed fruit or vegetables

Exporting high-risk and prohibited plants

You cannot export some high-risk and prohibited goods from Great Britain to the EU and Northern Ireland.

These fall into 2 categories:

High-risk plants

High-risk plants and plant products cannot enter the EU and Northern Ireland, until a full risk assessment is conducted by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).

The following plants for planting from Great Britain are prohibited:

  • Acacia
  • Acer
  • Albizia
  • Alnus
  • Annona
  • Bauhinia
  • Berberis
  • Betula
  • Caesalpinia
  • Cassia
  • Castanea
  • Cornus
  • Corylus
  • Crataegus
  • Diospyros
  • Fagus
  • Ficus carica
  • Fraxinus
  • Hamamelis
  • Jasminum
  • Juglans
  • Ligustrum
  • Lonicera
  • Malus
  • Nerium
  • Persea
  • Populus
  • Prunus
  • Quercus
  • Robinia
  • Salix
  • Sorbus
  • Taxus
  • Tilia
  • Ulmus

The prohibition does not apply to seeds, fruits, leaves, tissue culture material and naturally or artificially dwarfed woody plants of these species.

High-risk plant products

These plant products are prohibited:

  • plants of Ullucus tuberosus
  • fruits of Momordica from countries where Thrips palmi is present and effective mitigation measures are not in place

How to apply for an exemption from the high-risk prohibition

An application will need to be submitted by Defra to the European Commission for every high-risk plant. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) will then assess the information provided by Defra and complete a full risk assessment on the plant or plant product.

If the risk assessment allows the trade, the plant or plant product will be removed from the high risk list. But it may still need specific import requirements, including phytosanitary certification.

EFSA has set out the information and format required to submit an application.

Prohibited plants and plant products

These plants and plant products are prohibited for export from Great Britain to the EU and Northern Ireland. This includes:

  • isolated bark of Castanea
  • plants of Vitis, other than fruits
  • plants of Citrus, Fortunella, Poncirus, and their hybrids, other than fruits and seeds
  • tubers of Solanum tuberosum, seed potatoes
  • plants for planting of stolon - or tuber-forming species of Solanum, and their hybrids
  • soil as such consisting in part of solid organic substances
  • growing medium as such, other than soil, consisting in whole or in part of solid organic substances, other than that composed entirely of peat or fibre of Cocos nucifera, previously not used for growing of plants or for any agricultural purposes

EU Protected Zones of fireblight

Plants and live pollen for pollination of the following species (excluding their fruit and seeds) are also prohibited when exporting to EU Protected Zones of fireblight (Erwinia amylovora):

  • Amelanchier
  • Chaenomeles
  • Cotoneaster
  • Crataegus
  • Cydonia
  • Eriobotrya
  • Malus
  • Mespilus
  • Photinia davidiana
  • Pyracantha
  • Pyrus
  • Sorbus

How to export prohibited plants and soil

You can only send prohibited plants or soil to someone who has a scientific licence to receive them in the EU. They will have a ‘letter of authority’ with their licence.

Follow these steps to export prohibited material to EU countries:

  1. Ask the recipient for a copy of their letter of authority.
  2. Send to APHA to be endorsed.
  3. Attach the letter of authority to the outside of all packages before you send them. You should also include copies of the letter of authority inside the packaging.
  4. Store prohibited the plants or soil in 3 layers of packaging - at least 1 of the layers must be escape and shatter-proof.

If the recipient tells you that you do not need a letter of authority, ask them to show you official confirmation of this from their plant health authority. Send this confirmation to:

  • APHA for England and Wales
  • SASA for Scotland
  • DAERA for Northern Ireland

Do not send your material until you have got confirmation from the recipient’s plant health authority and the relevant competent authority.

Temporary operational measures for movement of some goods from Great Britain to Northern Ireland

There are some temporary operational measures in place to address issues for the movement of agricultural and forestry machinery and growing media from Great Britain to Northern Ireland.

Agricultural and forestry machinery

Traders can move used agricultural and forestry machinery without the need for a phytosanitary certificate, provided they are washed to remove excessive soil and plant debris.

This means machinery can still be moved if small amounts of soil remain.

Movements from Great Britain to the Republic of Ireland using a port in Northern Ireland must have a valid phytosanitary certificate and pre-notification on TRACES NT.

Growing media

Bulbs or vegetables grown in soil can be sent from Great Britain to Northern Ireland, even if they still have soil attached, as long as they still respect any pest free area requirements.

Plants can be moved to Northern Ireland with soil and other growing media attached, provided they are from a business in Great Britain that is authorised to issue plant passports.

Arrangements for authorised traders moving food from Great Britain to Northern Ireland

An arrangement is in place which allows authorised traders, such as supermarkets and their trusted suppliers, to move some goods without the need for official certification.

If you’re moving plants or plant products from Great Britain to Northern Ireland, you do not need official certification, such as export health certificates, phytosanitary certificates or marketing standards certification.

The following conditions will be attached to these arrangements:

  • the goods are packaged for end consumers and have a label reading “These products from the United Kingdom may not be marketed outside Northern Ireland”
  • they are destined solely for sale to end consumers in supermarkets located in Northern Ireland, and they cannot be sold to other operators of the food chain
  • they are accompanied by a simplified official certificate globally stating the products meet all the import requirements of EU legislation
  • they enter Northern Ireland through a designated point of entry, where they are submitted to a systematic documentary check and to a risk-based identity check on a selection of items in the means of transport
  • they are monitored through a channelling procedure applicable from the designated point of entry to the destination supermarket in Northern Ireland

Authorised traders

Authorised traders are supermarkets and their trusted suppliers. The UK government will not discriminate against smaller suppliers or between different companies in recognising traders as authorised for the purpose of this arrangement.

A trusted supplier is any business that independently moves its products from Great Britain to Northern Ireland, for sale in Northern Ireland.

For example, a cut flower supplier that moves its own products from Great Britain to Northern Ireland, which delivers directly to a store for sale within Northern Ireland only would be eligible for authorised trader status.

However, a cut flower supplier that delivers products to a supermarket distribution centre in Great Britain would not qualify if the products are then moved by the supermarket to Northern Ireland. In this instance, the supermarket would be the authorised trader for that movement into Northern Ireland.

Plant health exports audited trader scheme (PHEATS)

If you export fruit, vegetables or cut flowers from Great Britain to the EU or Northern Ireland, you may be eligible for the plant health exports audited trader scheme (PHEATS).

This means you’ll be able to do your own inspections and apply for phytosanitary certificates to be issued. Find out how to apply and register for the scheme on the plant health portal.

Under the PHEATS scheme, you’ll have to pay for:

  • an initial site visit to include training, assessment and authorisation - £313.24 per authorisation
  • an auditing / monitoring fee - £178.92 per audit
  • the issue of a certificate - £25.52 per phytosanitary certificate

Movements from Northern Ireland to Great Britain

Qualifying Northern Ireland goods (QNIGs) can continue to move from Northern Ireland to Great Britain in the same way as they did before 1 January 2021.

QNIGs are goods:

  • in free circulation in Northern Ireland - on the basis that they are not under customs supervision (except when that supervision arises from from the goods being taken out of Northern Ireland or the EU), or
  • which have undergone processing operations in Northern Ireland under the inward processing procedure, and only incorporate inputs which were in free circulation in the UK

This means that if you are an operator based in Great Britain and receive a consignment of plants or plant products from Northern Ireland which are QNIGs and subject to plant passport requirements, they will continue to arrive at your premises with an EU plant passport as they do now.

As these are QNIGs you do not need to routinely replace this EU plant passport with a UK plant passport, and the goods may be moved on under their EU plant passport unless:

  • you split the consignment and the new ‘units’ (these may be trolleys, pallets, boxes, bags or similar) no longer have a plant passport attached to them, or
  • you choose to replace the plant passport (for example, to include your supplier’s details for business purposes)

If either apply, a UK plant passport could be issued without a full examination of the plants taking place before onward movement. This is in line with current guidance on when to replace a plant passport. You must keep records of any changes made.

If you replace a plant passport on a QNIG you must put the code ‘GB(NI)’ in Part E of that replacement UK plant passport, to help maintain their identity as QNIGs.

This is to aid monitoring of compliance with plant passporting requirements, including the specific provisions for QNIGs.

This will help ensure that it is easily visible whether a good has originated outside of Great Britain’s phytosanitary zone, yet may not have undergone full third country checks, which will be important for tracing purposes in the event of a pest or disease is found.

If the phytosanitary status of your consignment changes, for example because traceability has not been maintained, there is a pest or disease issue with the consignment or the plants have been ‘grown on’, then a full examination will need to be carried out on the plants.

Once confirmed they are fully aligned with GB plant health standards, a standard UK plant passport with Part E left blank could be issued.

Read guidance on when plants have been ‘grown-on’.

Returned wood, plants and plant products: policy from 1 January 2021 to March 2022

Plants and plant product consignments rejected at EU BCPs can re-enter Great Britain through any point of entry from 1 January 2021 to March 2022.

You must submit an import pre-notification using the PEACH IT system to notify APHA for rejected plants and plant products returning to England or Wales.

‘Pre-notification’ means giving advance notice to the responsible authority for goods that arrive in Great Britain.

You must give notice:

  • at least 4 working hours before the goods land in Great Britain, for air and ‘roll-on-roll-off’ freight
  • at least 1 working day before the goods arrive in Great Britain for all other freight

For rejected plants and plant products returning to Scotland go to the SASA.

For wood and wood products returning to Great Britain (Scotland, England and Wales) you’ll need to notify the Forestry Commission.

You must include a copy of the original phytosanitary certificate with pre-notification.

If your consignment was exported without a phytosanitary certificate, before returning your goods please contact:

  • APHA for plants and plant products in England and Wales on 0300 1000 313
  • SASA for plants and plant products in Scotland on 0131 244 8890
  • Forestry Commission for wood and wood products in Great Britain on 0300 067 5155

APHA, SASA and the Forestry Commission will assess this information to decide the conditions of import and if the consignment needs further checks on entry to Great Britain.

If further checks are needed someone from FC, APHA or SASA in Scotland will contact you.

Exporting from the UK to non-EU third countries

If you export regulated plants and plant products exported from the UK (England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) to non-EU third countries, you must follow the import regulations in the country you’re exporting to.

Get help researching your export market. Contact APHA for advice on what the import regulations and rules are in the country you’re exporting to.

Check the destination country profile page of the International Plant Protection Convention’s website to find out if you need a phytosanitary certificate.

Make sure you ask to receive an official document to explain the rules in that country and how to comply. This will help UK inspectors to prepare your export correctly.

You may need a phytosanitary certificate if you’re exporting:

  • plants, including fruit, vegetables and cut flowers
  • plant products
  • seeds
  • potatoes
  • bulbs
  • grain
  • machinery
  • wood and wood products

Where there has been no recent trade in grain, you may need a phytosanitary certificate to export grain. Check with APHA before sending consignments.

If you’re exporting from England and Wales, you can apply online through eDomero for:

  • seeds
  • bulbs
  • grain
  • potatoes

You can use the Apply for plant export certificates and inspections service for:

  • plants, including fruit, vegetables and cut flowers
  • plant products
  • machinery or vehicles which have been operated for agricultural or forestry purposes

If you’re exporting certain fruits and vegetables, you may need a certificate of conformity as well as a phytosanitary certificate.

You apply a different way to export plants from Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Read the phytosanitary certification of grain for export user guide for more information on exports from England, Wales and Scotland.

If you’re a member of the Plant Health Propagation Scheme or the Seed Potato Classification Scheme, you may not need an inspection. Contact APHA to find out.

Wood packaging material

If you use wood packaging material to export goods to other countries, check your solid wood packaging meets requirements.

Contact

For more information on plant exports, email planthealth.info@apha.gov.uk or telephone 0300 1000 313.

Published 8 November 2016
Last updated 21 October 2021 + show all updates
  1. Contact information added for private citizens who would like to export plants or plant products.

  2. Added guidance on when you should use the new 'Apply for plant export certificates and inspections service'.

  3. Removed the 1 October 2021 date from the 'Arrangements for authorised traders moving food from Great Britain to Northern Ireland' guidance. Authorised traders can continue to move some goods from Great Britain to Northern Ireland without needing official certification.

  4. New content added on using a logistics hub to export or move plants and plant products.

  5. Link added to the new Plant Health Export Service for exporters of used agricultural and forestry machinery to apply for phytosanitary certificates. Additional information added for the export prohibition of certain plants and live pollen for pollination to EU Protected Zones of fireblight.

  6. Updated dates for section on returned wood, plants and plant products.

  7. Updated Apply for export services at concessionary rates form.

  8. New section on 'Temporary operational measures for movement of some goods from GB to NI'

  9. Updated section on authorised traders moving food from GB to NI.

  10. Added information on the plant health exports audited trader scheme (PHEATS).

  11. Added section 'Returned wood, plants and plant products: policy from 1 January to 30 June 2021'

  12. Updated with guidance on how to comply with rules from 1 January.

  13. Updated the text under the 'Check if you need a plant passport' heading regarding inspection fees.

  14. Updated reduced fees document

  15. Updated forms - PHE36, KO1, PHE90, PHE60, HH87, PHE86, PH13 and PH13A

  16. New fees for export inspections, phytosanitary certificates and laboratory examinations.

  17. Fees information updated.

  18. Updated inspection fees due to fee changes on 6 April 2018.

  19. First published.