Export plants, seeds, bulbs and wood: special rules

Check if you need a licence or phytosanitary certificate to export plants, seeds, bulbs or wood.

What you need to do to export plants, seeds and bulbs depends on whether you’re exporting them:

There are different rules for timber or wood.

Some countries may have import rules for certain goods. You can check by talking to your importer or getting help researching your export market. You can also contact a plant health inspector.

Within the EU

To sell plants, seeds or bulbs within the EU you must check if you need a:

If you don’t need either of these, you don’t need to follow any other special rules to move plants within the EU.

There are different rules if you’re moving endangered or prohibited plants.

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

Check if you need a plant passport

Check if your plant is:

If it’s on either list you’ll need to make a plant passport. You need permission before you can do this - either:

If your plant is a fireblight host, you can only send it to another ‘protected zone’ if they come from a place with fireblight buffer zone status (PDF, 202KB, 2 pages) . Contact the Plant Health Office if you’re not sure where protected zones are.

The Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) will arrange to inspect your plants and where they’re grown. The fee is £46.10 for every 15 minutes of the inspector’s time. There’s a minimum fee of £92.19.

You can make plant passports when you pass your inspection - APHA will explain how to do this.

Permission to make passports lasts a year, but you may need more inspections if your site has a higher risk of disease. If you renew your permission, you have to pay the fee for inspection again.

Check if you need a supplier document

You need a supplier document to sell the seeds, roots or any other plant ‘propagation material’ from ornamental plants within the EU.

Contact the Plant Health Office to:

  • get permission and instructions to make supplier documents - you don’t need permission if you already make plant passports
  • check if you need one if you’re not sure

Outside the EU

Check with the plant authority in the destination country to find out if you need a health certificate (‘phytosanitary certificate’) to export:

  • plants and plant products
  • bulbs
  • seeds for sowing

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.

Apply for a plant health certificate

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

To get a health certificate, your plants must be inspected.

Apply online through eDomero.

Alternatively you can apply by filling in the appropriate form for:

You might also need to fill in a form for:

Send the completed form to your local APHA office. Use the head office address if you’re based in Wales.

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.


It usually costs a minimum of £130.48 for a site inspection followed by tests.

If the inspection lasts more than 30 minutes, you’ll have to pay £65.24 for every extra 15 minutes.

If your crops have an inspection during growing season or a soil test, it costs £49.68 for every 15 minutes and a minimum of £99.36.

There might be additional charges if your goods need more tests to comply with the importing country’s health rules.

Reduced fees

You can apply for a 50% discount (PDF, 219KB, 1 page) for the first £500 of APHA services in a financial year if either the following apply:

  • you’re not registered for VAT
  • your certified exports were worth less than £5,000 in the last financial year

Exporting timber or wood

What you need to do depends on if you’re exporting within the EU or outside the EU.

There are different rules if you’re exporting wood packaging.

Within the EU

Check the list of timber and wood that need a plant passport.

If you need one:

Outside the EU

Check what you need to do with the importing country’s plant protection organisation,

Endangered plants

Use the Species+ tool to search for your plant. Check which annex (A, B, C or D) it’s classified as under EU wildlife trade regulations.

What you need to do depends on whether you’re exporting within the EU or outside the EU.

If Species+ says the plant is banned, you can’t export it.

Within the EU

If the plant is classed as B, C or D, you don’t need to do anything.

If it’s classed as Annex A, you must apply for an Article 10 certificate unless either:

  • the plant is artificially propagated
  • you’re exporting the plant for non-commercial reasons like scientific research, educational display or because you’re giving it away

Apply for an Article 10 certificate

Fill in the either:

Use the guidance notes (PDF, 200KB, 9 pages) if you need help.

Email it to or post it to the Centre for International Trade Bristol.

Include any supporting documents that show you acquired the product legally, for example:

  • a copy of the import permit
  • a previous Article 10 certificate (use the yellow copy)

The certificate costs £31. Find out how to pay for your application.

You should get your certificate within 15 working days.

Outside the EU

If it’s classed as A, B or C, you need a CITES export permit.

If it’s classed as D, check the animal’s CITES listing in the Species+ tool. If it’s in Appendix III, you’ll need a CITES export permit. Otherwise you don’t need to do anything.

Apply for a CITES permit

Fill in the either:

You can use the guidance notes (PDF, 154KB, 10 pages) to help you.

If you’re re-exporting goods include supporting documents to prove it legally entered the EU.

Email or post the completed form to APHA or DAERA in Northern Ireland.

A permit costs £74 (or £59 to re-export). You should receive it within 15 working days.

If you’re exporting as part of conservation work, you might be able to get a fee waiver, through either:

You can use the guidance notes (PDF, 290KB, 2 pages) to help you.

Regular exports for public exhibition

If you regularly take plants abroad for a short period of time for public exhibitions, check if you can use a travelling exhibition certificate instead of a CITES permit.

You can use the certificate whether you’re moving goods within or outside the EU.

It’s valid for 3 years and means you don’t need to apply for permission each time you take your display items abroad.​

Apply for a certificate by:

You’ll get your certificate within 15 working days and there’s no fee.

Prohibited plants and soil

How you export prohibited plants and soil depends on whether you’re exporting within the EU or outside the EU.

Within the EU

You can’t usually move:

As well as soil from these countries, you also can’t move other organic matter you can grow plants in, excluding:

  • peat
  • marine sediments
  • pure sand, clay, talc, rocks, volcanic pumice or chalk

Check the importer has scientific licence

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

You must:

  • ask the recipient to send you a copy of their ‘letter of authority’
  • send it to APHA to be endorsed
  • attach the letter inside and outside all the packages once it’s been endorsed
  • 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 don’t need a letter of authority, ask for their official confirmation of this from their national plant protection organisation. Don’t send your material until you’ve got this.

Outside the EU

Contact APHA to find out what you need to do, including what the rules are in the country you’re exporting to.

Published 8 November 2016