Exporting plants to non-EU countries
The documents and inspections you need to export plants and how much you'll have to pay.
You must follow this guidance if you want to export the following to non-EU countries from England and Wales:
- plant products, eg bulbs
- fruit and vegetables
- potatoes (including seed potatoes)
- agricultural machinery - the machinery may have prohibited soil, plant debris or seeds on it
You must follow other guidance if you’re exporting grain.
Documents you need
Plant health certificates
You need to get a plant health certificate from the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) to export plants and plant materials to most non-EU countries. You must send this with your consignment.
Contact APHA for detailed information about the documents you need to export your consignment.
Plant health certificates are also known as phytosanitary certificates.
Some countries require that your consignment travels with an import permit as well as a plant health certificate.
You should ask the recipient whether you need an import permit, and have them send it to you. Contact APHA for help in meeting the conditions it sets out.
Exporting previously imported material
You need a re-forwarding plant health certificate if you’re exporting material which came into England or Wales from a non-EU country with a plant health certificate and was then stored, repacked, or split up.
Contact APHA to get a re-forwarding certificate - send them a copy of the original plant health certificate and they can tell you if the material must be inspected or tested.
When you need an inspection
You must have the following materials inspected by APHA at your site, to get a plant health certificate:
- plants and plant products
- fruit and vegetables (including seed and ware potatoes)
- farm machinery
- seeds for sowing
In most cases, the inspectors will check for:
- pests and diseases
- prohibited weed seeds
- parasitic plants
Inspections on seed for sowing (other than seed potatoes)
APHA inspectors will usually take samples from the batch of seeds you plan to export and test them for pests and diseases in an APHA laboratory.
You’ll get a plant health certificate for the full batch of seeds if the tests show they’re free from pests and diseases.
Certificates are valid for 2 years from the date of the test - you can only use them to export seeds from the batch that was certified.
A small number of countries also require your seed consignments and surrounding storage areas to be free from storage pests in order for them to be imported. APHA will tell you if this is necessary and they may visit your site to inspect the storage and consignment areas.
Growing season inspections
You may need to have your plants inspected by APHA in growing season, to make sure they’re free from pests and diseases which wouldn’t show up in tests at the time you’re exporting.
You’ll usually have to do this if you’re exporting plants in the dormant state or flower bulbs.
When you can take samples yourself
You can send processed plant products to the APHA lab for inspection instead of having inspectors visit your premises, for example:
- tea or tea leaves
- dried cereal flakes
APHA will test the material to make sure it meets the plant health regulations in the importing country. You’ll get a plant health certificate in 7 days if it does.
Contact APHA if you’re unsure whether you can take samples of plant products yourself or not.
Testing soil and washing roots
Some countries require your plant health certificate to show that the soil or growing medium your plants are in is free from certain pests and diseases.
This usually applies to plants with roots grown in soil - contact APHA to find out which countries demand this test.
Some countries, eg USA, Australia and New Zealand also require you to wash soil and growing medium from the roots of all plants - contact APHA to check if you need to do this.
To arrange for APHA to take soil samples, complete and return form PH13 - allow 2 weeks before the date you plan to export.
Apply for inspection and certification
Download and complete the relevant form to apply for inspection or certification.
- used farm machinery
- growing season inspection
- soil sampling for potato cyst nematode
- plant material for re-forwarding
Send the completed form to your local APHA office unless it tells you to send it to a specific APHA laboratory.
Site inspections in different districts
If you need inspectors to check materials at sites that are in different districts, you must complete separate application forms for each site.
For the purposes of this guidance, a district in England is a civil parish or a district ward if there’s no civil parish - a district in Wales or Scotland is a community.
How long certification takes
You’ll usually get certification within 7 days of the APHA receiving your application form.
It’ll take longer if there are mistakes on your form.
Use existing test results to get certified
If you’re taking part in the Plant Health Propagation Scheme (PHPS) or the Seed Potato Classification Scheme (SPCS), you may be able to use the results you have from these to get a plant health certificate for exporting materials.
Contact APHA to arrange to do this.
The fee you must pay depends on the services you need and how long they take.
You have to pay for the time it takes an inspector to get to your site as well as the time spent on inspection and testing results.
Inspectors can give you an estimate of fees before they start the work.
Inspection and tests
It costs £65.24 for each 15 minutes that the inspection on your site and testing of materials takes.
The minimum cost of any inspection followed by tests is £130.48.
It costs £36.35 to send materials to an APHA laboratory for testing.
Certificate with no inspection or laboratory test
It costs £13.87 to get a plant health certificate if you don’t need an inspection or laboratory examination.
Growing season inspection and soil sampling
It costs £49.68 for every 15 minutes of a growing season inspection, or a potato cyst nematodes test on soil samples.
The minimum fee is £99.36.
You’ll also have to pay for any sampling or scientific tests that you need the APHA to do for your plants to meet the importing country’s health requirements.
Reduced fees for small exporters
You only have to pay half the usual fee for the first £250 of APHA services in a financial year, if you meet either of the following conditions:
- you’re not registered for VAT
- your certified exports or sales for certified export were worth less than £5,000 in the previous financial year
Complete the application for export services at concessionary rates and send it to APHA to apply for a reduced fee.
If you register for VAT at any point in the financial year, you must contact APHA to tell them you’ll no longer be eligible for the concession.
If you’re eligible for the discount because the value of your exports was less than £5,000 in the previous financial year, you must tell the APHA if you expect your exports to amount to more than this by the end of the current financial year. Your discount will then last until 1 April, the first day of the new financial year.
How to pay
The APHA will send you an invoice within 30 days of inspection - it’ll tell you how much you have to pay.
Exporting from Scotland or Northern Ireland
Contact Science and Advice for Scottish Agriculture (SASA) if you’re exporting from Scotland:
Horticulture & Marketing Unit
Science & Advice for Scottish Agriculture (SASA)
A20 Roddinglaw Road,
Phone: 0131 244 8935
Contact the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development of Northern Ireland (DARDNI) if you’re exporting grain from Northern Ireland.
Restrictions on trade to the Russian Federation
In August 2014 the Russian Federation introduced a ban on the import of some agricultural commodities from the whole of the EU including the UK. This includes fruit and vegetables.
The Russian Federation has extended this ban until August 2016.
If you are exporting products to the Russian Federation from the UK, which were originally from outside the EU, you are advised to request a phytosanitary certificate from the original country’s plant health authority before exporting the consignment to the EU - even if your product does not need a certificate to enter the EU.
The certificate can then accompany your consignment, with any other documents, to prove the origin of the products.
Published: 29 July 2015
Updated: 7 August 2015
- Information on the restrictions on trade to the Russian Federation which have been extended to August 2016.
- First published.