Guidance

Import plants and plant products from the EU to Great Britain and Northern Ireland

How to import plants, fruit, vegetables, cut flowers, trees and agricultural machinery to Great Britain and to Northern Ireland from the EU.

‘Plant’ means a living plant or a living part of a plant at any stage of growth. This includes trees and shrubs.

‘Plant product’ means products of plant origin that are unprocessed or have had a simple preparation. This includes wood and bark.

Phased plant health controls for imports

Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales) has adopted a phased approach to plant health controls for plants and plant products imported from the European Union (EU). This phased approach started in January 2021 and will end in July 2022.

This guide explains what you need to do when some or all plant health controls start to apply to your consignments.

Plant health controls apply to goods that are regulated. Unregulated plants and plant products do not need to go through any plant health controls.

Plant health controls include:

  • phytosanitary certificates - documents issued in the country of origin that prove the consignment is biosecure
  • pre-notification - you must give the responsible authority advance notice each time you import regulated plants and plant products from the EU to Great Britain
  • document checks - an inspector examines official certifications and documents (these take place away from the border)
  • identity checks - an inspector confirms that the content and labelling of the goods match the information provided in certifications and documents
  • physical checks - an inspector checks the health of the plants, the consignment’s packaging, means of transport and labelling and will help you with any other tests you may need

If you import plants and plant products from the EU to Northern Ireland, you can continue as before. There is no change to the process.

Check you have met all the customs requirements for imports from the EU. You must have an EORI number before you import any goods into Great Britain.

If you import fruit and vegetables from the EU into Great Britain, you also need to follow the quality and labelling rules.

Regulated and notifiable high-priority goods

The high-priority goods list (ODT, 12.6 KB) includes:

  • all plants for planting
  • ware potatoes
  • some seed for sowing and other plant or forest reproductive material
  • some wood and wood products
  • used agricultural or forestry machinery

If you import high-priority goods you need to:

  1. Register as a place of destination or use a place of destination that is already registered (this is where any physical and identity checks will take place).
  2. Get a phytosanitary certificate from your EU exporter.
  3. Register on an import IT system as an importer.
  4. Use the import IT system to pre-notify your goods for import in England, Scotland or Wales.
  5. Comply with documentary, identity and physical checks if needed.
  6. Pay fees for plant health checks from 1 June 2021.
  7. Meet ISPM 15 international standards for any wood packaging material you use.

From 1 July 2022 all physical and identity checks for high-priority goods will take place at border control posts in Great Britain instead of at a place of destination.

Other regulated goods

From 1 January 2022, other regulated goods imported from the EU (except the Republic of Ireland) will also need to go through some plant health controls.

Regulated and notifiable plants and plant products

From 1 January 2022, the following regulated and notifiable goods imported from the EU (except the Republic of Ireland) must go through some plant health controls:

  • growing medium attached to plants
  • root and tubercle vegetables
  • some leafy vegetables
  • some fresh produce (fruit and vegetables)
  • some seeds, in addition to those on the high-priority list
  • some cut flowers

You can find a full list of all regulated and notifiable goods on the Plant Health Portal.

If you import any regulated and notifiable goods on the high-priority goods list (ODT, 12.6 KB), follow the rules for high-priority goods.

From 1 January 2022, if you import regulated and notifiable goods from the EU (except the Republic of Ireland) you’ll need to:

  1. Register on an import IT system as an importer.
  2. Use the import IT system to pre-notify your goods for import in England, Scotland or Wales.

Unlike regulated and notifiable goods on the high-priority goods list (ODT, 12.6 KB), these plants and plant products will not need identity or physical checks until 1 July 2022.

From 1 July 2022 you’ll need to:

  1. Get a phytosanitary certificate from your EU exporter.
  2. Comply with documentary checks.
  3. Pay fees for any plant health checks.

From 1 July 2022, all regulated and notifiable goods will need to go through full plant health controls. Identity and physical checks will take place at border control posts in Great Britain.

Regulated plants and plant products

From 1 July 2022, these other regulated goods must go through some plant health controls:

  • all fresh produce
  • all seeds
  • all cut flowers

You can find a full list of all regulated goods on the Plant Health Portal.

From 1 July 2022, if you import regulated plants and plant products from this list you’ll need to get a phytosanitary certificate from your EU exporter.

From 1 July 2022, all regulated goods will need to go through full plant health controls. In some cases, you’ll need to pre-notify your goods and comply with documentary checks and identity and physical checks at border control posts in Great Britain.

You’ll be told if you need to pre-notify goods once you have submitted your customs declaration. You’ll have to pay fees for checks.

Get a phytosanitary certificate

To import regulated plants and plant products, you must get a phytosanitary certificate for each consignment from the plant health authority in the country where your supplier is.

A phytosanitary certificate is a statement from the plant health authority that the consignment:

  • has been officially inspected
  • complies with legal requirements for entry into Great Britain
  • is free from quarantine pests and diseases

The inspection referred to in the phytosanitary certificate must take place no more than 14 days before the consignment is dispatched from the country where your supplier is.

Someone in the inspecting plant health authority must sign the phytosanitary certificate within the same 14-day period.

If you need a phytosanitary certificate for your consignment, check that your EU exporter has issued a phytosanitary certificate before it arrives in Great Britain. Make sure you get a scanned copy from your exporter.

You’ll need to upload a copy of the phytosanitary certificate on the relevant import IT system if you need to pre-notify your consignment.

Submit documents after your consignment arrives

Within 3 days of your plant or plant product consignment reaching Great Britain (or as soon as possible) you must post the original phytosanitary certificate to APHA.

For consignments landing at Heathrow or Gatwick send the certificate to:

Animal and Plant Health Agency
1st Floor
Building 4
Heathrow Boulevard
284 Bath Road
West Drayton
Middlesex
UB7 0DQ

For consignments landing anywhere else send the certificate to:

Animal and Plant Health Agency
Foss House
1st Floor
Kings Pool
1-2 Peasholme Green
York
YO1 7PX

For wood, wood products and bark, you’ll need to provide the Forestry Commission with original phytosanitary certificates within 3 days (or as soon as possible) of the consignment arriving in Great Britain.

Your local forestry inspector will agree with you which address you need to send the phytosanitary certificate to.

Read more on how to import timber, wood products or bark.

Register and pre-notify your goods on the relevant import IT system

You must be registered with Government Gateway before you can register with and start using one of the import IT systems to import goods from the EU to Great Britain.

If you already use the PEACH IT system, continue to use it until you are contacted to switch to IPAFFs.

If you’re importing goods for the first time from 1 January 2022, register to use IPAFFs.

After you’ve completed your registration with the relevant IT system, you’ll be officially registered as a professional operator to import plants and plant products.

If you need help with import notifications, you can call the APHA helpline on 03300 416 999 or email APHAServiceDesk@apha.gov.uk.

Read Forestry Commission guidance if you want to register as a professional operator to import timber, wood products or bark.

Read DAERA guidance for information on imports to Northern Ireland.

Pre-notify your goods

After you’ve registered and have access to PEACH or IPAFFs, you must:

  • let authorities know in advance when your goods will arrive (known as ‘pre-notification’)
  • upload documents - for example, a scanned copy of your phytosanitary certificate
  • receive notifications about whether your goods will need a documentary, identity or physical checks
  • follow the progress of your consignments

‘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

If you do not give enough pre-notification notice, your consignment may be held until the requirement is met. It could also result in your consignment being destroyed.

After you’ve pre-notified, you’ll get a message on the relevant IT system to say if your goods need any checks.

Physical inspections for high-priority goods

Identity and physical checks for high-priority goods will happen in person as part of a physical inspection at a ‘place of destination’ or border control post in Great Britain.

You can either use a registered place of destination or register as a place of destination. A place of destination must be a commercial location.

From 1 July 2022, all identity and physical checks on high-priority goods from the EU will take place at border control posts in Great Britain. You will not be able to get any high-priority goods checked at a place of destination.

Use an existing place of destination or border control post

If you decide to use a place of destination that is already registered, get in touch with them to arrange this. In some cases you might be able to arrange for your physical inspection to take place at a border control posts in Great Britain.

If you’re considering a border control post, contact them first to make sure they have capacity and can handle the material of your consignment.

Register as a place of destination

There are safety, equipment and storage requirements you must meet to become a place of destination in Great Britain.

Find out how to register as a place of destination.

Fees for plant health checks

If your consignment needs plant health checks, these fees will apply:

  • Documentary checks - you have to pay £5.25 in England and Wales. This fee applies to all regulated plants and plant products, including those on the high-priority list.
  • Identity checks - how much you have to pay in England and Wales will depend on the type of plant material you import, including its risk level.
  • Physical checks - how much you have to pay in England and Wales will depend on the type of plant material you import, including its risk level.

Read more about risk levels and the associated inspection fees for EU imports that apply in England and Wales.

Attach UK plant passport

After your consignment passes plant health controls you can move it on. You will need a UK plant passport for movement of goods from the first place of destination if:

  • they are moved to another professional operator
  • they are sold to final users (those buying for personal use) under a distance contract - for example, online
  • they are moved to another one of your premises that is more than 10 miles from the premises the consignment arrived at
  • the phytosanitary status of the consignment changes. For example, if it is reconfigured, such as 2 plants previously in separate pots planted up in a new pot together

Read how to issue UK plant passports to move regulated plant material in Great Britain.

The EU plant passport is no longer recognised as an official label in Great Britain.

What happens if your consignment fails plant health controls

If all or part of your consignment fails plant health checks, an inspector may be able to advise on what you need to do for the consignment to pass.

You may need to rebook an appointment with an inspector.

If the inspector decides that the failed goods cause a risk to plant health, they may:

  • destroy your goods
  • ask you to return them

If you need to return goods to the EU, they will be treated as an export. The competent authority will explain to you how to do this, if it happens.

Read more on how to export plants and plant products to the EU.

Importing from non-EU countries to Great Britain via the EU

If you import goods from a non-EU country to Great Britain via the EU, your goods may be treated as an EU import. While in the EU they must have:

  • entered into free circulation
  • passed EU plant health checks

They will be treated as a non-EU country import if they did not enter into free circulation or pass plant health checks in the EU.

Read more on how to import plants and plant products from non-EU countries.

Unregulated plants and plant products

These unregulated plants and plant products do not need to go through any plant health controls:

  • pineapple (fruits of Ananas comosus)
  • kiwi (fruits of Actinidia spp. Lindl)
  • coconut (fruits of Cocos nucifera L)
  • citrus (fruit and leaves of Citrus spp. L.)
  • kumquat (fruit of Fortunella spp. Swingle)
  • bitter orange (fruit of Poncirus L. Raf)
  • persimmon (fruit of Diospyros spp. L.)
  • durian (fruits of Durio zibethinus Murray)
  • cotton (bolls) (fruits (bolls) of Gossypium spp.)
  • curry leaves (leaves of Murraya spp.)
  • banana and plantain (fruits of Musa spp.)
  • mango (fruits of Mangifera spp. L.)
  • dates (fruits of Phoenix dactylifera L.)
  • passionfruit (fruits of Passiflora spp. L)
  • guava (fruits of Psidium spp.)
  • any fruit and vegetables that are processed and packaged (for example, soups, salads, sandwiches, frozen material)
  • composite products (for example, nut or seed butters that contain processed fruit or vegetables)

Importing prohibited goods

Some goods are prohibited from entering Great Britain from non-EU countries and from EU countries, if they can’t meet the import requirements for scientifically justified reasons.

It may be possible to import prohibited goods into Great Britain with a scientific licence, if they meet the qualifying criteria. You can find more information at Moving prohibited plants, plant pests, pathogens and soil.

Importing goods with wood packaging material

If you import any goods using wood packaging material (WPM), or supply WPM to businesses, you need to meet ISPM15 international standards.

Artificially propagated specimens

You may be able to use a phytosanitary certificate as an alternative to CITES export documents for movements of some artificially propagated specimens from the EU to the UK.

Please email the APHA CITES team at wildlife.licensing@apha.gov.uk for further information.

Complaints and appeals

You can complain or appeal if you’re unsatisfied with the service you receive from APHA.

Contact

For more information on plant imports in England and Wales, email planthealth.info@apha.gov.uk or phone 0300 1000 313.

For contact details and more information on plant imports in Scotland, visit the Scottish government’s plant health guidance.

If you need help with your customs declaration

You can call the HMRC helpline 0300 322 9434. Monday to Friday 8am to 10pm, and Saturday to Sunday 8am to 4pm.

Published 31 December 2020
Last updated 20 December 2021 + show all updates
  1. Added information about how to get help with your customs declaration.

  2. Guidance updated to show change in rules from 1 January 2022 for imports from the Republic of Ireland to Great Britain

  3. Information added on who should use the IPAFFs IT import system and who should use PEACH IT import system from 1 January added to section ‘Register and pre-notify your goods on the relevant import IT system’.

  4. Updated with new dates for the introduction of controls on imports of plants and plant products.

  5. Updated with new dates for when you’ll need to pre-notify imports from the EU, for when they need to enter Great Britain through a Border Control Post (BCP) and fees.

  6. First published.