Guidance

Importing and exporting plants and plant products from 1 January 2021

How to trade in plants and plant products, including trees, inside and outside the EU from 1 January 2021.

New rules for January 2021

The UK has left the EU, and the transition period after Brexit comes to an end this year.

This page tells you what you'll need to do from 1 January 2021. It will be updated if anything changes.

You can also read about the transition period.

‘Plant’ means a living plant (including a fungus or tree) or a living part of a plant (including a living part of a fungus or shrub), at any stage of growth.

‘Plant product’ means products of plant origin, unprocessed or having undergone simple preparation, in so far as these are not plants, including wood and bark.

Importing plants and plant products into England, Scotland and Wales from the EU

The UK has left the EU. There will be new processes that importers must follow in 2021. These processes will start in 3 stages.

Importing plants and plant products from the EU from 1 January 2021

High-priority plants and plant products from the EU must have:

  • a phytosanitary certificate (PC)
  • a pre-notification submitted by the importer in England, Scotland or Wales
  • documentary and identity checks
  • a physical inspection

You will have to pay for these services.

The plant types on this list include:

  • all plants for planting
  • ware potatoes
  • some seed and timber
  • used agricultural or forestry machinery

See the new import requirements for high priority plants and products from 1 January 2021 (ODT, 9.02KB).

You must pre-notify for imports of solid fuel wood that are not regulated. You do not need a PC for these imports.

Importing plants and plant products from 1 April 2021

You must use the relevant IT system to notify the Animal Plant Health Agency (APHA) that you’re importing regulated plants and plant products. This guide will publish details of these IT systems before 1 January 2021.

All regulated plants and plant products imported to England, Scotland or Wales from the EU must have phytosanitary certificates (PCs), which takes up to 7 days to get. Find out how to get a phytosanitary certificate.

APHA will inspect the PCs in England and Wales. The Scottish Government will inspect PCs in Scotland.

Regulated plants and plant products include:

  • all plants for planting
  • root and tubercle vegetables
  • some common fruits other than fruit preserves by deep freezing
  • some cut flowers
  • some seeds and grains
  • leafy vegetables other than vegetables preserved by deep freezing
  • potatoes from some countries
  • machinery or vehicles which have been operated for agricultural or forestry purposes

Plants that will not need a phytosanitary certificate for EU import from 1 April 2021

You will not need a phytosanitary certificate for these plants from 1 April 2021:

  • fruit and vegetables that have been processed and packaged (salads, sandwiches, frozen material)
  • composite products (nut or seed butters that contain processed fruit or vegetables)

This list shows the other plant and plant products that you do not need a phytosanitary certificate to import from the EU to the UK from 1 April 2021.

Botanical name and requirement Common name
Fruit of Ananas comosus Pineapple
Fruits of Actinidia sp. Lindl, Kiwi
Fruits of Cocos nucifera L Coconut
Fruit and leaves of Citrus sp. L. Fruit and leaves of Citrus
Fruit of Fortunella sp. Swingle Kumquat
Fruit of Poncirus L. Raf Bitter orange
Fruit of Diospyros sp. L. Persimmon
Fruits of Durio zibethinus Murray Durian
Fruits (bolls) of Gossypium spp. Cotton (bolls)
Leaves of Murraya spp. Curry leaf
Fruits of Musa Banana and plantain
Fruits of Mangifera sp. L. Mango
Fruits of Phoenix dactylifera L. Dates
Fruits of Passiflora sp. L Passionfruit
Fruits of Psidium sp. Guava

Importing plants and plant products from 1 July 2021

Regulated plants and plant products will have extra documentary checks and physical inspections.

You must use the relevant IT system to notify APHA that you’re importing regulated plants and plant products. This guide will publish details of these IT systems before 1 January 2021

Exempt plants and plant products for import

These plants and plant products are already exempt from import controls in England, Scotland and Wales:

  • pineapple
  • coconut
  • durian
  • bananas
  • dates

They will continue to be exempt from import controls after 31 December 2020.

Importing high-risk plants and plant products

High-risk plants are plants and plant products that due to pest risk level are prohibited from introduction into the UK from third countries pending a risk assessment.

See the full list of high-risk plants and plant products.

The prohibition will not apply to the import of high-risk plants and plant products from the EU to the UK from 1 January 2021.

Steps to take now to prepare for 1 January 2021

To prepare for 1 January 2021 you need to:

  • familiarise yourself with phytosanitary import certificate requirements
  • think about if you will set up a UK registered address, or appoint a UK-based proxy to act on your behalf, to import plants and products to England, Scotland or Wales
  • register with the Forestry Commission as a professional operator if you’re importing wood or wood products to England and Wales - importers in Scotland and Northern Ireland should refer to local guidance

Exporting plants and plant products from England, Scotland or Wales to the EU

From 1 January 2021, all regulated plants and plant products exported from England, Scotland or Wales to the EU will be subject to EU import controls in line with goods exported from the rest of the world.

Regulated plants and plant products include:

  • all plants for planting
  • root and tubercle vegetables;
  • most fruits
  • cut flowers
  • some seeds
  • leafy vegetables
  • machinery or vehicles which have been operated for agricultural or forestry purposes

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

Understand how to apply for plant variety rights and market plant reproductive material, seeds and other propagating material from 1 January 2021.

The process for sending regulated plants and plant products to the EU will be the same as the current process for sending them to third countries. When you export regulated plants and plant products to third countries, you need to:

Growing season inspections which you need to apply for a phytosanitary certificate will remain unchanged from 1 January 2021.

The IT systems to apply for an export phytosanitary certificate for plants and plant products are changing, moving from the current eDomero system to a new service. You should continue to use eDomero until you are directed to register and use the new service.

The timing and sequencing of this migration will ensure a smooth and orderly transfer between systems and will allow sufficient time for you to become familiar with the new service. Defra will provide full training and support before, during and after migration. Scotland will continue to use existing systems.

Regulated plant and plant products exports to the EU from the UK may be subject to documentary, identity and physical checks at the EU border.

Exempt plants and plant products for export

These plants and plant products are already exempt from controls to export to EU member states:

  • pineapple
  • coconut
  • durian
  • bananas
  • dates

They will continue to be exempt from export controls after 31 December 2020.

Plant products such as fruit and vegetables that have been processed and packaged to the point that they no longer pose a biosecurity risk, will also be exempt from controls in EU member states.

Composite products like nut and seed butters containing processed fruit or vegetables do not fall within plant health controls or require a phytosanitary certificate.

Exporting prohibited and high-risk plants

From 1 January 2021, you cannot export some prohibited commodities such as UK high-risk plants, seed potatoes and ware potatoes to the EU.

These prohibitions and requirements fall into 3 categories: high-risk plants, seed and other propagating materials, and prohibited plants.

High-risk plants

These are plants and plant products that have been assessed by the EU as presenting a pest risk of an unacceptable level for the Union territory.

See the full list of high-risk plants.

The high-risk plant list is continually reviewed by the UK and the EU. Defra will publish any updates to the list in this guide.

Seed and other propagating material requiring third country equivalence

You cannot export seed and other propagating material to the EU from 1 January 2021.

Prohibited plants

Some plants will be prohibited on plant health grounds, including current EU third country prohibitions.

List of prohibited plants
Plants of Abies Mill., Cedrus Trew, Chamaecyparis Spach, Juniperus L., Larix Mill., Picea A. Dietr., Pinus L., Pseudotsuga Carr. and Tsuga Carr., other than fruit and seeds
Plants of Castanea Mill. and Quercus L., with leaves, other than fruit and seeds
Isolated bark of Castanea Mill
Plants for planting of Chaenomeles Ldl., Crateagus L., Cydonia Mill., Malus Mill., Prunus L., Pyrus L. and Rosa L., other than dormant plants free from leaves, flowers and fruits
Plants for planting of Cydonia Mill., Malus Mill., Prunus L. and Pyrus L. and their hybrids, and Fragaria L., other than seeds
Plants of Vitis L., other than fruits
Plants of Citrus L., Fortunella Swingle, Poncirus Raf., and their hybrids, other than fruits and seeds
Plants for planting of the family Poaceae, other than plants of ornamental perennial grasses of the subfamilies Bambusoideae and Panicoideae and of the genera Buchloe, Bouteloua Lag., Calamagrostis, Cortaderia Stapf., Glyceria R. Br., Hakonechloa Mak. Ex Honda, Hystrix, Molinia, Phalaris L., Shibataea, Spartina Schreb., Stipa L. and Uniola L., other than seeds
Tubers of Solanum tuberosum L., seed potatoes
Plants for planting of stolon- or tuber-forming species of Solanum L. or their hybrids
Tubers of species of Solanum L., and their hybrids
Plants for planting of Solanaceae
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 L., previously not used for growing of plants or for any agricultural purposes

Steps to take now to prepare for 1 January 2021

To prepare for 1 January 2021 you need to:

  • check with the relevant UK plant health authority to find out if plants and plant products you intend to export to the EU from 1 January 2021 need to be accompanied by a PC
  • check with the relevant plant health authority and use this guide to find out if plants and plant products you intend to export to the EU from 1 January 2021 are classified as prohibited or high-risk plants
  • check with the relevant UK plant health authority to find out if plants and plant products you intend to export to the EU require growing season inspections to apply for a phytosanitary certificate
  • use the export plants, seeds, bulbs and wood guidance on EU plant health import requirements to help you prepare your export correctly
  • register with the Forestry Commission as a professional operator if you’re exporting wood or wood products from England and Wales - exporters in Scotland and Northern Ireland should refer to local guidance

UK plant health authorities

The UK has 4 plant health authorities you can use to check if plants and plant products you intend to export to the EU from 1 January 2021 need to be accompanied by a PC.

England

Contact your local APHA Plant Health and Seeds Inspector or contact the Plant Health and Seeds Inspectorate (PHSI):

PHSI Headquarters
Sand Hutton
York
telephone: 0300 1000 313 - select option 3 when calling
email: <planthealth.info@apha.gov.uk>

Wales

The relevant plant authority in Wales is the Plants, seeds and biotechnology department. Contact your local APHA Plant Health and Seeds Inspector or contact the Plant Health and Seeds Inspectorate (PHSI):

PHSI Headquarters
Sand Hutton
York
telephone: 0300 1000 313 - select option 3 when calling
email: <planthealth.info@apha.gov.uk>

Scotland

Horticulture, Plant Health, Potatoes and Seeds - The Scottish Government Email the Scottish Government’s Horticulture and Marketing Unit hort.marketing@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>

Move regulated plant material from 1 January 2021

If you’re already authorised to issue plant passports, you do not need a new authorisation to issue UK plant passports.

You must renew your authorisations every year through an audit inspection to check for compliance. Contact APHA to renew your authorisation each year.

You cannot attach UK plant passports in the EU. EU plant passports cannot be attached in England, Scotland or Wales (Great Britain).

An operator in the EU cannot issue a UK plant passport under GB plant health rules. A UK plant passport will be used for movements in GB under GB health rules from 1 January 2021.

From 1 January 2021, Northern Ireland will belong to a different sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) zone.

Plant passport changes

Plant passports are changing in different ways from 1 January 2021.

Content and format

The content and format will change to differentiate UK plant passports from EU plant passports. The EU plant passport will no longer be recognised as an official label in GB.

UK passports will have these changes:

  • there will be no flag
  • the words ‘Plant Passport’ will change to ‘UK Plant Passport’
  • Section B (registration number) will no longer have a‘GB’ prefix because this was only necessary on EU plant passports to differentiate between member states
  • Section D (country of origin) will remain the same except for some plants for which the UK has national measures

Section A (botanical names) and Section C (traceability codes) will remain the same.

Find out the changes to Protected Zone plant passports.

Where a plant passport is combined with a certification label, the only changes to the plant passport section will be the:

  • removal of the EU flag
  • words ‘Plant Passport’ replaced with ‘UK Plant Passport’

For some fruit and vegetable propagating material and some ornamental material you may also need a supplier document in addition to the UK plant passport. This is an existing requirement and will remain in place after 1 January 2021.

Find out more about making a supplier document for certain plants.

Old EU plant passport labels will remain valid if in circulation before 1 January 2021. From 1 January 2021, UK plant passports should be issued to state compliance with the UK’s new plant health regulations.

Country of origin

The two-letter code ‘GB’ applies to the whole of the UK, including Northern Ireland.

Guidance will change from 1 January 2021 to hosts of Xylella fastidiosa and hosts of Ceratocystis platani. The change means that these commodities must have been in the UK for a whole year following their import before a plant passport issued for their movement can list ‘GB’ as the country of origin.

This applies regardless of whether plants are grown under protection or not in the UK. Therefore, you must keep records of importation date and other details to then amend the country of origin to GB 12 months after importation.

This policy applies to the whole of the UK, including Northern Ireland.

Hosts of Xylella fastidiosa

The GB code applies to these hosts of Xylella fastidiosa:

  • plants, other than fruit or seeds of Olea europaea (olive), Coffea (coffee), Polygala myrtifolia, Prunus dulcis (almond)
  • plants, other than seeds, intended for planting, of Lavandula sp. (lavender), Nerium oleander, Rosmarinus officinalis (rosemary).

Hosts of Ceratocystis platani

The GB code applies to plants of Platanus L., intended for planting, other than seeds.

Imports with EU plant passports from 1 January 2021

Imports from the EU which currently arrive into GB with an EU plant passport will instead need a phytosanitary certificate from 1 January 2021.

The process for replacing a phytosanitary certificate with a plant passport will remain the same. Attach plant passports at the first place of destination, that is the first premises the commodities reach for drop off, such as a depot or retail outlet.

If the commodities you trade in require a plant passport now, but you simply move them on under their existing EU plant passport, from 1 January 2021 you may need authorisation to issue a UK plant passport for them. If you imported goods to the UK under a phytosanitary certificate, you only need to issue a UK plant passport for your goods if:

  • you’re moving them to another professional operator
  • you’re selling them to final users (those buying for personal use) by means of distance contract, for example online
  • you’re moving them to another of your own premises which is more than 10 miles from the premises where the consignment arrived
  • the phytosanitary status of the consignment changes, for example, if it has been grown on, or if it has been reconfigured, for example, 2 plants in separate pots have been planted in a new pot together

If you are already authorised to issue plant passports then you do not need a new authorisation to do this.

EU plant passports do not need to be invalidated when they enter GB. As the format is different to the UK plant passport they can easily be differentiated, and the EU plant passport considered invalid automatically.

Plant Passports and Pest Free Areas

Some plants and plant products must meet specific requirements to enter ‘protected zones’ within EU countries.

EU Protected Zones (PZs) allow EU member states to place controls on imports and movements between member states. This prevents the introduction or spread of plant pests and diseases which are present elsewhere in the EU but absent from the Protected Zone.

Changes to Protected Zones from 1 January 2021

The UK cannot designate all or parts of the UK as an EU Protected Zone from 1 January 2021.

The UK will replace the biosecurity protections provided by EU Protected Zones by creating 2 new designations.

Quarantine pest designation

Quarantine pests are plant pests and diseases which are not established and which would be damaging if introduced, where they are absent from the whole of the UK.

Quarantine pests are prohibited from entering the UK and are subject to statutory control if found on plants or plants products. The requirements to prevent the entry of these pests will remain the same from 1 January 2021.

Pest Free Areas (PFAs) designations

This will designate PFAs in line with international standards for those pests and diseases which are absent from part of the UK, but not the whole of the UK. PFAs are declared in line with recognised international standards and requirements. They can be applied to movements of plants and plant products into PFAs.

Both EU PZs and PFAs allow countries to control movements of plants and plant products which may carry plant pests and diseases, where the whole country or an area within the country are free from those pests or diseases. Moving from PZs to quarantine pests and PFAs will not change the requirements for goods moving within the UK.

There will be no new import or movement restrictions from the replacement of certain PZs with requirements for quarantine pests. These requirements are already in place now under the PZ system. The requirements for importing into and moving within PFAs will be the same as they currently are for the equivalent PZs.

If you are moving plants and plant products into or within UK PZs currently, you need to use an EU plant passport. You will need to use a UK plant passport if you’re moving the relevant plants and plant products into or within UK PFAs from 1 January 2021.

Read Issuing plant passports to trade plants in the EU to understand how to apply for a UK plant passport.

Movement of wood packaging material

Wood packaging material (WPM) moving between the UK and the rest of the EU can currently move freely without checks or controls.

WPM includes:

  • pallets
  • crates
  • boxes
  • cable drums
  • spools
  • dunnage

From 1 January 2021 all WPM moving between the UK and the EU must meet ISPM15 international standards by undergoing heat treatment and marking. All WPM may be subject to official checks either upon or after entry to the EU.

Checks on WPM will continue to be carried out in the UK on a risk-targeted basis only. The plant health risk from WPM imported from the EU is not expected to change from 1 January 2021.

Steps to take now to prepare

Contact your supplier or TIMCON if you need more advice about moving WPM from 1 January 2021.

Trade agreements

Any new agreements will replicate existing EU agreements as far as possible. Where replacement trade agreements are not agreed, trade will take place on World Trade Organisation (WTO) terms with that country. Details of each agreement will be shared with parliament and the public when they have been agreed.

Returned plants and plant products: policy from 1 January to 30 June 2021

Plants and plant product consignments rejected at EU BCPs can re-enter GB through any point of entry from 1 January to 30 June 2021.

For rejected goods returning to England or Wales you must submit an import pre-notification using the relevant IT system to notify APHA. This guide will publish details of these IT systems before 1 January 2021. Pre-notification must be submitted:

  • for Roll-On Roll-Off and air movements, at least 4 working hours prior to arrival
  • by all other modes of transport, at least one working day prior to arrival

For rejected goods returning to Scotland go to the Science and Advice for Scottish Agriculture (SASA) site.

You must include a copy of the original phytosanitary certificate with pre-notification. If your consignment was exported without a phytosanitary certificate please contact APHA on 0300 1000 313 before returning your goods or SASA on 0131 244 8890.

APHA 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 required someone from APHA in England and Wales or SASA in Scotland will contact you.

Published 10 June 2020
Last updated 9 October 2020 + show all updates
  1. Removed inaccurate section on ###How to move goods into or within a UK Pest Free Area from 1 January 2021

  2. Added section on Plants that do not need a phytosanitary certificate for EU import from 1 April 2021 and document showing the new import requirements for high priority plants and products from 1 January 2021. New information on the rejected goods process added.

  3. Removed publication 'the new import requirements for high priority plants and products from 1 January 2021' for policy review and further updating.

  4. Updated publication 'new import requirements for high priority plants and products from 1 January 2021'

  5. Removed document 'new import requirements for high priority plants and products from 1 January 2021' . Updated version will be approved and published today.

  6. Added document explaining the new requirements to Import high-priority plants and products from 1 January 2021

  7. New instructions on the import and export processes in 2021 - set out in 3 stages, 1 January, 1 April and 1 July 2021.

  8. First published.