Guidance

Importing and exporting plants and plant products if there’s a no-deal Brexit

How to trade in plants and plant products, including trees, inside and outside the EU if there’s a no-deal Brexit.

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‘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 from the EU

The majority of plants and plant products (including fruit, vegetables and cut flowers) imported from the EU will continue to enter the UK freely.

Any plants and plant products currently managed under the EU plant passport scheme will be subject to UK import controls and become ‘regulated commodities’ after a no-deal Brexit. This replaces the EU plant passport’s assurance and traceability, and maintains biosecurity.

When you import plants or plant products that are currently managed under the EU plant passport scheme, you’ll need to:

Notice periods for imports originating in the EU that require a phytosanitary certificate: regulated commodities

You must notify the relevant plant health authority of a consignment’s arrival into the UK from the EU. There is no set notice period - you can give notice at any time up to the point that the consignment enters the UK.

How to find your relevant plant health authority

Give notice by informing the relevant plant health authority on the PEACH website for England and Wales.

Importers in Scotland and Northern Ireland use their own plant health authorities.

How to register timber products for import

You must inform the Forestry Commission.

How border checks will be carried out

Regulated plants and plant products originating in the EU will not be stopped at the border.

The relevant UK plant health authority will carry out their documentary and identity checks remotely. This will be a virtual check using the documents submitted as part of the pre-notification and will not require the goods to stop inland. You will be charged for these checks by the plant health authority. You will also be charged for any Forestry Commission checks.

Plant health inspectors will continue to carry out follow-up surveillance and inspections inland in line with current policies. The government does not charge for such inspections.

Steps to take now to prepare for Brexit

You can prepare by:

Importing plants and plant products from third countries via the EU

Find out how to import plants, fruit, vegetables and plant materials to the UK from third countries and how to import and export wood and timber products using the current rules.

The EU does not have to carry out plant health checks on regulated third-country goods going to the UK if there’s a no-deal Brexit.

Plants and plant products that come from third countries via the EU without plant health checks by an EU member state, will be treated as third-country imports.

Many plants and plant products entering the UK via the EU arrive at fast-moving roll-on roll-off (RoRo) ports where checks at the border would create significant disruptions to traffic. All third-country plant health regulated material arriving in the UK via RoRo ports requiring checks will have to go to a plant health approved facility for inspection.

These facilities include:

  • Place of First Arrival (PoFA) - trade premises that have been authorised to host plant health controls on third country material entering the UK via the EU at RoRo ports
  • other facilities that have been authorised for Plant Health control (‘alternative inspection posts’)

You must ensure that plant health checks are carried out on third-country material entering the UK via the EU by doing one of the following:

You will be charged for checks on third country plant health material by the relevant plant health authority.

How to register as a place of first arrival

You may need to speak to suppliers about whether the plants and plant products they import from third countries are likely to move to the UK via the EU. Consider whether to apply for PoFA status before Brexit.

To import third-country material that need plant health checks in the UK via RoRo ports, you’ll need to have access to a PoFA. You can register your own PoFA by:

  • reading the PoFA standards and take any necessary steps to ensure your premises meet the requirements
  • applying to be authorised by the relevant plant health authority - you’ll need to complete the relevant PoFA form for plant and plant products or for wood and timber products

To bring in material for checks at an authorised PoFA, you will need to:

  • read the PoFA standards and take any necessary steps to ensure your premises meet the requirements
  • apply to be authorised by the relevant plant health authority - you’ll need to complete the relevant PoFA form for plant and plant products or for wood and timber products.
  • for goods that are entering the UK via a RoRo port in England or Wales, give notice of a consignment’s arrival and its location to the plant health authority using the PEACH website
  • for goods that are entering the UK via a RoRo port in Scotland or Northern Ireland, give notice to the relevant plant health authority
  • for regulated wood, wood products or bark, complete a Notice of Landing form for Forestry Commission checks
  • hold consignments at your premises until the plant health authority has carried out its checks and released the goods

Preparing your premises for Place of First Arrival (PoFA) approval

If your goods are entering the UK at a RoRo port in England or Wales, follow these steps to prepare your premises for PoFA:

  1. Register on the PEACH website or with the Forestry Commission as a registered trader if you are in England or Wales.
  2. Apply to the Animal and Plant Health Agency or the Forestry Commission for your premises to be authorised as a PoFA.
  3. Speak to suppliers about whether the plants and plant products they import from the EU may need third country checks in the UK after Brexit.
  4. Consider using alternative authorised points of entry that avoid RoRo ports.

Notice periods for imports from third countries via the EU

You must give notice each time you bring a consignment of regulated goods to the UK from third countries for:

  • consignments brought in by air - 4 working hours
  • consignment being brought in by another route - 3 working days

Exporting plants and plant products to the EU

The UK will become a third country and will need to meet EU third country import requirements to export regulated plants and plant products to the EU if there’s a no-deal Brexit.

For exports to the EU third-country rules will apply on all:

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:

  • check whether a phytosanitary certificate (PC) is required by contacting the plant health authority or a plant health inspector in the destination country
  • apply for a PC from the relevant UK plant health authority before export - if you’re based in England and Wales you will need to register on the eDomero system to apply for a PC
  • check if your plants require laboratory testing of samples to ensure they are free from pests and diseases or inspections during the growing season - contact your local plant health inspector to find out if your plants need these tests before exporting

These services are subject to fees and charges.

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

Steps to take now to prepare for a no-deal Brexit

To prepare for Brexit you need to:

Prepare for Smarter Rules for Safer Food regulations

New EU regulations about importing plants and plant products from third countries come into force under the Smarter Rules for Safer Food (SRSF) package on 14 December 2019. This means that all relevant plants and plant products will need a phytosanitary certificate upon entry to the EU unless exempted.

Exempted food includes processed food or food products, for example prepared salads, sandwiches and stir-fry mixes.

The list of relevant plants and plant products which need a phytosanitary certificate for export to the EU will significantly increase under SRSF. The introduction of these changes for exports to the EU is not dependent on Brexit.

The EU SRSF plant health import requirements (PDF, 273KB, 10 pages) guide lists all plants and plant products originating in the UK that will require a phytosanitary certificate for export to the EU. Exporters should check with the relevant plant health authority in the importing country to find out what controls will apply when exporting plants and plant products.

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 if the UK leaves the EU without a deal

The UK cannot designate all or parts of the UK as an EU Protected Zones if there’s a no-deal Brexit.

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

Quarantine pest designation

This will designate the existing plant pests and diseases covered by Protected Zone arrangements as ‘quarantine pests’. 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 if the UK leaves the EU without a deal.

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 if the UK leaves the EU without a deal.

How to move goods into or within a UK Pest Free Area if there’s a no-deal Brexit

Plants and plant products currently covered by EU plant passports for movements within the UK will need to be moved with a UK plant passport. When moving controlled plants in the UK, you’ll need to:

  • register with the relevant UK plant health authority
  • be authorised to issue plant passports
  • replace references to ‘EU’ with ‘UK’ when issuing plant passports

If you are an existing user of EU plant passports, you do not need to reissue a UK passport but you will need to change the title of your passport from ‘EU’ to ‘UK’.

If you’re providing a UK plant passport to move restricted plants into a UK PFA, you must include ‘PFA’ on the passport, rather than ‘ZP’ followed by the code for that PFA. Codes for PFAs will be the same as the codes for the PZs that they are replacing. For example, the code for ‘Ips Cembrae’ is (a)9.

Find details on Pest Free Areas and what plants must have passports (PDF, 271KB, 3 pages) if there’s a no-deal Brexit.

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

All WPM moving between the UK and the EU must meet ISPM15 international standards by undergoing heat treatment and marking if there’s a no-deal Brexit. 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 as a result of Brexit.

Steps to take now to prepare for a no-deal Brexit

Contact your supplier or TIMCON if you need more advice about moving WPM if the UK leaves the EU with no deal.

Trade agreements

There will be no implementation period after exit day.

Any new agreements will replicate existing EU agreements as far as possible. Where replacement trade agreements are not agreed, trade would 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.

Read the guidance on existing free trade agreements if there’s no Brexit deal.

Published 19 December 2018
Last updated 8 October 2019 + show all updates
  1. "No Deal Export Requirements"document updated in "check with the relevant UK plant health authority to find out if consignments need a PC or read the No Deal Export Requirements"
  2. Explains how to prepare for the new EU Smarter Rules for Safer Food regulations
  3. Changed EU exit date to 31 October 2019
  4. Added PDF on No Deal Requirements in 'Exporting plants and plant products to the EU' section
  5. Removed link to HMRC partnership pack because this document has been withdrawn and is no longer relevant.
  6. Replaced the 'Moving regulated plants and plant products within the UK' section with guidance on Plant Passports and Pest Free Areas.
  7. Updated with guidance on notice periods following EU exit.
  8. Added explanation about third country agreements if the UK exits the EU with no deal.
  9. EU exit information clarified
  10. Added information about what to do if the UK leaves the EU with no deal.
  11. Information on how to prepare for EU exit and what to do after a no deal Brexit added.
  12. Changed Plant and plant products currently covered by EU plant passports will be managed now when moved within the UK. to Plant and plant products currently covered by EU plant passports for movements within the UK will need to be moved with a UK plant passport.
  13. added explanation of Place of First Arrival premises and changed "allow health checks at your premises" to "ensure that plant health checks are carried out on third country material entering the UK via the EU"
  14. Explained that UK plant health authority checks will be: "This will be a virtual check using the documents submitted as part of the pre-notification and will not require the goods to stop inland. These checks would be charged for by the plant health authority"
  15. First published.