Guidance

Import plants and plant products from non-EU countries to Great Britain and Northern Ireland

How to import plants, fruit, vegetables, cut flowers, trees and agricultural machinery from non-EU third countries to GB and NI.

‘Plant’ means a living plant (including trees) or a living part of a plant (including a living part of a 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.

Import plants and plant products from non-EU third countries to Northern Ireland

There are no changes to the way plants are imported from non-EU third countries to Northern Ireland. Imports can continue in the same way as before.

Import from non-EU third countries to GB

You must have a phytosanitary (health) certificate (PC) for almost all plants and living parts of plants, including all seeds for planting, entering Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales) from non-EU third countries.

You may also need to register as an importer and pre-notify the plant health authority to import certain regulated plants, fruit, vegetables, cut flowers and other objects.

Regulated materials that require pre-notification are:

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

If you’re not sure whether the item you want to bring to GB is regulated and requires pre-notification, check the list of plant species by import category or contact the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA).

If you’re importing organic produce, there are extra tasks you need to complete. Find out how to import organic products into the UK.

Register as an importer

You must register as an importer on PEACH before you start importing plants.

After registering you can follow the progress of your consignments through the required checks on the PEACH website.

The PEACH system will be changing to a new IT system in early 2021. You will be contacted to register for the new system when this happens. Until then, you should continue to use PEACH for pre-notification.

Get a phytosanitary certificate (PC)

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

The PC is a statement from the plant health authority that the consignment:

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

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

The certificate must be signed by someone in the inspecting plant health authority within the same 14-day period.

When you do not need to get a PC

You do not need a PC to import these plants to GB:

  • 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 plants and plant products that won’t need a PC for import to GB.

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

Any plants or plant products not included on this PC exemption list will be subject to import regulations and will need a PC.

Quantity

PCs include a ‘quantity declared’ section. Tell the plant health authority that’s completing the form to fill in the quantities as follows.

For cut flowers the quantity must be stated as the number of stems.

Quantities must be stated in kilograms (kg) for fruit, vegetables, soil and branches with foliage, potatoes, grain and the following plants for planting:

  • bulbs
  • corms and rhizomes
  • plants in tissue culture
  • seeds

For any other plants for planting, the quantity must be recorded as the number of items in the consignment.

It’s up to you to make sure quantities are stated in this way.

Making a pre-notification

You must register on the PEACH website before you start importing plants.

To access PEACH, you’ll be prompted to register with Government Gateway. You can register with Government Gateway on the PEACH website.

After registering with both Government Gateway and PEACH you will be able to use the PEACH to make a pre-notification and follow the progress of your consignments.

You must give advance notice to the responsible authority each time you bring a regulated consignment to the UK.

You must give notice for material:

  • at least 4 working hours before the goods land in the UK, for air and ‘roll-on-roll-off’ freight
  • at least 1 working day before the goods arrive in the UK for all other freight

You must also scan the following documents and upload them to the PEACH website before your consignment arrives:

You’ll be able to select the points of entry you want to use from a drop down list on the PEACH website. You can use these Border Control Posts to bring your consignment into the UK.

The following shows the level of service APHA will provide at various points of entry. This level of service will not apply, however, if your consignment:

  • import documentation is incorrect
  • is not available for inspection at the time you indicated on your PEACH application

Your consignment may be held overnight to allow further inspection or checks on the documentation.

Heathrow, Gatwick or Stansted airports

Consignments can be inspected at:

  • Heathrow airport from 6am until midnight every day
  • Gatwick or Stansted airports between 8:30am and 5pm from Monday to Friday (except UK bank holidays)

APHA will inspect or release your consignment within 4 working hours of it arriving at the inspection area if you have given 4 working hours’ notice.

Other airports

Consignments can be inspected at other airports between 8:30am and 5pm from Monday to Friday (except UK bank holidays).

APHA will inspect or release your consignment within 4 working hours of it arriving at the inspection area if you have given 4 working hours’ notice.

Seaports

Consignments can be inspected at seaports between 8:30am and 5pm from Monday to Friday (except UK bank holidays).

APHA will inspect your consignment within one working day of it becoming available if you have given one working day’s notice.

Alternative inspection posts

Inspections can also be carried out at control points, customs authorised as:

Apply to:

Get materials inspected at the GB border

When it arrives in GB, your consignment must be presented for inspection to check it:

  • includes all required documents
  • contains the plants you have declared
  • is free from pests and diseases

If your consignment doesn’t pass an inspection it may be destroyed, treated or sent back to where you sent it from at your expense.

How to present certificates for inspection

If you’re travelling with your consignment, you can provide PCs and reforwarding certificates for inspection yourself when you arrive in GB.

If you’re shipping the consignment by post, put the certificates in an envelope marked ‘For the attention of Border Force’ and attach it to the outside of your package.

If you have more than one package, attach certified copies of the PCs and reforwarding certificates to each package.

A certified copy is a copy signed by the plant health authority that drew up the certificate.

Fees and charges

For each consignment imported from a non-EU third country you’ll have to pay fees.

Read Schedules 1 and 2 of the Plant Health etc. (Miscellaneous Fees) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2019 for the full list of import inspection fees.

Fees and charges from 1 June 2021

Inspection fees for documentary and identity checks will be split from 1 June 2021.

How much you have to pay in England and Wales will depend on the type of plant material you import, including its risk level.

Import from non-EU countries to GB via the EU

Plants and plant products from non-EU third countries imported to GB, after passing plant health checks in the EU, will be treated by GB as if they were an EU import as long as they entered into free circulation in the EU. The phased import approach will apply to these goods.

Submit documents after your consignment arrives

Within 3 days of your consignment reaching the UK, 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

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, email planthealth.info@apha.gov.uk or phone 0300 1000 313.

Published 29 July 2015
Last updated 11 March 2021 + show all updates
  1. Updated with new dates for fees.

  2. Updated with guidance on how to comply with rules from 1 January

  3. Updated the choose a point of entry section

  4. Updated the address from Sand Hutton to York In the 'submit documents after your consignment arrives' section

  5. Updated inspection fees section due to 2019 regulations.

  6. Update to content

  7. Title and subtitle change

  8. Inspection hours updated for Manchester airport

  9. Personal allowance section updated

  10. Address to submit documents after your consignment has arrived has been updated.

  11. Points of entry section - removed information on arrivals outside working hours due to new fees regulation that into force on 6 April 2018.

  12. Updated inspection fees section due to 2018 regulations.

  13. Change of address for consignments landing at Heathrow or Gatwick

  14. Removed Birmingham airport from the points of entry section.

  15. Inspection fee section updated due to changes in regulations.

  16. Changed room number on address for Sand Hutton - submitting documents after your consignment arrives

  17. Note added about the EU ban of some plant products originating in Ghana

  18. First published.

  1. Step 1 Check if you need to follow this process

    Follow these steps to get your goods for import through UK customs if you’re managing the process yourself.

    Getting customs clearance is complicated. You can hire a transporter or customs agent to make the import declaration and get your goods through UK customs.

    1. Hire someone to deal with customs for you

    Your business must be ready to import the goods before you can get customs clearance.

    1. Find out about importing goods from the UK
    1. Check if you need to make an import declaration
  2. Step 2 Set up your business for making import declarations

    You need an EORI number that starts with GB to import goods into England, Wales or Scotland. You'll need a new one if you have an EORI that does not start with GB.

    If you move goods to or from Northern Ireland you may need one that starts with XI.

    1. Get an EORI number

    Depending on where you're moving goods, you need to be registered on the right systems and have compatible software to make declarations.

    1. Check what systems and software you need to make declarations
  3. Step 3 Check if you can make the customs process quicker

    There are processes that can make clearing customs quicker and easier to manage if you have to make import declarations regularly.

    1. Find out about using simplified declaration procedures
    2. Check if Authorised Economic Operator status is right for you

    If you're importing goods from the EU to England, Scotland or Wales (Great Britain) you might be able to delay making a declaration for up to 6 months.

    1. Check if you can declare your goods later if you're importing goods from the EU

    If you regularly import goods using Common Transit, you can apply to start movements of goods at your own premises.

    1. Check if consignee status is right for your business
  4. Step 4 Register to import goods with restrictions

    You need to register as an importer if you import things like plant or animal products, high-risk food or feed, medicines, textiles, chemicals or firearms.

    Register to import:

  5. Step 5 Check if you need a licence or certificate for your goods

  6. and Check the labelling, marking and marketing rules

  7. Step 6 Arrange for the goods to be inspected

    If you import things like plant or animal products, you need to choose a place where the goods can be inspected. This needs to happen before they’re allowed through the UK border.

    1. Find an inspection point for animals and animal products
    2. Find an inspection point for plants, plant products, seeds and wood
    3. Find an inspection point for high risk food and feed that is not of animal origin
    4. Find an inspection point for endangered species, or products made from endangered plants or animals

    You need to let the inspection point know when the goods are arriving. You might have to pay a fee for the inspection.

  8. Step 7 Submit the import declaration

    1. Find out how to submit import declarations

    If you're importing goods from the EU to England, Scotland or Wales (Great Britain) you might be able to delay making a declaration for up to 6 months.

    1. Check if you can declare your goods later to make the importing process quicker
  9. Step 8 Pay VAT and duty

    HMRC will tell you how much to pay after you submit the declaration.

    1. Find out how and when to pay VAT and duty
  10. Step 9 Get the goods released if they're held up at the border

    The goods may be held at the border if, for example:

    • you have not paid the right amount of duty or VAT
    • you do not have the right import licences for the goods or business
    • they did not pass inspection
    • they've been combined with a shipment that has been held up

    If this happens you will be told why.

    1. Contact the National Clearance Hub to get help