Guidance

Importing plants, fruit, vegetables, cut flowers and other regulated objects to the UK

How to import plants, fruit, vegetables, cut flowers and machinery to the UK from outside the EU.

You usually need to register as an importer and get a certificate to import controlled plants, fruit, vegetables, cut flowers and other regulated objects from outside the EU. Controlled materials are:

  • all plants for planting
  • common fruits (except for bananas and pineapples) other than fruit preserved by deep freezing
  • cut flowers
  • some seeds and 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

If you’re not sure whether the item you want to bring to the UK is controlled, check the list of plant species by import category or contact APHA.

Find out how to send or receive plants within the EU and how to export plants to non-EU countries.

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

When you do not need to get a certificate

You can import small quantities of plant produce and up to a total of 5 controlled plants without a phytosanitary certificate from certain countries provided that the material is:

  • in your personal baggage
  • for your personal use
  • not diseased or infected with pests

Register as an importer

You must follow the Procedure for Electronic Application for Certificates from the Horticultural marketing inspectorate (PEACH).

Register for PEACH before you start importing plants.

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

Get a phytosanitary certificate

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

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

  • has been officially inspected
  • complies with legal requirements for entry into the EU
  • is free from serious pests and diseases

The inspection referred to in the certificate 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.

If your consignment includes materials from more than one country, you’ll need to get a separate phytosanitary certificate from the plant health authority in each country.

Quantity

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

For cut flowers 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. The plant health authority may use quantity measures for consignments bound for other countries, so you will need to tell them about the measures required for UK-bound consignments.

Log a pre-arrival notification

You must use the PEACH website to give advance notice each time you bring a consignment to the UK.

You must give notice:

  • for material brought by air, at least 4 working hours before the relevant material lands in the UK
  • for material not brought by air, at least 3 working days before the relevant material arrives in the UK

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

Choose a point of entry

You can use these designated points of entry to bring your consignment into the UK.

You’ll be able to select the point of entry you want to use from a drop down list on the PEACH website.

Heathrow or Manchester

Consignments can be inspected at Heathrow or Manchester from 6am until midnight everyday.

APHA will inspect your consignment within 4 hours of it arriving as long as:

  • you’ve given the required 4 working hours’ notice
  • it arrives and is presented for inspection at the time you indicated on your PEACH application

Gatwick or Stansted

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

APHA will inspect your consignment within 4 hours of it becoming available for inspection (that is, after you bring it to the office), as long as:

  • you’ve given the required 4 working hours’ notice
  • it arrives and is presented for inspection at the time you indicated on your PEACH application

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 your consignment within one working day of it becoming available for inspection (that is after you bring it to the office), as long as:

  • you’ve given the required 4 working hours’ notice
  • it arrives and is presented for inspection at the time you indicated on your PEACH application

Seaports and approved inland inspection points

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

APHA will inspect your consignment within 1 working day of it becoming available (meaning once the port has moved it to the approved inspection facility), as long as you’ve given the required 3 working days’ notice.

Alternative inspection posts

Inspections can also be carried out at:

Apply to:

Get materials inspected at the UK border

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

  • includes all required documents
  • contains the plants you have said it does
  • 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 phytosanitary and reforwarding certificates for inspection yourself when you arrive in the UK.

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

Inspection fees

For each consignment imported you have to pay the following fees:

  • £10.51 to cover the cost of checking the consignment’s paperwork and identity
  • physical inspection fee - how much you pay will depend on the type of plant material you import

See Schedule 1 of the Plant Health etc. (Miscellaneous Fees) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2019.

Reduced inspection fees

Some plant material, imported from particular countries, is eligible for a reduced level of physical inspection. This may mean a lower inspection fee.

Check schedule 2 of the Plant Health etc. (Miscellaneous Fees) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2019 to find out if your consignment qualifies for a lower inspection fee. The EU reviews the levels of reduced checks every year. The UK implements any changes to the level of checks and fees in January each year.

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

Consignments travelling through another EU state

If your consignment travelled through another EU member state, the plant health authority in the other member state will have taken the phytosanitary certificate and replaced it with a ‘plant health movement document’.

In this case, send the plant health movement document to APHA instead.

Complaints and appeals

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

Published 29 July 2015
Last updated 11 October 2019 + show all updates
  1. Updated the address from Sand Hutton to York In the 'submit documents after your consignment arrives' section
  2. Updated inspection fees section due to 2019 regulations.
  3. Update to content
  4. Title and subtitle change
  5. Inspection hours updated for Manchester airport
  6. Personal allowance section updated
  7. Address to submit documents after your consignment has arrived has been updated.
  8. Points of entry section - removed information on arrivals outside working hours due to new fees regulation that into force on 6 April 2018.
  9. Updated inspection fees section due to 2018 regulations.
  10. Change of address for consignments landing at Heathrow or Gatwick
  11. Removed Birmingham airport from the points of entry section.
  12. Inspection fee section updated due to changes in regulations.
  13. Changed room number on address for Sand Hutton - submitting documents after your consignment arrives
  14. Note added about the EU ban of some plant products originating in Ghana
  15. First published.
  1. Step 1 Check if you need to follow this process

    There are several tasks you need to do before you can get goods through customs.

    1. Check the whole process for importing goods from countries outside the EU

    Most businesses that import goods hire a transporter or customs agent to make the import declaration and clear their goods through UK customs.

  2. Step 2 Set up your business for making customs declarations

    The business importing the goods and any transporter or customs agent acting on their behalf both need an EORI number.

    1. Get an EORI number

    You'll use the Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight (CHIEF) system to make a declaration. You'll need to both:

    You can apply for simplified declaration procedures and for Authorised Economic Operator status. These are most suitable for businesses that import goods regularly.

    1. Find out about using simplified declaration procedures
    2. Check if Authorised Economic Operator status is right for you
  3. and Register to import goods with restrictions

  4. Step 3 Set up a duty deferment account if you import regularly

    Set up a duty deferment account if you want to be able to make one payment of customs duties a month instead of paying for individual shipments.

    You must set one up if you use simplified procedures.

    1. Set up a duty deferment account
  5. Step 4 Arrange for the goods to be inspected

    You need to choose a place where the goods can be inspected if you import things like plant or animal products. 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.

    1. Find out what rules you need to follow to get the goods inspected
  6. Step 5 Submit the import declaration

  7. Step 6 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
  8. Step 7 Get the goods released if they're held up at the border

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

    • 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