Guidance

Issue plant passports to move regulated plant material in Great Britain

How growers and traders can get authorised to issue plant passports, when you need to be authorised and the plants that need passports.

Plant passports are an official document to move regulated plants and plant products within Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales).

If you’re based in England and Wales and you’re moving plants or plant products within GB they may need plant passports.

This guidance also applies if you’re moving plants or plant products within the same GB country. For example, from Kent to Yorkshire.

You must follow this guidance to move plants or plant products within England and Wales.

You can issue plant passports yourself, but you must be authorised by the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA)

For Scotland, check with SASA (Science and Advice for Scottish Agriculture).

For Northern Ireland, check with DAERA (Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs).

When you need a plant passport

Operators in GB no longer issue EU plant passports.

UK plant passports are issued in place of EU plant passports.

Check the following lists to find out if a consignment you’re trading needs a plant passport for movements within GB, the Channel Islands, and the Isle of Man:

If you’re not sure whether your consignment needs plant passports, contact APHA.

You will need a plant passport to move regulated plants and plant products within GB, to the Isle of Man and to the Channel Islands.

If you’re moving plants and plant products from GB to NI you may need a phytosanitary (health) certificate (PC).

Commodities which require a plant passport include:

  • all plants for planting
  • some seeds
  • seed potatoes

Read guidance on plant and plant product imports and exports between the UK and the EU.

Supplying retailers

There is no exemption when you directly supply retailers.

If you sell directly to retailers, you will need to be authorised to issue plant passports for any plants which fall under plant passport requirements.

Supplying customers for personal use

If you are selling plants through distance contracts (for example, online) directly to customers buying for personal use, a plant passport is still needed.

Christmas tree authorisations

If you trade in Christmas trees in England and Wales, you may need to be authorised to issue plant passports. APHA can provide authorisation if you need to move:

  • potted trees of less than 3 metres in height
  • potted trees
  • trees of any size - this includes cut trees of more than 3 metres

If you only move cut trees of more than 3 metres, you should be authorised by the Forestry Commission.

You should only need be registered with either APHA or the Forestry Commission, not both.

Trade seed potatoes

Seed potatoes must have a plant passport at every stage of the trade chain in GB. If you grow seed potatoes you must be registered as a professional operator by APHA. If you grow seed potatoes see guidance regarding the Seed Potato Classification Scheme (SPCS).

Apply to be authorised

To apply for authorisation, you need to fill in the following forms and send to APHA:

Once registered, you can apply online using eDomero (free of charge).

Inspections

After you apply for authorisation, APHA will process your application and grant you authorisation to issue plant passports. APHA will do an inspection shortly after to ensure you are compliant with the regulations.

Inspectors will:

  • interview you or the person responsible for plant passports at your site
  • audit your records
  • inspect host plants and sample them to make sure they’re free from pests or diseases that could make trading a plant health risk
  • give you or the person responsible an update on the latest plant quarantine pest and disease risks

They’ll then discuss test results and any issues they find at your site.

If they’re satisfied your site doesn’t pose a risk to plant health, your authorisation will remain approved.

Inspection fees

The fees are £61.58 for each 15 minutes (or part thereof) with a minimum fee of £123.16.

The fees are payable for each 15 minutes (or part thereof) spent in carrying out the inspection and any associated activities.

These associated activities are added to the standard hourly rate rather than directly charged for. They include the time it takes inspectors to travel to your site and any administration relevant to that inspection, subject to the minimum fees.

The fee for renewal inspections is the same as for first inspections.

An additional fee of £20.66 will be charged if you submit an application for a plant passport authorisation in paper form rather than online.

You will not have to pay if APHA authorises you to issue supplier documents only.

After you’re authorised

If you’re authorised to issue plant passports, you’ll get a unique registration number - you can then issue as many passports and supplier documents as you need.

You’ll only need a separate authorisation to issue supplier documents if you’re not already authorised to issue plant passports. For example, if you’re trading fruits and vegetables that aren’t covered by the plant passport regime.

Renewal authorisation and fees

You must contact APHA to renew your authorisation each year.

The fees for renewal inspections are the same as for first inspection fees.

UK Plant passport content and format

Passports issued before 14 December 2019 under the old regulations are valid in the old EU content format until 14 December 2023.

The content and format of plant passports has changed to differentiate UK plant passports from EU plant passports.

The EU plant passport will no longer be recognised as an official label in GB unless they are attached to Qualifying Northern Ireland Goods (QNIGs).

In NI, EU plant passports will continue to be used for internal NI movements, and for movements to the EU or GB.

UK plant passports have these changes:

  • include the words ‘UK Plant Passport’
  • include the letters ‘A, B, C, D, E’, known as ‘parts A to E’, with information following each letter
  • part B (registration number) must not have a ‘GB’ prefix because this was only necessary on EU plant passports to differentiate between member states
  • the words ‘UK Plant Passport’ must be printed in English at the top of the plant passport
  • no flag

The UK plant passport must be distinct and separate from information included on other labels.

Part A (botanical names)

You must include the botanical name(s) of the plants or plant products. This should be a full genus and species name.

A genus name is only acceptable on its own if the species name is not known. Variety or cultivar names are optional.

Part B (registration number)

You must include the alphabetical, numerical or alphanumerical national registration number of the professional operator.

Part C (traceability codes)

You must include the traceability code of the plant or plant product. This can be an existing code used to trace or identify a consignment. For example, it could be an individual serial, week, batch or invoice number.

The code must provide traceability back to the unit where the plant passport was issued.

A traceability code is not needed if plants for planting:

  • have been prepared and are ready for sale to final users without needing any further preparation, and
  • there’s no risk of spreading GB quarantine pests

The plant passport may include a unique barcode, QR-code, hologram, chip or other data carrier, as well as the traceability code.

This is optional and doesn’t replace the need to include a traceability code.

Part D (country of origin)

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

You must include the country of origin of the consignment, using the two letter ISO code for the country or countries.

Country of origin is considered to have changed when plants have been ‘grown-on’.

Plants are ‘grown-on’ if they have been any of the following:

  • potted, re-potted, grafted or rooted
  • in active growth under protection for at least 2 weeks
  • in active growth outside for at least 4 weeks
  • subject to high risk of infestation by a quarantine organism, for example grown-on a premises subject to statutory notice (legal notice regarding non-compliance or pest outbreak)

Plant passports of some Xylella fastidiosa hosts and Ceratocystis platani hosts can only list ‘GB’ after the plants have been in the UK for one year after import.

The plants can be marketed in the first year after they’ve been imported but only on a plant passport which states the original country of origin.

The GB code applies to these hosts of Xylella fastidiosa plants other than:

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

The GB code applies to plants for planting of Platanus spp. (plane) intended for planting other than seeds.

Part E (movements from Northern Ireland to GB)

QNIGs can continue to move from NI to GB in the same way as before. QNIGs are goods either:

  • in free circulation in NI - on the basis that they are not under customs supervision (except when that supervision comes from the goods being taken out of NI or the EU)
  • which have undergone processing operations in NI under the inward processing procedure, and only incorporate inputs which were in free circulation in the UK

If you are an operator based in GB and receive a consignment of plants or plant products from NI which are QNIGs and subject to plant passport requirements, they will arrive at your premises with an EU plant passport as before.

As these are QNIGs you do not need to routinely replace this EU plant passport with a UK plant passport, and the goods may be moved on under their EU plant passport unless you either:

  • split the consignment and the new ‘units’ (these may be trolleys, pallets, boxes, bags or similar) no longer have a PP attached to them
  • choose to replace the plant passport (for example, to include your supplier’s details for business purposes)

If any of the above points apply, a UK plant passport could be issued without a full examination of the plants taking place before onward movement.

If you replace a plant passport on a QNIG you must put the code ‘GB(NI)’ in Part E of that replacement UK plant passport, to help maintain their identity as QNIGs.

This is to aid monitoring of compliance with plant passporting requirements, including the specific provisions for QNIGs.

This will help ensure that it is easily visible whether a good has originated outside of GB’s phytosanitary zone, yet may not have undergone full third country checks, which will be important for tracing purposes in the event of a pest or disease is found.

If the phytosanitary status of your consignment changes, for example because traceability has not been maintained, there is a pest or disease issue with the consignment or the plants have been ‘grown on’, then a full examination will need to be carried out on the plants.

Once confirmed they are fully aligned with GB plant health standards, a standard UK plant passport with Part E left blank could be issued.

Read guidance on when plants have been grown under Part D (country of origin).

Issuing and fixing plant passports for regulated plant material from 1 January 2021

If you were already authorised to issue EU 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 or Forestry Commission to renew your authorisation each year.

Read apply to be authorised for further guidance on how to apply for authorisation.

UK plant passports in the EU

UK plant passports can be attached in an EU member state until 30 June 2022, provided the format and attachment is correct. This will be reviewed again in the future.

However, an EU operator cannot legally issue a UK plant passport under GB plant health rules.

A UK plant passport will have no legal status until it reaches its first place of destination in GB.

If you’re the operator in GB who is responsible for the plant products at the first place of destination, you’ll:

  • need to be authorised to issue UK plant passports
  • be audited under the plant passport regime

Your registration number will go in Part B of the UK plant passport.

If you do not follow these rules, it may prevent plants from being able to move on from your care.

EU plant passports in GB

EU plant passports cannot be attached in England, Scotland or Wales (Great Britain). They can continue to be attached in NI.

UK plant passports in NI

You will need a PC when moving regulated plants and plant products to Northern Ireland.

Imports with EU plant passports

Imports from the EU to NI can continue to use an EU plant passport.

Imports from the EU to GB need a PC.

The process for replacing a PC with a UK plant passport will remain the same.

Plant passports should be issued 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 you import goods to the UK under a PC, 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

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

GB no longer uses the EU designation of Protected Zones (PZs), and instead uses the internationally recognised term of Pest Free Areas (PFA).

Protected Zone pests will either become GB quarantine pests (which are absent throughout GB), or PFA pests (which are absent in only part of GB).

Commodities which are hosts of GB quarantine pests need standard UK plant passports for movement within GB.

Commodities which are hosts of PFA pests will require PFA UK plant passports for their movement within GB.

A PFA plant passport should have the words ‘UK plant passport - PFA’ at the top of the label, and the EPPO code of the relevant PFA pest.

Check which commodities that require PFA plant passports to find the code you need to include.

Contact APHA if you need more information on PFAs.

Plant passports and certification labels

Some seeds which will require a plant passport under the Plant Health Regulations also require certification, and there is provision for the passport to be merged with the existing certification label.

To find out if you trade in seeds that require certification check the seed list.

In such a passport the label must have the words ‘UK Plant Passport’ with the remaining certification information below that.

When to issue a new UK plant passport

If you split a consignment or send the consignment to somewhere else where a passport is needed, you’ll need to issue new UK plant passports for the new consignments. If a UK plant passport is already attached to the new consignments, you don’t have to issue new UK plant passports.

For example if you had a trolley of plants covered by a single UK plant passport and then split that into different trays of plants to send to different operators, new UK plant passports will need to be attached to each of the trays.

You do not need a new passport if:

  • you do not split a consignment
  • traceability for the plants or plant products is maintained
  • the plants, plant products or other objects are free of pests and disease
  • the characteristics of the plants, plant products or other objects haven’t changed

If any of these points are not followed then a meticulous examination must take place for a new UK plant passport to be issued.

Attachment of the plant passport

The UK plant passport must be attached to the smallest package in which you transport your plants or plant products.

If you move the same commodity on pallets, boxes, trays, or in bags, the plant passport must be attached to each of those individual units.

Multiple plant species can be listed on a single plant passport as long as traceability is provided for all regulated plants or plant products listed on the plant passport.

If there’s a mix of plants on a trolley and it’s going directly to retail, you can just attach the passport to the trolley. The passport must be attached to the trolley itself. It can’t be a delivery note with the driver.

Plants or plant products on the trolley can have a passport attached to that trolley at any stage of the supply chain if they are:

  • homogeneous in composition (of the same species and in the same format) and origin
  • heading to the same destination

You can issue a plant passport for an individual plant or for a single unit, such as a box, tray, bag or bundle.The passport can be:

  • a label
  • a sticker
  • on a care label
  • in a paper form but attached to the unit in question

For plant passports being sold to customers by a distance contract, for example online sales, you can attach the plant passport:

  • to the plant or container, as a label, a sticker, on a care label, or in a paper form but attached to the unit
  • on the delivery note if that is travelling in the package or box with the plant
  • on the outside of the box or packet the plant or plant products is travelling in

Supplier document

You must make a supplier document for certain plants.

This requirement is separate to a plant passport. Plant passports and supplier documents can not be substituted for each other.

If you did not need a supplier document before plant passport requirements changed on 14 December 2019, you do not need one now. You may still need a plant passport. To find out, read When you need a plant passport.

Check the following lists to find out if your consignment needs to travel with a supplier document:

Your consignment must also travel with a supplier document if you’re moving ornamental plant propagating material, including seeds.

You must make a supplier document for certain plants.

Fruit and vegetable plants

Your supplier document for fruit and vegetable plants must include:

  • the phrase ‘EU Quality’
  • ‘UK’ (to show that the plants were grown in, or imported into, the UK)
  • ‘EW’ (the code for APHA)
  • your unique APHA registration number
  • your company name
  • your individual serial, week, batch or invoice number
  • the date on which you made the document
  • the botanical name of the plants or common name for vegetables
  • the variety name for rootstocks or a designation if there’s no variety name
  • the quantity in the consignment

Ornamental plants

Your supplier document for ornamental plants must include:

  • the phrase ‘EU Quality’
  • ‘UK’ (to show that the plants were grown in, or imported into, the UK)
  • ‘EW’ (the code for APHA)
  • your unique APHA registration number
  • your company name
  • your individual serial, week, batch or invoice number
  • the date on which you made the document
  • the botanical name of the plants
  • the variety name for rootstocks or a designation if there’s no variety name
  • the denomination of the group of plants
  • the quantity in the consignment
  • the country of production of the consignment, if the plants and plant products have been imported from a non-EU country

Keep records

Your records must allow APHA to investigate any pest or disease outbreaks.

If a supplier sends you a plant passport in the form of a label, you may store this physically or digitally. You don’t have to keep supplier documents.

You must keep the following for 3 years: If you have issued a plant passport you must record:

  • if you have been supplied with a plant passport, the professional operator who supplied the trade unit concerned
  • the professional operator to whom the trade unit concerned was supplied
  • the information within the plant passport (this does not have to be a physical copy of the plant passport or an exact digital copy of the plant passport)

If you are a professional operator that has received a plant passport you must:

  • insist that your supplier provides any passports that are missing - if they refuse to do this, contact APHA to report them
  • record who supplied you with any passport you receive

If you are a professional operator that has supplied a plant passport you must record who you supplied that plant passport to.

A professional operator is any person involved professionally in, and legally responsible for, one or more of the following activities concerning plants, plant products and other objects:

  • planting
  • breeding
  • production, including growing, multiplying and maintaining
  • introduction into, and movement within and out of, the EU
  • making available on the market
  • storage, collection, dispatching and processing

Telling APHA about pests or diseases

You must contact APHA if you suspect you’ve found quarantine or non-indigenous pests or diseases.

Published 29 July 2015
Last updated 10 May 2021 + show all updates
  1. Updated the inspection fees section with information about associated activities.

  2. Update to 'UK plant passports in the EU' section. UK plant passports can be attached in an EU member state until 30 June 2022, provided the format and attachment is correct.

  3. This guide has been extensively updated throughout to reflect new plant passporting legislation in GB. Previously this guidance was in line with EU legislation.

  4. Updated the plant and products which must have passports for all movements document.

  5. Updated plant passporting protected zones document.

  6. Removed "the letters ‘EW’ (this is the code for APHA) should go before your unique APHA registration number " from Part B of Make a Plant Passport

  7. Updated the plant and products which must have passports for all movements document

  8. Updated the plant and products which must have passports for all movements document

  9. Updated plant passporting protected zones document

  10. Updated the plant and products which must have passports for all movements document

  11. Changes to rules for movement within the EU

  12. Updated plant passporting protected zones document

  13. Updated fees section due to 2019 regulations.

  14. Protected zones, and plants which must have passports in protected zones document updated

  15. Quarantine pests and disease index updated

  16. Updated document - Plant and products which must have passports for all movements

  17. Quarantine pest and disease index updated

  18. Link to EU protected zones document updated

  19. Updated the fees information due to changes from 6 April 2018.

  20. Updated the 'quarantine pest and disease index' document

  21. Updated the 'quarantine pest and disease index' document

  22. Updated the 'quarantine pest and disease index' document

  23. Moved inspectors text from 'renew authorisation' section to 'apply to be authorised' section. Added paragraph about 'single visit status'.

  24. Updated document - Plant and products which must have passports for all movements

  25. Updated 'Making a plant passport' section to reference new Fruit Propagation Certification Scheme (FPCS) instead of the Plant Health Propagation Scheme (PHPS), which it largely replaces.

  26. First published.