Guidance

Issue plant passports to move regulated plant material in Great Britain

How growers and traders can get authorised as a professional operator to issue plant passports, when you need to be authorised and plants that need passports.

Applies to England and Wales

Professional operators in Great Britain no longer issue EU plant passports. UK plant passports are issued in place of EU plant passports.

A UK plant passport is an official document you need to move plants and certain regulated wood within Great Britain, to the Isle of Man or to the Channel Islands. This includes:

  • all plants for planting
  • some seeds
  • seed potatoes
  • wood
  • wood products - this includes chips, particles, shavings, sawdust, wood waste or scrap and some other types of wood product where there could still be a phytosanitary risk, even after processing
  • isolated bark

You can issue UK plant passports yourself, but you must be authorised by the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA), or the Forestry Commission depending on the goods.

If you’re a professional operator in England or Wales producing or moving plants and plant material within Great Britain, to the Isle of Man or to the Channel Islands, you must follow this APHA advice. This guidance also applies if you’re moving these within the same country in Great Britain. For example, from Kent to Yorkshire.

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

You must follow Forestry Commission guidance if you’re a GB-trader in wood, wood products or isolated bark.

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

When you need a UK plant passport

Check the following lists for more detail on the:

If you’re unsure whether your consignment needs UK plant passports, contact APHA at planthealth.info@apha.gov.uk or Forestry Commission at plant.health@forestrycommission.gov.uk.

If you’re moving regulated plants, some seeds and seed potatoes from Great Britain to Northern Ireland you may need a phytosanitary certificate. 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 need to be authorised to issue plant passports for any plants which have plant passport requirements.

Supplying customers for personal use

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

You do not need a plant passport for other retail sales - for example, if you sell plants to customers paying in person.

Trade seed potatoes

Seed potatoes must have a plant passport at every stage of the trade chain in Great Britain. If you grow seed potatoes you must be registered as a professional operator by APHA. If you grow seed potatoes read the Seed Potato Classification Scheme (SPCS) for more information on how the SPCS works.

Register as a professional operator and get authorised to issue UK plant passports

Every business that works with plants must be registered as a professional operator. If you move regulated plant material in Great Britain, you also need to be authorised to issue UK plant passports.

Register as a professional operator with the Animal Plant Health Agency and get authorised so you can issue plant passports for:

  • all plants for planting
  • some seeds
  • seed potatoes

You must complete the registration and authorisation form to become a professional operator authorised to issue plant passports and send them both to APHA.

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

After you’ve registered, you’ll be able authorised to issue plant passports online using eDomero (free of charge). You must renew your authorisation annually on eDomero.

Christmas trees

You need a UK plant passport to sell Christmas trees.

You should only be registered with either APHA or the Forestry Commission to issue plant passports for Christmas trees, not both.

If you manage a garden centre or other horticultural business that sells plants for planting, your tree growers or you must register as a professional operator and get authorisation with APHA to issue plant passports for:

  • potted Christmas trees of any size
  • trees of any size - this includes cut Christmas trees of more than 3 metres tall

Only register with the Forestry Commission if you are not registered with APHA for plants for planting. Register as a professional operator and get authorisation with the Forestry Commission to issue plant passports for:

  • cut Christmas trees more than 3 metres tall
  • branches or foliage taken from conifer trees more than 3 metres tall

If you’re unsure whether you need to register with APHA or Forestry Commission, get in touch first to ask at:

After you’re registered as a professional operator with APHA

After you’ve registered to become a professional operator with APHA, you’ll get a unique registration number. You’ll be able to apply for authorisation to issue plant passports for:

  • all plants for planting
  • some seeds
  • seed potatoes

You can then issue as many passports and supplier documents as you need.

You 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 are not covered by plant passport rules.

Inspections

APHA will do an inspection shortly after you’re authorised to make sure you’re 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 does not 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 using eDomero.

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

Renewal authorisation and fees

You must renew your authorisation each year using eDomero.

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 show the difference between UK plant passports and EU plant passports.

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

In Northern Ireland, EU plant passports are used for internal Northern Ireland movements, and for movements to the EU or Great Britain.

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 material. 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 material. 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 quarantine pests in Great Britain

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 does not 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 Great Britain)

QNIGs can continue to move from Northern Ireland to Great Britain in the same way as before. QNIGs are goods either:

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

If you are an operator based in Great Britain and receive a consignment of plants or plant material from Northern Ireland 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 make sure that it is easily visible whether a good has originated outside of Great Britain’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, then a full examination will need to be carried out on the plants. For example, if:

  • traceability has not been maintained
  • there is a pest or disease issue with the consignment
  • the plants have been ‘grown on’

Once confirmed they are fully aligned with Great Britain’s 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 using eDomero for APHA. Your business will be audited to check you are compliant. Read apply to be authorised for further guidance on how to apply for authorisation.

Contact Forestry Commission to review your authorisation if you issue plant passports for wood, wood products or isolated bark.

UK plant passports in the EU

UK plant passports can be attached in an EU member state until 30 June 2022, provided the plant passport 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 Great Britain’s plant health rules. A UK plant passport will have no legal status until it reaches its first place of destination in Great Britain.

If you’re the operator in Great Britain who is responsible for the plants at the first place of destination, you:

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

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 Great Britain

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

UK plant passports in Northern Ireland

You will need a phytosanitary certificate when moving regulated plants and plant material that need a plant passport to Northern Ireland.

Imports with EU plant passports

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

Imports from the EU to Great Britain need a phytosanitary certificate.

The process for replacing a phytosanitary certificate 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 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

EU plant passports do not need to be invalidated when they enter Great Britain. As the format is different to the UK plant passport they can easily be differentiated. The EU plant passport is automatically invalid.

Plant passports and pest-free areas

Great Britain no longer uses the EU designation of protected zones (PZs), and instead uses the internationally recognised term of pest-free area (PFA).

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

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

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

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 need 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 that need a plant passport also need certification. The plant passport can be merged with the certification label.

The label must have the words ‘UK Plant Passport’ with the remaining certification information below that.

To find out if you trade in seeds that need certification check the list of the agricultural and vegetable seeds.

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 do not 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 wood is maintained
  • the plants or wood are free of pests and disease
  • the characteristics of the plants or wood have not 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 material.

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 material listed on the plant passport.

If there’s a mix of plants on a trolley and it’s going directly to a retail outlet (for example, a garden centre), you can just attach the passport to the trolley. The passport must be attached to the trolley itself. It cannot be a delivery note with the driver.

Plants or plant material 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
  • going 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
  • on a pictorial packet
  • 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 material is travelling in

Supplier document

You must complete 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.

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 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 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 material 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 do not have to keep supplier documents.

If you have issued a plant passport you must record (and keep for 3 years):

  • 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 or wood:

  • 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.