Guidance

Issuing plant passports to trade plants in the EU

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

If you’re based in England and Wales and you’re moving plants or plant products in the EU that can host quarantine pests and diseases, they may need plant passports.

You must also 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).

Find out:

When you need a plant passport

Check the following lists to find out if a consignment you’re trading in the EU (including within the UK) needs plant passports:

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

Trading with Switzerland

Check the following lists to find out if a consignment you’re trading with Switzerland needs plant passports:

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

When you need a supplier document

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.

Apply to be authorised

To apply for authorisation to issue plant passports and supplier documents, complete an application form and send it to APHA.

Check if you need a plant passport

Check if your plant is:

If it’s on either list you’ll need to make a plant passport. You need permission before you can do this - either:

Inspections

After you apply for authorisation, APHA will inspect your site.

They’ll do this between 2 and 4 times per year, depending on your business’s risk to plant health.

In certain situations, you may be eligible to receive one chargeable visit from an inspector per year. This is referred to as ‘single visit status’.

You’ll have to meet set criteria; which includes short term cropping, re-passporting only, or if you are a very small trader.

The inspector will apply for this status on your behalf to the ‘Technical Manager for Plant Passporting’ and will advise you of the outcome.

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 in the EU 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, they’ll approve your authorisation.

Inspection fees

The fees for inspections are changing on 6 April 2018. In order to allow businesses time to prepare for this change, the fees are being introduced in 3 phases.

  • From 6 April 2018 to 30 September 2018 the fee is £59.98, with a minimum fee of £119.96
  • From 1 October 2018 to 31 March 2019 the fee is £66.91, with a minimum fee of £133.82
  • From 1 April 2019 the fee is £73.85, with a minimum fee of £147.70

The fees are charged for every quarter of an hour or part of that time that an inspection and associated activities takes, including the time it takes inspectors to travel to your site.

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

An additional fee of £18.78 is charged when submitting an application for a plant passport authorisation in paper form (and not online).

You won’t 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.

Making a plant passport

You must include the following details on plant passports:

  • the phrase ‘EU Plant Passport’
  • ‘UK’ to show that the plants were grown in the UK or imported into the UK
  • ‘EW’ (this is the code for APHA)
  • your unique APHA registration number and an individual serial, week, batch or invoice number
  • the botanical name of the plant or plants
  • the quantity in the consignment
  • the letters ‘ZP’ and a protected zone code if you’re moving consignments in protected zones, and plants which must have passports in protected zones (PDF, 231KB, 5 pages)

  • the letters ‘RP’ if it’s a replacement plant passport
  • the country of origin of the consignment, if it’s originally come from a non-EU country

If you’re transporting a mix of items that need a plant passport and items that need a supplier document, you can use a plant passport to cover all of them, once you include the following information:

  • the phrase ‘EU quality’
  • the variety name for rootstocks or a designation if there’s no variety name

If your plant passport is for fruit, you must confirm that the fruit either:

  • meets conformitas agraria communitatis (CAC) standards - for the purposes of this guidance, this means stating the fruit is free of pests and diseases
  • has a Fruit Propagation Certification Scheme (FPCS) grade - state the grade on the passport

Plant passports and protected zones

Some plants and plant products must have a passport to enter parts of EU countries called ‘protected zones’.

If you’re making a plant passport to move restricted plants into a protected zone, you must include the code ‘ZP’ on the passport followed by the code for that protected zone.

Check a list of protected zones, and plants which must have passports in protected zones (PDF, 231KB, 5 pages) to find the code you need to include.

Contact APHA if you need more information on protected zones.

Replacement plant passports

You must issue a replacement passport if you split a consignment of passported plants and you’re sending them to someone else.

The replacement passport must include the following, along with the standard plant passport details:

  • the letters ‘RP’ - for replacement passport
  • the registration number of the original supplier
  • your registration number and your serial, week, batch or invoice number

For example, if your batch number is WK1, your registration number is 34567 and the original producer’s is 12345, you must label the plant passport UK/EW 34567 WK1/RP 12345.

If you don’t want your customer to be able to identify your supplier, you can use your own code instead of their registration number - keep a log of your codes that allows APHA to identify suppliers.

You can’t add protected zone codes to a replacement plant passport if they weren’t on the original, or omit them from a replacement passport if they were on the original.

Choose a plant passport format

You can issue a plant passport for an individual plant or for a consignment - the passport can be a label, a sticker, a paper form or another document.

You can include all the information on a delivery note or on another document travelling with the consignment.

Alternatively, you can include all the information on labels attached to the plants or plant products and their packaging. In this case you must use at least one label for each plant of the same variety, grown in the same place by the same producer, and destined for the same customer

If you’re moving passported plants with plants that don’t have passports, you can use one delivery note or document to give details of all the plants.

Supplier document

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

Trade seed potatoes

Seed potatoes must have a plant passport at every stage of the trade chain in the EU, whether you’re sending them to another UK site or to another EU member state.

If you grow seed potatoes you must be authorised by APHA to make plant passports.

Find out how to get authorised as part of the Seed Potato Classification Scheme (SPCS).

Potato cyst nematode (PCN)

If you’re producing plants for planting or bulbs that are grown in soil or growing material that contains soil you may need to get them tested for potato cyst nematode before you can trade them.

These species must be tested for PCN:

  • leeks
  • strawberry
  • sugar beet
  • young brassica plants for planting
  • young asparagus plants for planting
  • pepper
  • tomato
  • aubergines
  • bulbs, tubers and rhizomes

You must contact APHA to arrange a PCN test unless:

  • you’re planting the plants at the same place where they were raised
  • you’ll put the plants through a PCN disinfestations process before you move them
  • you’ll have the plants brushed or washed until free of soil
  • the field where you’ll grow the plants has been free of PCN for 12 years, and you have test results to prove this
  • you can confirm no potatoes, peppers, aubergines or tomatoes were grown in the field where you’ll grow the plants, in the last 12 years

Renew authorisation

You must contact APHA to renew your authorisation each year.

Fees

The fee for renewal inspections are the same as for first inspections. See the fee details in the apply to be authorised section.

Keep records

You must keep the following for 1 year:

  • all plant passports that you issue or receive
  • a record of any plant propagating material you buy or sell
  • a record of any mixing you did during packaging, storage, transport or delivery

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 must keep the label. If this is impossible, eg because the label is glued to a tray, write the details into a manual or save them in a file on your computer.

You don’t have to keep supplier documents, unless part of them forms the plant passport.

Pay APHA to issue plant passports

If you’re not authorised or you don’t want to get authorised, you can contact APHA and pay them to issue plant passports for you.

To do this, you must get your site inspected by APHA - you need to give the inspectors 7 days’ notice.

See the fee details in the apply to be authorised section.

If you’re not authorised

If you’re not authorised to issue plant passports, you must still issue supplier documents for some fruit and vegetable plants which require them, unless either:

  • they’re for retail sale
  • you’re a small producer selling to the local market

Check the list of:

When you’re considered a small producer

You’re considered a small producer if you meet any of the following conditions:

  • you don’t trade in plants that are covered by the plant passport scheme
  • you raise less than 1,000 metres squared of plants overall and less than 100 metres squared is under protection
  • the charge for 2 nursery inspections would be more than 10% of your turnover

When you’re considered to be selling to the local market

You’re considered to be selling to the local market if you only sell produce within a 50 kilometre radius of your site to people who are not professional growers, and you don’t sell at auctions.

You must mark produce as ‘for direct sale to the public only’.

Keeping records

You must also:

Telling APHA about pests or diseases

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

Temporary agreements

In some situations you may have to use other official documents instead of plant passports. For example, if the law is changing and there’s a temporary agreement between EU member states. APHA will tell you when this is the case.

Published 29 July 2015
Last updated 18 October 2018 + show all updates
  1. Link to EU protected zones document updated
  2. Updated the fees information due to changes from 6 April 2018.
  3. Updated the 'quarantine pest and disease index' document
  4. Updated the 'quarantine pest and disease index' document
  5. Updated the 'quarantine pest and disease index' document
  6. Moved inspectors text from 'renew authorisation' section to 'apply to be authorised' section. Added paragraph about 'single visit status'.
  7. Updated document - Plant and products which must have passports for all movements
  8. 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.
  9. First published.