Guidance

Issuing plant passports to move regulated plant material 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.

Plant passports are an EU official document to move regulated plants and plant products within the EU. If you’re based in England and Wales and you’re moving plants or plant products in the EU they may need plant passports.

You must also follow this guidance to move plants or plant products within England and Wales. For Scotland, check with SASA (Science and Advice for Scottish Agriculture). For Northern Ireland, check with DAERA (Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs).

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

The list of passported plants and plant products is different under the new regulations.

The exemption when supplying directly to retailers no longer exists. 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.

A plant passport is required even to customers buying for personal use if you are supplying through means of distance sales, for example, if you are selling online.

Under the new Plant Health Regulations 2016/2031 (PHR), implemented from 14 December 2019, the scope of plant passporting will be greater than before. You will need a plant passport to move regulated plants and plant products within the EU, including within the UK.

PHR includes:

  • all plants for planting
  • some seeds
  • seed potatoes
  • some fruits with peduncles attached

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

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

Apply to be authorised

You need to complete the following forms and email them to plant passport registration:

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 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, 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 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.

Make a plant passport

Passports issued before 14 December 2019 under the old regulations are valid until 14 December 2023.

Under the new regulations the passport must be distinct and separate from other information. If it’s placed on a different label such as a care label, it must be distinct from the other information on that label.

You must include certain details on plant passports under the new regulations:

  • EU flag and wording
  • the letters ‘A, B, C, D’, known as ‘parts A to D’, with information following each letter

EU flag and wording

The EU flag must be in the top left hand corner of the plant passport. It can be printed in colour or in black and white. If it’s in black and white, it can have white stars on black backgrounds, or black stars on white background.

The words ‘Plant Passport’ must be printed in English to the right of the EU flag.

If relevant (depending on the country you are dealing with), ‘Plant Passport’ must also be printed in one other official EU language, separated by a slash, to the right of the EU flag.

Part A

You must state:

  • the botanical name of the plants or plant products concerned
  • there should be full genus and species name, a genus name alone is acceptable if the species name is not known
  • a variety name can be added, but this is optional

Part B

You must state:

  • the two-letter ISO code for the member state in which the professional operator issuing the plant passport is registered
  • the code for the UK (including Northern Ireland) is GB
  • the alphabetical, numerical or alphanumerical national registration number of the professional operator concerned
  • the letters ‘EW’ (this is the code for APHA) should go before your unique APHA registration number

Part C

You must state the traceability code of the plant, plant product or the other object concerned.This can be an existing code used to trace or identify a consignment)

The code must provide traceability back to the unit for which the plant passport was issued. For example, it could be an individual serial, week, batch or invoice number.

A traceability code is not required where plants for planting meet all of the following conditions:

  • they are prepared in such a way that they are ready for the sale to final users without any further preparation no risk exists concerning the spread of EU quarantine pests
  • they do not belong to types or species that are considered to have a greater plant health risk (This list is still under discussion between Member States and the European Commission and we will issue further guidance when that list is finalised.)

Part D

You must state the country of origin of the consignment, which may be an EU or non-EU country. 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)

The plant passport may include a unique barcode, QR-code, hologram, chip or other data carrier, supplementing the traceability code. This requirement is optional, and any data carrier is not a suitable replacement when a traceability code is required.

EU legislation has examples of plant passports. Please note that the size of the plant passports, the use of a border line, the proportions of the size of their elements, and the fonts used in the models are only examples.

Plant passports and protected zones

Some plants and plant products must have a passport to enter parts of EU countries called ‘protected zones’. A ‘Protected Zone’ (PZ) is an area designated as free from a particular quarantine pest(s). The PZ plant passport states that the plant or plant product in question is free from the relevant PZ quarantine pest.

If you’re making a plant passport to move restricted plants into a protected zone, you must include the words ‘Plant Passport – PZ’ in English and, if relevant (depending on the country you are dealing with), in one other official EU language, separated by a slash.

Under ‘Plant Passport – PZ’ state the relevant PZ quarantine pest(s), identifying it by one of the following:

  • the PZ code specifically attributed to those pests
  • the scientific name(s) of PZ quarantine pest(s)
  • the EPPO (European and Mediterranean Plant Protection Organization) codes specifically attributed to those pests

Check a list of protected zones, and plants which must have passports in protected zones (PDF, 232KB, 5 pages) to find the code you need to include.

Contact APHA if you need more information on protected zones.

Plant passports and certification labels

Some seeds which will require a plant passport under the Plant Health Regulations 2016/ 2031 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 EU flag and the words ‘Plant Passport’ with the remaining certification information below that.

How to replace a plant passport

You must issue a new passport if you split a trade unit of passported plants and you’re sending them to someone else. 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 concerned continue to comply with requirements regarding the presence of pests and disease
  • the characteristics of the plants, plant products or other objects concerned have not changed

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

You can continue to replace plant passports, however the term replacement plant passports no longer exists.

Attachment of the plant passport

The way your goods travel with a plant passport is different under the new regulations. Under the new regulations the 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 is a mix of plants on a trolley, then the passport may only be attached to the trolley if it is going directly to retail. The passport must be attached to the trolley itself, and cannot travel separately with a 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:

  • homogenous 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

Supplier document

You must make a supplier document for certain plants.

Check the following list 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

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).

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.

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 13 January 2020 + show all updates
  1. Updated plant passporting protected zones document

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

  3. Changes to rules for movement within the EU

  4. Updated plant passporting protected zones document

  5. Updated fees section due to 2019 regulations.

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

  7. Quarantine pests and disease index updated

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

  9. Quarantine pest and disease index updated

  10. Link to EU protected zones document updated

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

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

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

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

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

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

  17. 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.

  18. First published.