Guidance

Register as a professional operator to trade in wood, issue plant passports and apply ISPM15 marking

Register so you can import or export regulated timber, wood products and bark, apply for export phytosanitary certificates, issue plant passports or apply ISPM15 marking.

Applies to England, Scotland and Wales

If you, or your business, want to import, export or move certain types of regulated wood, wood products and bark within Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales) – you must be registered with the Forestry Commission as a professional operator.

You must follow Animal Plant Health Agency (APHA) guidance if you want to register as a professional operator to issue plant passports for all plants for planting, some seeds and seed potatoes.

Register as a professional operator

Follow the instructions for each question on the form.

You can register one person as a professional operator to represent each forestry company.

In sections 1 to 13, you’ll need to give details of:

  • company name
  • operator name
  • postal and email address
  • nations in Great Britain where you operate

In section 14 you must give a description of your managed premises in 840 characters or less. Include a description of any locations used by the professional operator.

In sections 15 to 23, you need to confirm any forestry activities you carry out.

You will be asked if you want to register to issue plant passports or apply the ISPM15 (International Standards for Phytosanitary Measures No. 15) mark. These activities are optional.

In sections 25 to 27 you’ll give activity authorisation, a declaration of undertaking and agree to the data protection statement.

After you’ve completed and submitted your online registration, you’ll receive an email confirmation. The Forestry Commission will then process your application.

When you need plant passports

You must use plant passports if you commission the movement of timber, wood products or bark of these species within Great Britain or to the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man.

You must be registered and authorised with the Forestry Commission if you want to issue plant passports for certain regulated species of:

  • 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

The types of regulated wood, wood products and bark that must be accompanied by plant passports include:

  • all Conifers with bark and the isolated bark of conifer
  • Castanea (sweet chestnut) with bark and the isolated bark of sweet chestnut
  • Platanus (plane) with or without bark - except the isolated bark of Platanus
  • Juglans (walnut) with or without bark and the isolated bark of Juglans
  • Pterocarya (wingnut) with or without bark and the isolated bark of Pterocarya
  • Christmas trees over 3 metres tall and branches or foliage taken from conifer trees over 3 metres tall

Check the following lists for more detail on the:

You can find more information on plant passporting from the 2 factsheets on the Plant Health Portal. The first factsheet is an overview of plant passporting. The second factsheet explains the detail of the plant passport system for moving:

  • wood, wood products and isolated bark
  • Christmas trees over 3 metres tall
  • branches or foliage taken from conifer trees over 3 metres tall

Find out what rules to follow if you move regulated wood, wood products and bark in Northern Ireland.

Christmas trees

You should only be registered and authorised with 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, register as a professional operator and apply to be authorised 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 and get authorisation with the Forestry Commission if you are not registered with APHA for plants for planting. Register as a professional operator and apply to be authorised 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 the Forestry Commission, get in touch first to ask at planthealth.info@apha.gov.uk or plant.health@forestrycommission.gov.uk.

You can read guidance on how to register as a professional operator to issue plant passports for plant material with APHA.

Apply for plant passport authorisation with the Forestry Commission

To be authorised to issue plant passports with the Forestry Commission, you must show that you’ve completed the e-learning module on the Forestry Commission Digital Learning site (section 24 of the form).

If you do not have an account, you can create a new one or continue as a guest.

Read the plant passporting slides then complete the knowledge check. You’ll get a knowledge score at the end.

You must email your results to the plant health forestry team at plant.health@forestrycommission.gov.uk and confirm you’ve completed the e-learning module on plant passporting at question 24 on the professional operator registration form.

In your email you must include:

  • your name
  • registration number
  • a screenshot of your score results

You’ll get confirmation of your professional operator status to issue plant passports once the Forestry Commission has received your e-learning score and any other supporting detail requested.

Complete the plant passport online e-learning module.

Log in as a guest, then press ‘enter’ and then press ‘start’. You may have to click on the large ‘X’ on the left-hand top corner to fully open the window for the e-learning module.

You can find the latest version of the plant passport overview in the ‘resources’ tab (top right-hand corner) of the plant passport e-learning module.

Apply to supply ISPM15 marking

To apply ISPM15 marking to wood packaging material (WPM) as a professional operator, you must complete section 22 on the Forestry Commission professional operator application form.

If you’re a new producer wanting to supply ISPM15-compliant packaging, you must register with TIMCON. Do this before you complete the Forestry Commission professional operator application form.

You’ll have to give your reference number from the United Kingdom Wood Packaging Material Marking Programme. This is issued by TIMCON in the format ‘FCXXXX’ (FC followed by your 4 digit registration number).

Find out more about meeting international standards as a supplier of WPM.

Published 18 December 2019
Last updated 24 September 2021 + show all updates
  1. Updated link to the Forestry Commission professional operator application form

  2. Updated types of regulated wood, wood products and bark that must be accompanied by plant passports

  3. Updated link to form and reformatted instructions

  4. Update / new form ready for Day 1

  5. The 'Professional operator registration guidance note' has been updated.

  6. You can now access Professional Operator application form and registration guidance note.

  7. You will not be able to access the Professional Operator application form from 27 May 2020 to 29 May 2020 due to the Forestry Commission carrying out essential maintenance on the Professional Operator registration system.

  8. The application form and guidance note have been removed while the Forestry Commission carries out essential maintenance on the Professional Operator registration system. You will be able to access the application form again from 28 May 2020.

  9. You will not be able to access the Professional Operator application form on 27 May 2020 and 28 May 2020 due to the Forestry Commission carrying out essential maintenance on the Professional Operator registration system.

  10. First published.