Smarter rules for safer food: how to import from third countries

How to import plants and plant products to the EU under the smarter rules for safer food regulations.

This guidance was withdrawn on

This page has been withdrawn because it’s out of date. For current information read: Importing and exporting plants and plant products

You must have a phytosanitary certificate for almost all plants and living parts of plants, including all seeds intended for planting, entering the UK.

There are 5 tropical fruits that do not require a phytosanitary certificate for import into the UK:

  • pineapple
  • coconut
  • durian
  • bananas (Musa spp.)
  • dates

You do not need phytosanitary certificates for plant products such as fruit and vegetables that have been processed and packaged. This includes packaged salads and frozen material. Composite products like nut and seed butters containing processed fruit or vegetables do not fall within plant health import controls or need a phytosanitary certificate.

The rules set out in this guide follow the smarter rules for safer food policy which protects individuals and businesses against animal disease and plant pests.

Personal baggage allowance

You need a phytosanitary certificate to bring certain plants and plant products in your personal baggage to the UK from third countries.

You cannot bring in:

‘Plant’ means a living plant (including a fungus or tree) or a living part of a plant (including a living part of a fungus or shrub), at any stage of growth.

‘Plant product’ means products of plant origin, that has not been processed or has only undergone simple preparation. Wood and bark are not ‘plant products’.

You can bring plants and plant products, other than the plants and products listed, from all third countries provided that the material is:

  • in your personal luggage
  • accompanied by a phytosanitary certificate
  • for your personal use
  • not diseased or infected with pests

Prohibitions on ‘high risk’ plant imports

A new category of high risk plants, plant products and other objects is in place.

High risk plants and plant products are prohibited from entering the UK from all third countries, until a full risk assessment is conducted by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).

How to apply for an exemption from the ‘high risk’ prohibition

Third country National Plant Protection Organisations (NPPOs) can apply for an exemption from the prohibition on high risk plants and plant products by applying to the European Commission.

The EFSA set out the information and format required to submit an application.

EFSA will assess the information provided by the NPPO and complete a full risk assessment on the plant or plant product. If the risk assessment permits the trade it will be removed from the high risk list, subject to specific import requirements including phytosanitary certification.

High risk plants

The following plants for planting from all third countries are prohibited:

  • Acacia
  • Acer
  • Albizia
  • Almus
  • Annona
  • Bauhinia
  • Berberis
  • Betula
  • Caesalpinia
  • Cassia
  • Castanea
  • Cornus
  • Corylus
  • Crataegus
  • Diospyros
  • Fagus
  • Ficus carica
  • Fraxinus
  • Hamamelis
  • Jasminum
  • Juglans
  • Ligustrum
  • Lonicera
  • Malus
  • Nerium
  • Persea
  • Populus
  • Prunus
  • Quercus
  • Robinia
  • Salix
  • Sorbus
  • Taxus
  • Tilia
  • Ulmus

The prohibition does not apply to seeds, fruits, leaves, tissue culture material and naturally or artificially dwarfed woody plants of these species.

High risk plant products

These plant products are prohibited:

  • plants of Ullucus tuberosus are prohibited from all third countries
  • fruits of Momordica are prohibited from third countries where Thrips palmi is present and effective mitigation measures are not in place

Plants and products subject to import controls

The list of third country plants and products requiring pre-notification and import controls to enter the UK now includes:

  • root and tubercle vegetables from all third countries
  • additional categories of new and used agricultural machinery
  • changes to third country requirements for some plants and seeds for sowing

The full list of plants and products from third countries that will require pre-notification and import controls to enter the UK is set out in plant species by import category.

Read guidance on the TARIC code commodity mapping of these plants and products for data entry onto PEACH.

Published 3 December 2019
Last updated 25 September 2020 + show all updates
  1. Removed "*wood of Ulmus is prohibited from third countries where Saperda tridentata is known to occur" from list of high risk plant products.

  2. Updated the baggage allowance rules.

  3. Added section on Plants and products subject to import controls

  4. Added information on personal baggage allowance.

  5. Removed 'prohibited' from: You do not need a phytosanitary certificate if the plants, living parts of plants or seeds for planting are prohibited or specifically listed.

  6. First published.