Guidance

Using the PEACH system to import plants and fresh produce

How to register with and use the Procedure for Electronic Application for Certificates (PEACH) online system to comply with regulations when importing plants or fruits and vegetables.

Applies to England and Wales

Introduction

The Procedure for Electronic Application for Certificates from the Horticultural Marketing Inspectorate (PEACH) is an online tool you must use to import certain plants, fruits and vegetables into Great Britain (England, Wales and Scotland). The PEACH system does not cover Northern Ireland.

Some fruit and vegetables need to meet certain standards to be imported to Great Britain.

You can apply for a certificate of conformity using the PEACH system if you’re planning to import fruit and vegetables.

Import to Scotland

If you import from an EU country to Scotland, you’ll need to use the PEACH system.

If you import from a non-EU country to Scotland, you’ll need to contact the Scottish Government Horticulture and Marketing Unit.

Import to NI

If you import plants, fruits or vegetables directly into Northern Ireland, you’ll need to contact the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA).

Upcoming changes to PEACH

The PEACH system will be changing to a new IT system in early 2021. You’ll be contacted to register for the new system when this happens. You should continue to use PEACH for import pre-notifications until then.

An overview of the PEACH system

The PEACH system helps you comply with pre-notification requirements for certain consignments being imported into Great Britain.

PEACH can be used for consignments of fruit, vegetables, nuts and other goods covered by the Great Britain Marketing Standards and consignments of goods covered by plant health regulations.

PEACH and the Great Britain Marketing Standards

Two distinct sets of Great Britain Marketing Standards stipulate quality and labelling requirements for consignments of fresh produce being imported into Great Britain. Read the new and existing fresh fruit and vegetables marketing standards.

A certificate of conformity - Horticultural Marketing Inspectorate (HMI) - indicates whether a consignment has met the quality and labelling requirements as set out in the Great Britain Marketing Standards.

Since July 2009, a range of fruit and vegetables no longer requires an HMI certificate of conformity at import.

However, the following 10 types of fresh fruit and vegetables must continue to comply with Specific Marketing Standards and will continue to require notification prior to import and certification:

  • apples
  • citrus fruit
  • kiwi fruit
  • peaches and nectarines
  • pears
  • strawberries
  • table grapes
  • lettuces, curled-leaved and broad-leaved endives
  • sweet peppers
  • tomatoes

If you do not have a certificate of conformity for any of these commodities, your consignments will not be cleared for free circulation in Great Britain. All consignments must be accompanied by a certificate of conformity before they can be customs cleared.

Register for PEACH on the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) website.

The PEACH system may be used by traders - or their agents - to apply for a certificate of conformity. However, use of PEACH is not mandatory for this purpose.

Paper applications will also be accepted, although the goods in question will normally be subject to a physical inspection.

PEACH and plant health regulations

PEACH also deals with import consignments.

Most plants, some plant products and produce imported from outside Great Britain must be accompanied by a phytosanitary certificate (PC). Imports of these goods must be pre-notified to the UK’s Plant Health and Seeds Inspectorate (PHSI).

Traders and their agents must use the PEACH system to pre-notify any import consignments of goods requiring a PC. Using PEACH is mandatory in this instance - there is no paper-based alternative.

Read guides on importing for plants, plant produce and products to Great Britain and a list of plant species by import category.

You can also read a PEACH user guide and more information can be found on the Plant Health Portal.

How to open a PEACH account

The first step is to register for the PEACH system from Defra.

Entering your contact details generates the first of 2 pieces of information, or ‘known facts’, which are used to identify you. The first known fact is your Company ID. Once your application has been approved, you’re sent the second known fact - your trader number.

You’ll be prompted to register on Government Gateway if you do not already have an account. Once you have registered with Government Gateway, you’ll be able to log into PEACH.

Using the PEACH system

Many of the forms you complete will require the same core information.

To save you time, your completed application forms are saved for re-use. You can re-use this information on future applications from the drop down list under ‘Use a previous form’.

If you’re an agent with a number of traders linked to you, you’ll need to select the trader you’re making the application for.

Similarly, as a trader you may choose from a number of agents you have been previously linked to. A trader-agent link can be made when both parties have contacted the PEACH helpdesk.

Use the ‘View Outstanding Applications’ button to see all of your outstanding applications, with their current risk assessment. To find out what the symbols mean, select ‘Show Legend’ at the top of the screen.

If you have a large number of applications on the PEACH system, you can locate a specific application - outstanding or completed - using the search facility. If the application number you enter is valid, the application will be displayed.

If you are applying for a certificate of conformity, you can use the PEACH system to print out your certificate once your application has been approved. If your consignment is refused entry, you’ll be told why your consignment failed its inspection and what you need to do to bring it into conformity.

Common reasons for consignments being refused entry include missing information pertaining to country of origin or incorrect labelling.

When pre-notifying consignments due to arrive by air, you must notify the Plant Health and Seeds Inspectorate (PHSI) at least 4 working hours ahead of their expected arrival time on PEACH. For all other imports you must give PHSI at least 3 working days’ advance notification.

If you have any difficulties, you can contact the PEACH Helpdesk on 0345 607 3224 or email them at peachenquiries@rpa.gov.uk.

You can also read a PEACH user guide and more information be found on the Plant Health Portal.

Import risk assessment for goods requiring a certificate of conformity

If you import fresh fruit, vegetables, salad crops or nuts into Great Britain, and they’re subject to the Great Britain Specific Marketing Standards, they may need a physical inspection. This inspection is carried out by HMI and the produce must pass the inspection before a certificate of conformity is granted.

For applications made using the PEACH system, a risk assessment is conducted using the Import Risk Assessment System (IRAS). Each consignment is given a risk category.

They are:

  • red for high risk - where possible, all consignments in this category are physically inspected
  • amber for medium risk - for consignments placed in the amber category, an inspector will decide whether a physical inspection is necessary
  • green for low risk - consignments in this category are automatically granted a certificate of conformity

Physical inspections usually take place at the point of entry of your consignment. However, if you apply for - and meet - the requirements of the local clearance procedure within Customs Freight Simplified Procedures (CFSP), the inspections can be carried out at your own premises.

If your imported goods are covered by both the Great Britain Marketing Standards and by plant health regulations, your consignment will only be inspected once. HMI inspectors have been trained to identify key plant health issues and plant health inspectors will notify HMI of any marketing standards concerns that arise.

‘Paper’ applications for certificates of conformity can be made without using the PEACH system and sent to the inspectors at the point of entry of your consignment.

However, these applications are normally treated as red (high risk) and are subject to a physical inspection. This could result in delays before customs clearance. You’ll have to pay for physical inspections.

Paper applications are not accepted for imports covered by plant health regulations - these must be pre-notified using PEACH.

If your consignment does not meet Great Britain Marketing Standards, you’ll be liable for any charges needed to bring your consignment up to the required standard for entry into Great Britain. Labelling is a common reason for failure and could result in your whole consignment having to be checked. Any labour charges are borne by the applicant of the certificate.

Consignments must also comply with HMRC requirements. All documentation must be in order before a consignment is given customs clearance.

Making the most of PEACH

Once you feel confident using the PEACH system, there are a number of things you can do to save your business time and improve your efficiency.

PEACH automatically saves applications. If they’re part-filled, they’re saved for completion later. If they’re completed, they’re saved for re-use as templates. You can therefore use completed applications as templates for other applications, which will save you time.

If you employ an agent to handle your imported consignments, their details should be set up on the PEACH system. You and your agent should let their local regional inspection office or the PEACH helpline know that they will be representing your importing business.

You can transfer bulk information from your system to PEACH using this imported plant materials spreadsheet, which is particularly useful for large importing businesses. This can also be found on the front page of PEACH.

If you’re importing plants for planting you must upload a CSV file as part of the application process. You can use the imported plant material details spreadsheet to do this.

The PEACH system also allows you to view statistics based on your applications. This tool can provide useful data for your business, for example, why your consignments have been given a high-risk assessment.

If you would like other people in your business to access your PEACH system, you can set up Assistants on your Government Gateway account. However, Assistants have limited access rights.

They cannot enrol in new Gateway services or create or delete other Assistants or users. This can be useful if you, as the primary user, have used other systems on the Government Gateway and wish to restrict access to the information held on them.

Further information

PEACH Helpdesk

0345 607 3224

Plant Health Imports Helpdesk

0300 100 0313

Published 9 October 2012
Last updated 31 December 2020 + show all updates
  1. Removal of Quarantine Release Certificate paragraphs and updates on how to comply with rules from 1 January.

  2. First published.