A quick guide to Importing plants and plant products from the E.U. to Great Britain


The term ‘plant’ refers to a living plant or a living portion of a plant at any stage of development. This category encompasses trees and shrubs.

‘Plant product’ refers to raw or minimally processed plant products. This category contains wood and bamboo.

This guide describes what you should do if your consignments are subject to any or all plant health controls. Plant health restrictions apply to regulated items. Plants and plant products that are not regulated are not subjected to plant health controls.

Controls for plant health include the following:

  • Phytosanitary certifications – documents issued in the country of origin that prove the consignment is biosecure.
  • Pre-notification – you must notify the appropriate authority in advance of importing regulated plants and plant products from the E.U. to the United Kingdom.
  • Examining official certifications and papers – an inspector analyses official certificates and documentation (these take place away from the border).
  • Checks for identity – an inspector verifies that the contents and labelling of the items correspond to the information contained in certifications and other papers.
  • Physical inspections – an inspector examines the plants’ health, the packing, mode of shipping, and labelling of the consignment and assists you with any additional tests that may be required.

Steps for importing regulated and notifiable high-priority goods

Regulated and high-priority goods include the following: 

  • All plants for planting
  • Ware potatoes
  • Some seed for sowing and other plant or forest reproductive material
  • Some wood and wood products
  • Used agricultural or forestry machinery

If you import high-priority goods, you need to follow through with the following steps: 

  • Register as a destination or use an already-registered destination (this is where any physical and identity checks will take place).
  • Obtain a phytosanitary certificate from your exporter in the European Union.
  • As an importer, you must register with the Import I.T. System.
  • Pre-notify your items for import into England, Scotland, or Wales via the Import I.T. System.
  • Comply with required paperwork, identity, and physical checks.
  • From 1 June 2021, you will be required to pay for plant health inspections.
  • Comply with I.S.P.M. 15 international requirements when using any wood packing material.

From 1 July 2022, all physical and identity checks on high-priority products will be conducted at border control points in the United Kingdom rather than at the destination point.

Steps for importing other regulated goods

Other regulated items imported from the E.U. (excluding the Republic of Ireland) will also be subject to some plant health controls beginning 1 January 2022. You can find a complete list of all regulated and notifiable goods on the Plant Health Portal

From 1 January 2022, you must comply with the following requirements if you import regulated and notifiable items from the E.U. (excluding the Republic of Ireland):

  1. Register on the Import I.T. System as an importer.
  2. Use the Import I.T. System to pre-notify your goods for import in England, Scotland or Wales.

From 1 July 2022, you’ll need to:

  1. Get a phytosanitary certificate from your E.U. exporter.
  2. Comply with documentary checks.
  3. Pay fees for any plant health checks.

Beginning 1 July 2022, all regulated and notifiable items will be subjected to comprehensive plant health controls. Border control points in the United Kingdom will conduct identity and physical checks.

Getting a phytosanitary certificate

To import controlled plants and plant products, you must get a phytosanitary certificate from the country where your supplier is located.

A phytosanitary certificate is a declaration by the plant health authority that the consignment complies with the following:

  • It has been inspected by an official
  • It conforms with all legal requirements for admission into the United Kingdom
  • It is free of quarantine pests and diseases

The phytosanitary inspection specified in the certificate must occur no later than 14 days before the consignment is being dispatched from the country in which your supplier is located.

Within the same 14-day timeframe, someone from the inspecting plant health authority must sign the phytosanitary certificate.

Submitting documents after your consignment arrives

Within three days of your shipment of plants or plant products arriving in the United Kingdom (or as soon as feasible), you must send the original phytosanitary certificate to A.P.H.A.

Original phytosanitary certifications for wood, wood products, and bark must be submitted to the Forestry Commission within three days (or as soon as feasible) of the consignment’s arrival in the United Kingdom.

Register and pre-notify your goods on the relevant import I.T. system

If you’re importing goods for the first time from 1 January 2022, register to use I.P.A.F.F.
After completing your registration with the relevant I.T. system, you’ll be officially registered as a professional operator to import plants and plant products.

Having physical inspections for high-priority goods

Physical and identity checks on high-priority goods will take place in person during a physical inspection at a ‘place of destination’ or border control facility in the United Kingdom.

You can either use an already-registered location of destination or create your own. A destination must be a commercial establishment.

From 1 July 2022, all identity and physical checks on EU-bound high-priority products will be performed at British border control points. You will be unable to check any high-priority items at the destination point.

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