importing plants and plant products

From 1st January 2021 the United Kingdom will operate a full, external border as a sovereign nation. New controls will be placed on the movement of goods between the EU and UK, and UK businesses involved in the import of plants and plant material may need to adapt their working practices.  


- Phytosanitary certificates replace EU Plant Passports
- Border Control Posts 
- Place of Destination Scheme
    - Pre-notification terms 
    - Consignment inspection periods 
    - Multi-drop consignments and consignments split across lorries
    - Movement of material from Place of Destination
- Fees for EU high-priority goods
- Content and format of UK Plant Passports
- 'Pest Free Area' to replace 'Protected Zones'
- IT systems associated with importing plants and plant products
    - PEACH
    - IPAFFS
- Useful links

Phytosanitary certificates required for plants and plant products entering the UK 

From 1st January 2021, imports into the UK from the EU which previously arrived with an EU Plant Passport will instead require a phytosanitary certificate upon departure from the EU. Phytosanitary certificates will be issued by the plant health authority in the country where a supplier is based.    

Border Control Posts (BCP)

Border Control Posts will be built and plant health inspectors recruited throughout Great Britain (GB) during 2021, with the aim of performing physical checks on regulated goods - which include all plants for planting - upon entry into GB from January 2022. 

Border Control Posts will be positioned throughout England, Wales and Scotland, meaning once physical checks have been performed and material cleared, goods can be transported throughout GB.  Click here for a list of up to date BCP locations for plant imports within Great Britain.  

From January 1st 2022, physical and identity checks of high priority plants and plant products will move from Places of Destination to Border Control Posts.  The requirement for pre-notification and phytosanitary certificates will be extended to all regulated plants and plant products (i.e. not just those which are ‘high-priority’). 

From 1st March 2022, the UK’s Border Operating Model will be fully operational, with physical and identity checks on all regulated plants and plant products carried out at Border Control Posts.  

Place of Destination (PoD) Scheme (during 2021 only)

Until BCPs are fully commissioned, a system of site or premises-based physical inspections on high priority plants and plant products (please click here for a complete list of these) will be introduced by Defra on the 1st January 2021 and last throughout 2021.  This means that, from 1st January 2021 until 31st December 2021, businesses must notify Defra of imports and register a 'Place of Destination' for plant(s) or plant material(s) where physical and identity checks - undertaken by a Defra plant health inspector - can take place.  There is no charge for this procedure. 

The inspection may be carried out on plants or plant materials arriving from the EU and are either:

a) being delivered to a yard/compound  
b) going direct to a UK site and being planted at this same site

The phytosanitary certificate issued in the EU can accompany the consignment to this 'place of destination' without a UK Plant Passport being required, providing the place of destination is registered using this form and emailed to the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) at this address.   

Movement of materials in this way is subject to pre-notification via an internet-based Defra tool called 'Procedure for Electronic Application for Certificates' (PEACH).  

The terms of pre-notification are as follows:

  • By air and roll-on-roll-off freight; at least 4 working hours before the consignment lands arrives in GB
  • All other freight; at least 1 working day before the consignment arrives in GB

APHA inspectors will aim to inspect consignments within 4 working hours of the inspection ready time provided by the importer in their pre-notification. APHA can carry out inspections of consignments at registered PoDs 7 days a week, from 7am to 7pm.  Where this is not possible the goods should be held over to the following day for the inspection and clearance of goods to be completed. 

Whilst importers can only register a PoD in their own name if they have ownership of that site, it is likely that importers may wish to send some consignments to addresses which belong to their client or customer.  In this situation, importers and PoD must confirm their business relationship to ensure their accounts are linked in PEACH and valid applications can be completed.  This can be completed via email to the PoD registration email address:
It is suggested the following text is used: As importer X – name and full address, I require to be linked with PoD Y – name and full addess, in the PEACH system.  

Fees for EU high-priority goods

Fees and charging for plant health controls (documentary, identity, and physical checks) on imports of EU high-priority plants and plant products will be introduced on Tuesday 1 June 2021 in England, Wales and Scotland. 

Further guidance providing an explanation of how these fees are to be applied, including those intended for final user, are available on the Plant Health Portal.  Please click here for more details. 

Phytosanitary certificate and pre-notification requirements for multi-drop consignments and consignments split across lorries 

Importers utilising the multidrop system must ensure they pass forward information regarding the Phytosanitary certificate and PEACH application number off the drop off points for the consignment to ensure goods can be traced back to the notification on PEACH. This provides a direct line of traceability to the relevant plant health authorities.

Defra have issued guidance for the phytosanitary certificate and pre-notification requirements for 5 scenarios, to help importers understand how plants or plant products may be imported into the UK under the new post-Brexit regime. BALI have listed 2 of the most common scenarios below, but please click this link for the other scenarios.   

Scenario 1 

One lorry contains plant consignments from one or multiple exporter(s) for multiple importers destined for different addresses or sites within the UK. 

Pre-notification and phytosanitary certificate requirements
Each separate consignment destined for each premises must have a phytosanitary certificate and pre-notification submitted to the relevant plant health service by each importer. Labelling and marking of each separate consignment in the lorry must be clear to make sure that consignments do not get mixed.

Each consignment, once at its respective place of destination, must not be split until the necessary import controls have been performed.  This means the lorry can drop each distinct consignment covered by a phytosanitary certificate and importers pre-notification at each PoD along a route, providing more flexibility.

Plant passporting requirements
Unless each place of destination is a retailer selling direct to customers, the place of destination will need to be authorised to issue plant passports for any onward movement of plant passported goods.

Scenario 2
One lorry contains plant consignments for one importer is routed into a distribution centre from which orders are dispatched to customers/retail stores.  This example could cover large scale retailers or growers who take on importing responsibilities on behalf of their customers. 

Pre-notification and phytosanitary certificate requirements
The distribution centre would act as the PoD and the plant health import controls would be performed there. The importer may use one PC to accompany the consignment to the PoD, with only one pre-notification required.

Plant passporting requirements
The distribution centre acting as the PoD would not qualify as a retailer selling goods directly to customer, therefore the distribution centre will need to be authorised to issue plant passports for any onward movement of goods requiring a plant passport.

Movement of plants and plant material from 'Place of Destination'

Phytosanitary certificates must be replaced with a UK Plant Passport at the 'Place of Destination' if the operator meets any of the below criteria:

  • Moving material to another professional operator;
  • Selling material to final users (those buying for personal use) by means of distance contract, e.g. online;
  • Moving material to another of their own premises which is more than 10 miles from the premises to which the consignment arrived;
  • If the phytosanitary status of the consignment changes, for example, if it has been grown on or if they have been reconfigured (e.g. two plants in separate pots have been planted up in a new pot together).

To help ease the transition to the new UK Plant Passport process in 2021, Defra have permitted EU-based operators to attach UK Plant Passports to consignments destined for the UK for the first 6 months of 2021 only.  This decision is to help the onward movement of plants and plant material once cleared at the First Place of Destination, and will help operators. 

UK Plant Passports attached by EU-based operators must be generated by UK-based operators authorised to issue UK Plant Passports, and will have no legal status until they reach their First Place of Destination in the UK.  A phytosanitary certificate will still be required on all material entering the UK from the EU.   

The content and format of UK Plant Passports differs from the EU Plant Passports previously used

To make EU Plant Passports and UK Plant Passports easier to distinguish, UK Plant Passports (below left) feature the following:

  • No flag on UK Plant Passports 
  • 'UK Plant Passport' words rather than the current 'Plant Passport'
  • No changes to Section A (botanical name)
  • Section B will no longer be prefixed with 'GB'
  • No changes to Section C (traceability codes)
  • Section D (country of origin) will change slightly for some plant species.  Details to be confirmed.Plant passport

Please click on this link to review the changes in more detail and see example templates.

The EU term ‘Protected zones’ will change to 'Pest Free Areas'

GB will use the internationally recognised term ‘Pest Free Areas’ (PFA). Pests previously referred to as Protected Zone pests will either become GB quarantine pests, which refers to the fact that the pest is absent throughout the UK, or PFA pests, which refers to those pests that are absent in only part of GB.

Commodities which are hosts of GB quarantine pests will require standard UK Plant Passports (please see image above) for movement within the UK, whereas commodities which are hosts of PFA pests will require PFA UK Plant Passports (please see image, below) for movement within GB. 


IT systems associated with importing plants and plant products 

Imports of plants and plant materials are currently pre-notified via an internet-based Defra tool called 'Procedure for Electronic Application for Certificates' (PEACH).  

A step-by-step guide for using PEACH is available on the Plant Health Portal; click here to view this guide.  It is necessary to register before using PEACH; click here to register.

The IT system used to facilitate pre-notification of imports of plants and plant products is due to move from the current PEACH system to a new system called Import of Products, Animals, Food and Feed System (IPAFFS) during 2021.

From mid-May: a small group of invited representatives from trade bodies will have access to a test version of the Plants IPAFFS service, to provide feedback. 
In early June 2021: A small group of traders will be invited to register to and test the functionality and capability of the live system, before wider rollout.    

From August 2021: New trade and all other existing PEACH users will be invited to register and use the IPAFFS service.  Note: You should continue to use PEACH and eDomero until directed to register for and use the new services. Further guidance and support will be offered before, during, and after the transition.

Email questions about the new system directly to Defra by clicking on this link

Please click here for more general information on IPAFFS.  

Useful links

Plant Health Portal

Plant Passports and the Post-Transition Period factsheet