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.  The changes below will apply from 1st January 2021:  

The content and format of UK Plant Passports will differ from the EU Plant Passports currently used

To make EU Plant Passports and UK Plant Passports easier to distinguish post-Brexit, UK Plant Passports (below left) will 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.

UK Plant Passports cannot be attached in the EU, and EU Plant Passports cannot be attached in the United Kingdom. 

From 1st January 2021, an operator in the EU will no longer be authorised to issue a UK plant passport under the new GB Plant Health Regime and vice versa.  EU Plant Passports entering GB will automatically be considered invalid. 

Phytosanitary certificates will be required for plants and plant products on departure from the EU to the UK 

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

Once in the UK, plants and plant material may require a UK plant passport for movement from 'First Place of Destination'

Phytosanitary certificates will need to be replaced with a UK Plant Passport at the 'First 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).

From 1st January 2021 until 30th June 2021, if plant(s) or plant material(s) from the EU are 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 that site without a UK Plant Passport being required.  Movement of materials in this way are subject to pre-notification via the PEACH website, together with physical and identity checks that will occur at place of destination.  Please see section below for more information regarding physical and identity checks during 2021. 

Physical and identity checks on regulated plant products and the introduction of Border Control Posts (BCP)

Border Control Posts (BCPs) will be built and plant health inspectors recruited throughout the UK during 2021, with the aim of performing physical checks on regulated goods - which include all plants for planting - from July 2021.  Until BCPs are fully commissioned, a system of site-based physical inspections on plants will be introduced on the 1st January and last throughout the first half of 2021.  This phasing will work as follows:     

  • From 1 January 2021, only ‘high priority’ plants and plant products (which include all plants for planting) must have a phytosanitary certificate and pre-notification prior to entry in the UK.  These will be subject to physical and identity checks by plant health inspectors that will occur at first place of destination (POD), for which no fee will be charged.  Click here for process.  
  • From April 2021, all regulated plants and plant products (which include all plants for planting) must have a phytosanitary certificate and pre-notification (details of pre-notification to be advised by APHA). Physical checks will still only be required on EU high priority goods at place of destination. 
  • From July 2021 physical and identity checks will move to Border Control Posts and the number of physical and identity checks will increase.  The use of PODs for checks on goods from the EU will no longer be permitted.

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. 


Useful links

Plant Health Portal

Plant Passports and the Post-Transition Period factsheet