Importing and exporting plants and plant products if the UK leaves the EU without a deal

How to trade in plants and plant products inside and outside the EU if the UK leaves the EU in March 2019 with no deal.

‘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, unprocessed or having undergone simple preparation, in so far as these are not plants, including wood and bark.

Importing plants and plant products from the EU

The majority of plants and plant products (including fruit, vegetables and cut flowers) imported from the EU will continue to enter the UK freely, as currently.

After the UK leaves the EU, any plants and plant products currently managed under the EU plant passport scheme will be subject to UK import controls and become ‘regulated commodities’. This replaces the EU plant passport’s assurance and traceability, and maintains biosecurity.

When you import plants or plant products that are currently managed under the EU plant passport scheme, you’ll need to:

Notice periods for imports

You must give notice each time you bring a consignment into the UK from the EU for consignments :

  • brought in by air – 4 working hours
  • being brought in by another route – 3 working days

How to find your relevant plant health authority

Give notice by informing the relevant plant health authority on the PEACH website for England and Wales.

Importers in Scotland and Northern Ireland use their own plant health authorities.

How to register timber products for import

You must inform the Forestry Commission.

How border checks will be carried out

Regulated plants and plant products originating in the EU will not be stopped at the border.

The relevant UK plant health authority will carry out their documentary and identity checks remotely. This will be a virtual check using the documents submitted as part of the pre-notification and will not require the goods to stop inland. These checks will be charged for by the plant health authority. You will also be charged for any Forestry Commission checks.

Plant health inspectors will continue to carry out follow-up surveillance and inspections inland in line with current policies. The government does not charge for such inspections.

Steps to take now to prepare for EU Exit

You can prepare by:

Importing plants and plant products from third countries via the EU

Find out how to import plants, fruit, vegetables and plant materials to the UK from third countries and how to import and export wood and timber productsusing the current rules.

In a no deal scenario, the EU would no longer be obliged to carry out plant health checks on regulated third- country goods going to the UK.

Plants and plant products that come from third countries via the EU without plant health checks by an EU member state, will be treated as third-country imports.

Many plants and plant products entering the UK via the EU arrive at fast-moving roll-on roll-off (RoRo) ports where checks at the border would create significant disruptions to traffic. All third-country plant health controlled material arriving in the UK via RoRo ports requiring checks will have to go to a plant health approved facility for inspection.

These facilities include:

  • Place of First Arrival (PoFA) – trade premises that have been authorised to host plant health controls on third country material entering the UK via the EU at RoRo ports
  • other facilities that have been authorised for Plant Health control (‘alternative inspection posts’)

You must ensure that plant health checks are carried out on third-country material entering the UK via the EU by doing one of the following:

How to register as a place of first arrival

You may need to speak to suppliers about whether the plants and plant products they import from third countries are likely to move to the UK via the EU. Consider whether to apply for PoFA status before 29 March 2019 (may also apply to new exit date on 31 December 2020).

To import third-country material that need plant health checks in the UK via RoRo ports, you’ll need to:

  • read the PoFA standards and take any necessary steps to ensure your premises meet the requirements
  • apply to be authorised by the relevant plant health authority – you’ll need to complete the relevant PoFA form for plant and plant products or for wood and timber products.
  • for goods that are entering the UK via a RoRo port in England or Wales, give notice of a consignment’s arrival and its location to the plant health authority using the PEACH website
  • for goods that are entering the UK via a RoRo port in Scotland or Northern Ireland, give notice to the relevant plant health authority
  • for regulated wood, wood products or bark, complete a Notice of Landing form for Forestry Commission checks
  • hold consignments at your premises until the plant health authority has carried out its checks and released the goods

Preparing your premises for Place of First Arrival (PoFA) approval

If your goods are entering the UK at a RoRo port in England or Wales, follow these steps to prepare your premises for PoFA:

  1. Register on the PEACH website or with the Forestry Commission as a registered trader if you are in England or Wales.
  2. Apply to the Animal and Plant Health Agency or the Forestry Commissionfor your premises to be authorised as a PoFA.
  3. Speak to suppliers about whether the plants and plant products they import from the EU may need third country checks in the UK after Brexit.
  4. Consider using alternative authorised points of entry that avoid RoRoports.
  5. Keep up to date with the HMRC Partnership Pack full list of authorised points of entry.

Exporting plants and plant products to the EU

In a no deal scenario, the UK will become a third country and will need to meet EU third country import requirements to export regulated plants and plant products to the EU.

For exports to the EU third-country rules will apply on all:

The process for sending controlled plants and plant products to the EU will be the same as the current process for sending them to third countries. When you export controlled plants and plant products to third countries, you need to:

  • check whether a phytosanitary certificate (PC) is required by contacting the plant health authority or a plant health inspector in the destination country
  • apply for a PC from the relevant UK plant health authority before export – if you’re based in England and Wales you will need to register on the eDomero system to apply for a PC.
  • check if your plants require laboratory testing of samples to ensure they are free from pests and diseases or inspections during the growing season – contact your local plant health inspector to find out if your plants need these tests before exporting

Controlled plant and plant products exports to the EU from the UK may be subject to checks at the EU border .

Steps to take now to prepare for EU Exit

To prepare for EU exit you need to:

  • check with the relevant UK plant health authority to find out if consignments need a PC
  • use the export plants, seeds, bulbs and wood guidance on EU plant health import requirements to help you prepare your export correctly
  • contact your local UK plant health inspector for advice
  • exporters in England and Wales can register for the eDomero IT system or with the Forestry Commission as a registered trader – exporters in Scotlandand Northern Ireland should refer to local guidance

Moving controlled plants and plant products within the UK

Plant and plant products currently covered by EU plant passports for movements within the UK will need to be moved with a UK plant passport. When moving regulated plants in the UK, you’ll need to:

  • register with the relevant UK plant health authority
  • be authorised to issue plant passports
  • replace references to ‘EU’ with ‘UK’ when issuing plant passports

Movement of wood packaging material

Wood packaging material (WPM) moving between the UK and the rest of the EU can currently move freely without checks or controls.

WPM includes:

  • pallets
  • crates
  • boxes
  • cable drums
  • spools
  • dunnage

In the event of no deal, all WPM moving between the UK and the EU must meet ISPM15 international standards by undergoing heat treatment and marking. All WPM may be subject to official checks either upon or after entry to the EU.

Checks on WPM will continue to be carried out in the UK on a risk-targeted basis only. The plant health risk from WPM imported from the EU is not expected to change as a result of an EU exit.

Steps to take now to prepare for EU Exit

Contact your supplier or TIMCON if you need more advice about moving WPM after the UK leaves the EU with no deal.

Trade agreements

If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, there will be no implementation period. In this scenario, the government will seek to bring into force UK-third country agreements from exit day, or as soon as possible afterwards.

These new agreements will replicate existing EU agreements as far as possible. Where replacement trade agreements are not agreed, trade would take place on World Trade Organisation (WTO) terms with that country. Details of each agreement will be shared with parliament and the public when they have been agreed.

Read the guidance on existing free trade agreements if there’s no Brexit deal.

Published 19 December 2018
Last updated 4 March 2019 

Share this article