Glee News

09 Dec 2020

Business after Brexit: licensing and certifications for plants and plant products

Business after Brexit: licensing and certifications for plants and plant products

The Department for International Trade has released a series of new regulations outlining how trade must be conducted between the UK and the EU from 1st January 2021. Of course, these new rules are complex and pose their own challenges for UK retailers. That’s why in the coming weeks we will be outlining some of the key rules and regulations to help you understand exactly what Brexit will mean for your business.

For the horticultural and animal industries, this means some changes to the rules around licensing. From 1st January 2021, there will be new rules for importing live plants and plant products (such as seeds and untreated wood and bark) and live animals and animal products (such as feed).

As the process is a complex one, the changes will be phased in in three stages.

Stage One: 1st January 2021 – 1st April 2021

In Stage One certain plants and plant products imported from the EU will require:

  • a phytosanitary (health) certificate (PC)
  • a pre-notification submitted by the importer in England, Scotland or Wales
  • documentary and identity checks
  • a physical inspection

Regulated imports include:

  • all plants for planting
  • ware potatoes
  • some seed and other plant/forest reproductive material
  • some wood and wood products
  • used agricultural or forestry machinery

To prepare for Stage One, you will need to:

  • Understand phytosanitary certificate (PC) requirements. You must get a PC for each consignment from the plant health authority in the country where your supplier is.
  • Register with the Forestry Commission as a professional operator if you’re importing wood or wood products to England and Wales - importers in Scotland and Northern Ireland should refer to local guidance.
  • Register as an importer on PEACH if you are importing plants, fruit or vegetables.
  • Become a ‘place of destination’ if you want a physical plant health inspection for EU-regulated high- priority plants or plant products to take place at your premises. Find out what requirements you’ll need to meet and how to register here.

Stage Two: 1st April 2021 – 1st July 2021.

After 1st April, new regulations surrounding certain types of plants and produce will apply. Some fruits and leaves will not require a PC from 1st April 2021. A list of these can be found here. Anything not on this list will continue to require a PC.

From 1st April 2021, importers of the plants and plant products listed above in England and Wales will also be liable for inspection fees.

Stage Three: 1st July 2021 onwards

From this point, most regulated plants will be required to have identity and physical inspections and importers must notify the Animal Plant Health Association (APHA) or the Forestry Commission (FC) of all consignments of plants and plant products.


Notifying customs

If you are importing plants, you must register for the PEACH system and use it to make a pre-notification of your consignment to the authorities. You must do this every time you import a regulated shipment into the UK.

You will need to give notice of:

  • At least four working hours before the goods land in the UK, for air and ‘roll-on-roll-off’ freight
  • At least one working day before the goods arrive in the UK for all other freight

Plant breeding rights and marketing regulations

Brexit will also bring about some changes to plant variety rights and the way plant reproductive materials, like seeds, are packaged and marketed.

After 1st January 2021, plant breeders developing new varieties will need to apply separately in the UK and EU for protection.

The APHA will grant UK protection and the Community Plant Variety Office (CPVO) will grant EU protection. The EU will continue to recognise EU plant variety rights granted to all breeders before 1st January 2021.

As of 1st January 2021, the EU will no longer accept exports of UK certified plant reproductive material, including seeds and fruit propagating material. 

In terms of marketing, UK businesses will still apply normal international trading rules to the following products from the EU:

  • seed, vegetable seed and other propagating material
  • fruit propagating and planting material
  • ornamental species
  • forest reproductive material

In order to provide our retailers and exhibitors with the most up to date information surrounding Brexit and trade we will be publishing a series of bitesize guides surrounding the points above. Please keep up to date with the Glee blog for all the latest updates.


Discover more Brexit guidance here: 

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