Trading in fruit, vegetables and plant products

Approval and testing for horticultural goods


Many horticultural goods need to be inspected and approved before they can qualify for a Certificate of Conformity and then released into free circulation. The process depends on your type of goods and their destination. It's carried out through the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) Inspectorate Procedure for Electronic Application for Certificates (PEACH).

Inspection and approval for goods imported or exported under PEACH

Whether your goods will be inspected before they're granted a Certificate of Conformity depends on how the RPA Inspectorate grades them in the Import Risk Assessment System (IRAS).

There are three levels:

  • red - indicates high risk and all consignments are checked where possible
  • amber - indicates medium risk and inspection is at the discretion of an inspector
  • green - indicates low risk and no inspection is usually necessary

You can see the risk assessment criteria.

Inspections are usually carried out at the point of entry. However, if you're importing under Customs Freight Simplified Procedures (CFSP), you can use its Local Clearance Procedure and the inspection can be carried out at your premises.

If your goods pass the inspection, a Certificate of Conformity is issued and they can clear customs. If your goods are regulated by EC marketing standards and also by plant health controls HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) will require a quarantine release certificate (QRC), issued following completion of plant health inspection formalities, to release consignments into free circulation. Agents or traders can print the QRC from the PEACH system.

Access the notification application form HCG5.

Many consignments fail because they're incorrectly packaged and labelled. You can find out about labels in our guide on food labelling and packaging in international trade. You can save time and money by ensuring these elements are in order before your products are shipped to the port. In some circumstances, failed products are destroyed. You'll also have to pay any costs associated with destruction.