News article

Brexit: Exporting plants and plant products to the EU

3 October 2019


Exporters of plants and plant products to the EU should prepare for new requirements in case the UK leaves the EU without a withdrawal deal

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

Export rules and processes
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 Department for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) or a plant health inspector in the destination country
  • apply for a PC from DAERA before export
  • 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 DAERA 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 DAERA 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 DAERA Plant Health Inspector for advice

Prepare for Smarter Rules for Safer Food regulations
New EU regulations about importing plants and plant products from third countries come into force under the Smarter Rules for Safer Food (SRSF) package on 14 December 2019. This means that all relevant plants and plant products will need a phytosanitary certificate upon entry to the EU unless exempted.

Exempted food includes processed food or food products, for example prepared salads, sandwiches and stir-fry mixes.

The list of relevant plants and plant products which need a phytosanitary certificate for export to the EU will significantly increase under SRSF. The introduction of these changes for exports to the EU is not dependent on Brexit.

The EU SRSF plant health import requirements (PDF, 273KB) guide lists all plants and plant products originating in the UK that will require a phytosanitary certificate for export to the EU. Exporters should check with the relevant plant health authority in the importing country to find out what controls will apply when exporting plants and plant products.

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 controlled plants in the UK, you’ll need to:

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 (PDF, 758K). 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.

Contact your supplier 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.

Further information
You can find information on exporting plants and plant products to the EU in a no-deal scenario from GOV.UK and local guidance on plant exporting from DAERA.