Imports from countries outside the European Union (EU)
The importation of particular plants and plant products from certain third countries (countries outside of the European Union) is prohibited.
In general, all plants and some categories of plant produce that are permitted to enter Northern Ireland from third countries must be accompanied by a phytosanitary certificate. This confirms that the plants or plant produce to which it relates have been officially inspected in the country of origin (or country of dispatch), comply with statutory requirements for entry into the UK and are free from quarantine pests and diseases. . Any plants that are imported directly into Northern Ireland from outside of the EU may only enter via Belfast City or International Airports, Belfast Port, Larne Port or Warrenpoint Port and must comply with all relevant Plant Health legislation. For more detail on what is regulated under Plant Health legislation, please refer to the summary guide below or see here.
Businesses or individuals wishing to import plants from countries outside of the EU must register with DAERA as a Professional Operator or update their existing registration to include their new activity as an importer. To register, please use the forms available here or contact Plant Health Inspection Branch directly.
At importation, DAERA Plant Health Inspectors carry out documentary and identity checks on plants and controlled plant products from non EU countries. There is a charge for these inspections. Documentary checks are always charged, while additional identity checks and plant health inspections are completed at set frequencies according to Commission Regulation (EC) 1756/2004 and may be charged at reduced inspection fees depending on the category of plant material and the country of origin.
Imports of plants and controlled plant products must be notified to DAERA no less than one working day in advance of arrival (four working hrs if arriving by air). Different rules apply for importing potatoes or wood and bark products. Notification must be given by completing a CHED-PP part 1 on TRACES.NT.
This must be done by the person responsible for the consignment, which should be the importer or an agent with an NI or EU address. Please upload a scanned colour copy of the accompanying phytosanitary certificate (including all attached pages) and ensure that all details entered on TRACES NT are correct. Please also include the registration number of the vehicle carrying the goods and/or the container number, as applicable. This will facilitate smooth movement of all consignments. More information on the TRACES NT system is available here. A step-by-step guide on how to register and create a CHED PP is available below.
A Certificate of Conformity is required for certain fruit and vegetable produce which is subject to a 'Specific Marketing Standard' (SMS) before it is released from the port.
Imports from countries within the European Union
Requirements to notify imports to Northern Ireland from EU countries and Switzerland of certain tree and woody plant genera.
As of 1st of December 2018, there is a notification requirement for certain tree species and woody plant species imported directly from countries within the European Union. These are tree species within the genera of Castanea (Sweet Chestnut), Fraxinus (Ash), Pinus (Pine), Platanus (Plane), Prunus (e.g. Cherry, Plum, Laurel), Quercus (Oak) and Ulmus (Elm). As of the 28th of March 2019, Olea (Olive) has also been added to this list as it is an important host species for the bacterial pathogen Xylella fastidiosa. This requirement also applies to imports from Switzerland.
It is important to note that Northern Ireland has Protected Zone status for certain pests and diseases associated with many of these genera and relevant passporting requirements apply.
Landings of plants for planting of the relevant genera must be notified to DAERA prior to or up to 4 days after landing in Northern Ireland using the form found below.
Exports of certain plants may be prohibited by the importing country. Where exports are permitted, the regulated plants or plant products must normally be accompanied by a phytosanitary certificate. This confirms that the plants or plant products to which it relates have been officially inspected in the country of origin (or country of dispatch), comply with statutory requirements for entry into the importing country and are free from quarantine pests and diseases. It is the responsibility of the individual wishing to export the regulated plant or plant related products to check with the importing (receiving) country what statutory requirements must be met to allow entry to that particular country.
Businesses or individuals wishing to export plants to third countries (countries outside of the European Union) must request a phytosanitary certificate from DAERA. As it may be necessary to carry out certain checks before issuing a phytosanitary certificate, please submit a phytosanitary certificate application to DAERA at the earliest opportunity.
Plants and plant products may move freely within the European Single Market, without inspections at national borders.
All plants for planting and some plant products require a plant passport to facilitate their movement. Where required, a passport is needed both for movements within and between member states, and additional requirements apply for movements into and within EU Protected Zones. Plant passports are a guarantee that the material meets the plant health requirements for freedom from ‘quarantine’ organisms.
Plant passports may only be issued by growers who are registered and authorised for the purpose. Authorisation is granted on the basis of inspections of plants, premises and records by a Plant Health Inspection Branch Inspector.
If you would like any further information on the DAERA Plant Passporting system, please phone 0300 200 7847 or Email email@example.com.
Personal imports of Plants and Plant Products into Northern Ireland
If you are travelling in the EU, you can bring live plants and plant products (such as cut flowers, fruit or vegetables) into Northern Ireland without any documentary or physical checks, as long as they have been grown in an EU country, are free from pests or diseases and are for your own personal use.
However, you are advised to retain any receipt(s) and/or pot label(s) relating to plant purchases made in the EU, for movement into NI. In this context, “EU” includes the 27 member countries plus Andorra, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, San Marino and Switzerland.
Bringing some plants and plant products into Northern Ireland from areas within the EU is restricted because of the Northern Ireland ‘Protected Zone’ status against a range of pest and diseases. More information about the Northern Ireland Protected Zones is available at the following page: List of pests and diseases for which NI has PZ status | Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (daera-ni.gov.uk)
There is no personal allowance for plants in personal baggage when entering Northern Ireland from a non-EU (“third”) country. If you intend to bring plants or plant products (including cut flowers) with you into Northern Ireland from a non-EU country (including England, Scotland or Wales), then they must be accompanied by a valid phytosanitary (plant health) certificate, attesting that they are free from specific pests and diseases.
An exemption exists for fruits of banana, coconut, durian, date and pineapple, which do not require a phytosanitary certificate for importation from outside the EU.
Since April 2022, phytosanitary certificates can only be issued for plants grown and inspected on registered, professional premises until their time of sale / export.
Hence, private individuals are no longer eligible to apply for a phytosanitary certificate to cover such plant movements and cannot legally bring these items with them from Great Britain into Northern Ireland.
The above rules also apply if you want to order live “plants for planting” (including seeds, bulbs, tubers and corms) online or have them sent by mail.
Further details of controls around personal imports of food and plant produce can be accessed at the page linked below:
DAERA inspectors at ‘points of entry’ (ports and airports) are authorised to seize any materials deemed to be a potential risk to plant health, at their discretion.