Import and export of plants

The importation of plants and plant products into Northern Ireland is regulated with the aim of protecting plant health.

Plant Imports

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 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. This is primarily to facilitate the inspection of plants imported from non EU countries directly into Northern Ireland.

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. Two steps should be completed to notify of relevant consignments:

  1. Ensure that a CHED-PP part 1 is completed on TRACES NT. This must be done by the person responsible for the consignment, usually the agent or occasionally the importer. Please upload a copy of the accompanying phytosanitary certificate where possible and ensure that all details entered on TRACES NT are correct (especially addresses and postcodes). 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.

    - Guidance notes for registering on TRACES NT and creating a CHED PP
     
  2. Email a completed Plant Health Release Certificate request form and any relevant documents to phhort@daera-ni.gov.uk

    - Guidance notes and application form for a Plant Health Release Certificate

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, but not to relevant plants grown in Great Britain.

The relevant legislation is Article 25 of The Plant Health (Official Controls and Miscellaneous Provisions) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2019. Equivalent legislation is also in place in the rest of the UK. 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.

Plant Exports

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.  

Plant passporting

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 planthealth@daera-ni.gov.uk.

Personal imports

A phytosanitary certificate is now required for small quantities of plants and plant products carried in passenger luggage from outside of the EU and intended for personal use. Bringing soil and certain plants and plant products is prohibited from outside the EU. A small range of fruits (Durians, Dates, Pineapple, Coconut and Bananas) are permitted. Bringing some plants and plant products into Northern Ireland from areas within the EU is restricted because of the NI Protected Zone status in place against a range of pest and diseases. More details of what is allowed to be brought from where is available here.  DAERA inspectors at airports remain empowered to seize any materials deemed to be a potential risk to plant health at their discretion.

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