Plant Health Guide: guidance for importers

The guide summarises the plant health controls which apply to the import into Scotland of plants, seeds, plant products, plant pests, soil and growing medium from countries outside the European Union.


40. Importers should be aware that they may need to comply with obligations imposed by other legislation. The requirements most likely to be encountered are summarised below, but this list is not exhaustive. Importers should satisfy themselves that they have obtained all necessary approvals in advance of import (see Appendix B for contact addresses).

CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of wild fauna and flora)

41. CITES aims to protect certain plant and animal species by regulating and monitoring their international trade and to prevent this trade reaching unsustainable levels. There are restrictions and prohibitions on imports of many plant species that are endangered. A licensing system operates to allow trade in certain CITES specimens. Further information is available from Defra, the UK CITES Management Authority, and can be viewed on line at:

Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981

42. Whilst some non-native species may be imported into Great Britain, their release into the wild is prohibited by the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. It is also an offence to release any non-native animal, or to allow one to escape into the wild. This includes invertebrates. The impact of non-native plant and animal species, and the possible requirement for additional controls, is currently being examined by Government in co-operation with a wide range of interested parties. In addition the possession and sale of native plants is an offence in certain circumstances if the specimens have been taken from the wild. Further information on conservation issues, the use of specimens taken from the wild and the release of non-native species can be obtained from the Scottish Government's Landscapes & Habitats Division (contact details are at Appendix B ).

Genetically modified organisms ( GMOs)

43. Although not a condition of import, all first-time use of premises involving activities with GMOs in containment (for example, culturing storage, transporting, destruction, disposal of or use in any other way) must be notified to the Health and Safety Executive ( HSE), as must all class 2, 3 and 4 activities involving the genetic modification of micro-organisms. In addition, contained use activities involving GMOs must be notified to HSE where the GM plant poses a greater risk to human health than its unmodified parental organism. HSE is acting in this respect on behalf of the joint competent authority with the Scottish Government under the Genetically Modified Organisms (Contained Use) Regulations. Similarly, release of GMOs into the environment must be approved by Scottish Government under the Genetically Modified Organisms (Deliberate Release) Regulations 2002. It is advisable to obtain these approvals before importing GMOs. Further information is available from HSE (Contained use) or CAP Reform and Crop Policy Team (see Appendix B for contact address).

EU marketing requirements for seeds

44. In addition to some seed imports requiring a phytosanitary certificate (see Section III) there are other requirements which may apply for imported seed. See Part II of A guide to seed imports from other Member States and third countries:

EC marketing standards for fruit and vegetables

45. The HMU Officers are responsible for the enforcement of the EC Marketing Standards for fresh fruit and vegetables throughout the marketing chain from point of import or production, through the wholesale and distributive sectors to the final point of retail sale. Further information on marking and quality requirements is available from HMU (see Appendix B for contact details).

Tariff classification

46. This is the responsibility of the importer or exporter. However, in case of difficulty, enquirers should contact the HMRC Tariff Classification helpline (01702 366077) - available from 09.00 to 17.00 Monday to Thursday and from 09.00 to 16.30 on Friday. Information is also available on the HMRC website at:

Import duties, CAP levies and charges for goods imported from non- EU countries

47. Details of these may be obtained from the HMRC National Advice Service (0845 010 9000) also available Monday to Friday from 08:00 to 20:00 hours. Information on other requirements which may apply can be found on the Rural Payments Agency web site at:

Wood pallets / Crates / Packing / Dunnage

48. Controls are in place to prevent the introduction of pests and diseases on wooden packing materials. For further details see:

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