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Question and Answer guide for the Animal and Plant Health Agencies (APHA) Operational Hours

Question and Answer guide for the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) Operational Hours

What are APHA’s operational hours?
APHA can inspect consignments at registered places of destination (PoDs) 7 days a week, 7am to 7pm. For more information on contact details and operational hours, please visit
What are the Forestry Commission’s operational hours?
The Forestry Commission’s standard working days are Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm. For more information on contact details and operational hours, please visit
What are the pre-notification requirements in order for a Service Level Agreement to apply?
You must give advance notice to the responsible authority each time you bring a regulated consignment to GB. You need to give notice via PEACH of:

  • at least 4 working hours before the goods land in GB, for air and ‘roll-on-roll-off’ freight
  • at least 1 working day before the goods arrive in GB for all other freight 

You should aim to provide as much pre-notification as you are able to in order to receive a decision on whether a physical check will be required as soon as possible. You must give an accurate time for inspection.
Please note, these are working hours and any pre-notifications raised outside of 7am-7pm will not be processed until working hours commence.
What if my consignment arrives at a Place of Destination (PoD) outside of working hours?
APHA and the Forestry Commission can only inspect your consignments during working hours. If goods arrive outside of the working hours, then APHA and the Forestry Commission may hold goods overnight until they can be physically inspected. If they arrive on a Friday out of hours they may be held until the following Monday.

If for example, your high-priority goods arrive at a PoD at 9pm, they won’t be released until 11am-12am the following day as Plant Health and Seed Inspectors (PHSI) will not be present to inspect your goods until 7am the following day during working hours.
How long does it take for APHA to inspect consignments?
APHA will aim to inspect your consignment within 4 working hours of the time the importer gave for inspection in their pre-notification. If APHA are unable to inspect the goods within 4 working hours, they will release the goods, except in some limited cases such as where they identify a risk with a specific consignment. APHA have been providing a flexible approach to operations where possible since 1 January 2021.
How long does it take for the Forestry Commission take to inspect consignments?
The Forestry Commission will continue to provide the standard 3-day turnaround regardless of freight type. Forestry Commission will aim to tell businesses if their goods had been selected for inspection before the end of our 3 day turnaround period.
Is there enough inspector resource to do physical checks at PoDs? 
A number of recruitment campaigns have been conducted to ensure that adequate resource is in place to conduct official inspections at place of destination ahead of and throughout 2021. In addition, physical checks on high-priority plants are being conducted on a risk basis, therefore not every high-priority commodity is subject to 100% physical inspections. Please see the plant health portal for more details.
Who can I call to check when an inspector is likely to arrive at my site?
Upon submitting your pre-notification for the EU high-priority goods, you will be notified whether your goods have been selected for physical inspection on the PEACH system. Please ensure the inspection details you supply in your pre-notification are accurate, so that delivery teams can resource your required inspection effectively.

If you have any questions regarding the import of your goods:

  • For plants and products inspected by APHA, please call the dedicated imports helpdesk at 0300 100 0313 (available between 07.00 until 23.59), or you can email the PHSI Importers helpdesk mailbox 
  • For wood and timber products inspected by the Forestry Commission, please call the Cross Border Plant Health Service on 0300 067 5155, or alternatively email 

How come an inspector has contacted me to arrange an inspection when the PEACH dashboard shows a green light? 

A greenlight will appear in PEACH when the goods can be moved, but this is only applicable for the commodity type a green ball appears against.
If a red ball appears aside a particular commodity, for example a Xylella host, then that one commodity will need to be put aside for inspection. If this happens the inspector should get in contact with you to arrange the inspection. 
The other commodities with green balls next to them can be moved forwards without inspection. Please visit the PEACH user guide for further information.

I haven’t pre-notified my goods in PEACH prior to their arrival at a PoD, what do I do?
It is your legal obligation to notify your consignments in PEACH. Failure to correctly pre-notify may result in consignments being held at the PoDs until the requirement is met could result in consignments being destroyed.  
What will happen if I move my goods onwards from the PoD before the plant health inspection has taken place?
If you move your goods away from the place of destination premises as supplied on your import notification, prior to the required official plant health control, this will be classed as a non-compliance. The plant health authority may issue you a notice of statutory action requiring you to move the goods back to the PoD, or other appropriate remedial action depending on the type/volume of goods. 

If consignments are flagged for inspection, does a member of staff have to wait with the goods before the inspector arrives?

A member of staff does not need to wait with the consignment before the inspector arrives. However, a member of staff must be available upon the inspector arriving to make sure the goods are presented effectively, to guide the inspector to the inspection point and remain available until the inspection has been completed.

What we are trying to achieve is the right balance between biosecurity and ease of trade. We may ask you to hold consignments securely overnight and into the next day if we have a particular interest in carrying out a physical inspection. The inspector would be able to call and book in for the next day.
My goods have arrived at a PoD am I able to water or move my plants?
Regarding watering to keep plants healthy and not damage the products, this is fine, provided the below points regarding the consignments are reasonably fulfilled:
The operator should make sure that during transport to, and storage at, the place of destination, the consignment is not tampered with or subject to any alteration or change of packaging, and closed and sealed properly to reduce the risk of pest infestation and contamination as reasonably possible.


For more detailed information on facilities and registration please visit the Plant Health Portal PoDs question and answer guide.