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New imports timeline Q&A

Q&A: IMPORTS OF PLANTS AND PLANT PRODUCTSFROM THE EU TO GB 

 

Published: 12/03/2021 

 

Why have the EU imports phasing timings been changed? 

Throughout the pandemic, we have consistently reviewed how we can support businesses. As we come out of the current lockdown, we are doing everything we can to help businesses get back on their feet as soon as possible and avoid any unnecessary risks to our recovery. We are therefore delaying the introduction of some controls to give businesses more space and time to focus on their immediate needs. 

 

Does this delay to import SPS checks mean that the UK’s high biosecurity standards will be compromised? 

The agreement reached with the EU means the UK and EU have very similar plant health measures, now the transition period has ended. Moving forward, we are committed to maintaining high biosecurity, food safety and animal welfare standards. This includes the introduction of the staged SPS controls.   

We already have controls in place on high-priority plants and plant products, and checks on these goods will continue to be carried out at places of destination.   

There are no biosecurity risks from delay (since EU standards are substantially aligned with our own).   

 

Do high-priority plants and plant products still need to be checked at BCPs from July? 

Physical and identity checks of high-priority plants and plant products will move from Places of Destination (PoDs) to BCPs from January 2022 

 

What plant health controls will now be in place for EU material imported into GB following the border controls announcement? 

Since 1 January 2021, there has been the requirement for pre-notification and phytosanitary certificates (PCs) for plants and plant products that pose the greatest potential risk to GB biosecurity and which were already subject to regulation within the EU. They are subject to import checks away from the border at places of destination (PoDs), until January 2022 when checks will move to Border Control Posts (BCPs). 

We are describing this list of plants and plant products as ‘high-priority’ since as noted, they pose the greatest potential risk to GB biosecurity. The list on gov.ukincludes all those plants and plant products which were previously within scope of the EU plant passport regime, plus a small number of others which are otherwise subject to regulation. 

From January 2022, the requirement for pre-notification and PCs will be extended to include all regulated plants and plant products (i.e. not just those that which are ‘high-priority’).  A list of goods that will require pre-notification is available here. 

From March 2022, an increased number of physical checks will be carried out on regulated plants and plant products occurring at BCPs.    

 

What changes for me now due to the changein phasing timing? 

There are no immediate changes to the plants and plant product import process.  

The first change to be aware of is that from January 2022, high-priority plants and plant products will be checked at BCPs rather than PoDs. Until this point, all necessary checks will continue to take place at PoDs.  

The plant health requirements for all other regulated goods (i.e. not just those that are high- priority), such as PCs and pre-notification for some, will start from 1 January 2022, rather than 1 April 2021. A list of goods that will require pre-notification from January 2022 is available here. 

 

Is the introduction of import fees also going to be changed to a later date? 

Fees will be applied for documentary, identity, and physical checks on EU imports, as is the case for imports from non-EU third countries now.  

DEFRA have taken the decision to delay the introduction of inspection fees for imports of ‘high-priority’ plants and plant products until 1 June 2021 in England and Wales. This gives businesses time to adjust to the new fee arrangements and enables them to factor it in to financial planning for next year. A full list of ‘high-priority’ plants and plant products can be found at gov.uk. 

Fees for importing high priority plant and plant products from the EU will apply from 1 June 2021. 

 

When are BCPs going to be operational for certain plants and plant products? 

From 1 January 2022Border Control Posts will be used to check high-priority plants and plant products. High-priority plants and plant products will continue to be checked at PoDs until then.  

From January 2022, all regulated plants and plant products will undergo remote documentary checks. 

From March 2022, all checks on regulated plant and plant products will take place at BCPs, including cut flowers and fresh produce. 

 

Will plants and plant products from the EU need to be pre-notified? 

 Since 1 January 2021, all ‘high-priority’ plants and plant products require a phytosanitary certificate and pre-notification via PEACH. A full list of ‘high-priority’ plants and plant products can be found at gov.uk. 

The way you submit import pre-notifications and applications online will change from Spring 2021. There will be a phased transition period to the new systems, starting from Spring 2021 to allow time for business to familiarise themselves with the new services.  

From January 2022, all regulated goods (i.e. not just those that are high-priority) will require a phytosanitary certificate when entering GB from the EU. Some of these goods will also require pre-notification via the relevant IT system. A list of goods that will require pre-notification is available here. 

From March 2022, all regulated goods are required to have a phytosanitary certificate and pre-notification via the relevant IT system.  

Pre-notification will need to be provided to the relevant authorities before it reaches the border in GB, at least 4 hours for Roll-On Roll-Off Freight, and at least one working day for all other freight. 

As part of the pre-notification, importers need to provide scanned copies of relevant documents, including the PC. They then need to send the original copy of the PC to the relevant authority within 3 days of landing, or as soon as feasibly possible. In England and Wales this is APHA for plants and products, Forestry Commission for the forestry sector, and SASA in Scotland. 

 

What plants IT system is being used to pre-notify for imports of plants and plant products in England and Wales? 

Since 1 January 2021, notifications need to be submitted onto PEACH and continue to until you are directed to change to the new service. Further information on how to register for PEACH can be found at gov.uk. 

The new plant health IT import system will be available for traders to register and use from Spring 2021, giving users plenty of time to familiarise themselves with the new system before the further introduction of notifications and checks. 

 

What are the details/requirements regarding pre-notification of arrival of imports? 

Since 1 January 2021, importers must submit pre-notification for all ‘high-priority’ plants and plant products via PEACH. A full list of ‘high-priority’ plants and plant products is available at gov.uk. 

From January 2022, importers must submit pre-notification for some regulated plants and plant products, not just those categorised as ‘high-priority’, via the relevant IT system. A list of goods that will require pre-notification is available here. 

From March 2022, the UK’s Border Operating Model will be fully operationalised with physical and identity checks on all regulated plants and plant products being carried out at BCPs. 

 

Is PEACH being replaced by a new service for pre-notifications of plant health imports? 

In Spring 2021 the IT systems used to facilitate the pre-notification of imports of plants and plant products will be changing, moving from the current PEACH system to a new service building on IPAFFS technology.  

However, you should continue to use the existing system until you are directed to register and use the new service. The timing and sequencing of this migration will ensure a smooth and orderly transfer between systems and will allow sufficient time for you to become familiar with the new service. We will be providing comprehensive training and support before during and after migration. 

The new systems will be available for traders to register and use from Spring 2021, giving users plenty of time to familiarise themselves with the new systems before the further introduction of notifications and checks. 

 

Does the extension to the phasing effect the new IT systems roll out at all? 

Despite the extension to timelines for the introduction of the next phase of plants and plant products imports from EU to GB, the development of the new Plants IT systems remains on track for delivery later this year. The extension will not impact the timeline for development, delivery and rollout. 

The new systems will be available for traders to register and use from Spring 2021, giving users plenty of time to familiarise themselves with the new systems before the further introduction of notifications and checks. 

 

Why do British businesses have to comply with EU SPS rules and bear the associated costs exporting goods to the EU but EU businesses don’t have to do the same when sending goods to the GB?  

We knew that preparing for full import border checks outside the EU’s single market and customs union would be challenging, particularly at a time when businesses - especially those working in key sectors - were already having to manage the impact of Covid-19.   

That is why last June we took a pragmatic decision to give businesses more time to prepare, announcing we would stage the introduction of our new border requirements throughout 2021 - with full import controls only coming into force in July 2021. The EU did not choose to do the same and exporters had to be ready by 1 January 2021.  

We will do whatever it takes to support businesses through the Coronavirus crisis, and we want to make our border processes more effective and efficient. Our decision to delay import controls means we can help businesses and improve our systems.