Since 22 July 2022, fees have been updated to align them with the frequency of checks set in the new GB focused risk-based inspection regime. Additionally, for consignments of plants for planting and cuttings, a flat rate fee will be applied for all imports checks (documentary, identity and physical) in England and Wales. This will be applied regardless of the intended use of the goods and is in line with the recent consultation on this matter. This does not apply for Scotland (see below for more details).
For more information on the import inspection fees in England & Wales please see the new Indicative Fees for Plant Health Import Inspections in England and Wales from 22 July 2022.
What are import fees?
When certain plants and plant products enter the UK, they undergo three types of checks: documentary, identity and physical checks. A documentary check entails the examination of official certifications, attestations and other commercial documents that are required to accompany the consignment. An identity check entails a visual inspection to verify that the contents of a consignment correspond with the information provided in the accompanying documentation. A physical check entails a check on the goods to verify that they are compliant with the phytosanitary import requirements of the country of destination. This includes, as appropriate, checks on the consignment’s packaging and means of transport. Sampling for laboratory testing or diagnosis may also be required, if this is the case a further fee will be applied.
These services incur costs, and it is UK government policy is to recover the costs of carrying out official checks to manage risks arising from commercial activity. This includes the costs of inspections to reduce risks to plant health from the trade in plants and plant produce.
In England and Wales, the charges are set out in the Plant Health etc. (Fees) (England) Regulations 2018 and the Plant Health etc. (Fees) (Wales) Regulations 2018 respectively. https://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2020/1527/schedule/10/made
The import inspection fees for goods imported from the EU into England and Wales are the same, but charges differ for Scotland. Please see below for additional information on import fees for Scotland. Import inspection fees are charged for imports of regulated goods from non-EU countries and for imports of high-priority plants and plant products from the EU.
Why are importers charged fees?
UK plant health services operate in-line with the principle of full cost recovery. Plant health fees are reviewed regularly and adjusted to ensure no under, or over, recovery of costs and amended as necessary.
How have import fees been calculated?
The level of inspection is based on the biosecurity risk posed by each commodity. The highest risk commodities are subject to 100% documentary, identity and physical checks. The level of identity and physical checks on other commodities is based on the risk presented by the import of different plants and goods from different origins. Fees are charged at a pro rata rate depending on inspection levels. In Scotland fees are also based on quantity/weight/commodity.
The fee level is also directly related to how long it takes inspectors to carry out the physical inspections. For example, a bulb inspection fee is higher than the fee for inspecting cuttings; this is because it takes longer to inspect.
How are import fees charged and paid?
Each consignment will receive a combined document, identity and physical inspection charge regardless of whether they are inspected. The methodology used to calculate the flat rate fee for plants for planting and cuttings was consulted on in 2022. The methodology used to calculate all other fees was fully consulted on in 2017 and has not changed. By charging fees on a blanket basis, the charges are dramatically reduced for the individual, rather than only charging those whose goods are inspected a much larger amount. This approach also provides businesses with certainty over the fees they will be charged, rather than landing them with a bill of a larger amount if their consignment is selected for inspection. This method of fee charging was agreed by trade in a 2017/2018 consultation.
Invoices will be sent to the importer stated on the Declaration Unique Consignment Reference (DUCR) or the Common Health Entry Document for Plants and Plant Products (CHED PP)application. Each invoice will be laid out per application, with lines referring to the physical inspections per commodity group, the identity check, the documentary check and, if a sample was take on suspicion of a pest and/or disease, a line will also appear on the invoice. If an importer has done multiple applications within a week of each other, these application charges will appear on the same invoice, but all will be itemised.
The description of each line will be made up of the commodity groups, the application number, the customer reference if entered onto the application, and the post code of where the inspection took place. There is a 240 character limit on each line so if the description suddenly stops it’s due to this reason. The invoice will be payable by bank transfer/BACS, over the phone via debit/credit card, or by cheque.
Fees for Scotland
In Scotland, a similar charging system applies; fees for EU goods are set out in the Plant Health (Import Inspection Fees) (Scotland) Regulations 2014 (as amended). Not all goods are subject to the fees laid out in the pages linked below. Businesses should refer to the legislation linked above for full details of the fees and the specific goods covered. The same methodology is used as in England and Wales; however, Scotland charges are based by total quantity/weight of consignments. All charges are rounded up to the nearest pound except for the additional quantity values which are rounded up to the nearest penny. For Scotland, the import fees will be aligned with the new inspection frequency rates based on existing charges.