UK Plant Passport Q&A
- General Plant Passport Information
- Attaching Plant Passports
- Registration and Authorisation to issue Plant Passports
- Content and Format of Plant Passports
- Requirements of Issuing Plant Passports
1. General Plant Passports Information
1.1 What is a UK Plant Passport (PP)?
A UK Plant Passport (PP) is an official label for the movement of regulated plants and plant products within Great Britain (GB) and between the Crown Dependencies and GB, and where applicable, into and within UK Pest Free Areas (PFAs). It demonstrates compliance with all plant health requirements for the relevant plant or plant product.
1.2 What is the purpose of a Plant Passport (PP)?
PPs ensure that plants and plant products are traced throughout the supply chain and declare compliance with plant health requirements such as freedom from pests, which is essential for maintaining biosecurity.
1.3 What is the difference between a Plant Passport and a Phytosanitary Certificate (PC)?
A Phytosanitary Certificate (PC) is a certificate meeting agreed international standards used for plant biosecurity purposes, and is necessary for most plants and plant products, including wood, wood products and isolated bark, being imported into the UK from third countries or exported from the UK to third countries, such as Canada, China or Australia. It is issued by the competent authority.
A PP is for internal movement within Great Britain (GB) and between the Crown Dependencies and GB, which provides both an attestation that the plant or wood products in question comply with plant health regulations and ensures traceability of regulated plant or wood products moved internally. It is issued by the authorised operator.
The list of plant and wood products that require a PP is different from the list of those that require a PC.
1.4 Who are the competent authorities?
The competent authorities are:
- England & Wales - Animal & Plant Health Agency (APHA)
- Scotland - Science and Advice for Scottish Agriculture (SASA)
- Northern Ireland - Department of Agriculture Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA)
For the forestry sector the competent authorities are
- England, Scotland & Wales - Forestry Commission
- Northern Ireland - DAERA
1.5 Why are all plants passported?
As all plants for planting are now passported this allows us to take a more proactive approach to plant health, instead of a reactive approach. Therefore in the future we will be able tackle pest threats to industry and the environment as they emerge.
We also continue to monitor for pests and diseases by continuing to stop pests and diseases before they arrive through international surveillance to spot new risks, taking action at the border with stringent biosecurity checks on plant imports, and by having robust contingency plans to tackle the pests and diseases.
1.6 I trade in lots of products, how do I know which ones require a Plant Passport (PP)?
The complete lists of plants and plant products which require a PP are on GOV.uk.
All plants for planting and some seeds and plant products require a PP.
The definition of ‘plant for planting’ is a plant which may:
- Remain planted
- Be planted or
- Be replanted.
This includes potted plants such as orchids and poinsettia.
1.7 Is a Plant Passport be required down to the final user? For example, if I sell plants to members of the public for their personal use, e.g. to plant in their own gardens, do I need to be authorised to issue them a Plant Passport?
In general you do not need to issue a PP to members of the public for their own personal use. Exemptions to this rule include if you are a distance seller e.g. selling via mail order or internet sales.
1.8 Do I need a Plant Passport for moving plants and plant products from one of my premises to another?
Yes, if you move regulated material between your own premises that are more than 10 miles apart. For journeys of over 10 miles you need to provide a PP to maintain traceability of that material.
If you are moving plant or plant products between the premises of the same registered operator within close proximity you are exempt from the requirement for a plant passport. Close proximity is defined as a radius of 10 miles.
1.9 If I am travelling to an exhibition or show, do I need to provide a Plant Passport for that movement?
If you are a professional operator supplying another professional operator a plant or plant product destined for a show or exhibition, you must supply them with a plant passport as you would in any other circumstance. The operator showing or exhibiting the plant would not need to passport the movement from their premises to the show/ exhibition itself.
However if the regulated plant is delivered by the supplier to the operator showing it, to the event itself, then a passport must be provided for that movement.
Furthermore if you are selling to other professional operators at the show or exhibition you must provide a PP for those sales as you would for any other sale between professional operators.
1.10 Does ‘plants for planting’ include turf or potted herbs?
1.11 Does ‘plants for planting’ include aquatic plants?
Yes, they are still considered plants for planting.
1.12 What seeds need a plant passport?
The seed species that require a plant passport can be found here on GOV.uk.
The new rules also apply to seed which may travel in small packets, and which require a plant passport and supplier’s label.
Further information on PPs and the Seeds Marketing Sector can be found on the Plant Passport page of the Plant Health Portal.
1.13 If gift planting to charity, would the plants for gifting need to have a passport label generated?
If you are a professional operator gifting the plant, a plant passport should be provided to the charity as they are a professional operator. They should also record for each plant passport they receive, who supplied them with that plant passport. That information should be stored by them for at least 3 years, and could be held physically or digitally.
1.14 I renovate gardens for tenants on behalf of a client. Would we only need to add the passport number to the invoice? Would the client need to apply separately as well?
It depends on the gardens you are renovating. In general, you will not need to issue a plant passport right down to the final user buying for their own private garden e.g. members of the public for their own personal use. Exemptions to this rule include if you are a distance seller e.g. selling via mail order or internet sales.
Supplying gardens of private tenants on behalf of a private landlord would not fall under plant passporting.
If the gardens you are renovating are run by a professional operator, e.g. a botanical garden or local council, you will need to provide plant passports to them. However as they are the final stage in the supply chain, a single plant passport could cover all the plants in a single movement. That professional operator would then need to record that you supplied them with a passport for those plants. A full plant passport should be provided, not just a ‘passport number’.
For any plant passports you do issue you must keep records of them and who you supplied them to for three years (this storage can be physical or digital). Furthermore, for each passport you receive you must be able to identify who supplied you with each plant passport.
1.15 When a plant arrives from a nursery, if it is going straight into the ground, would the passport need to be changed?
You will need to record who supplied you with each passport you receive and it must be stored for 3 years. It does not necessarily have to be added to any bills processed.
If you then move on the consignment in question and it fulfils all the below criteria, you do not need to be authorised to issue your own plant passport as it can move on under its existing passport:
- It is not split down into new units and sent to different locations
- The characteristics of the plants do not change, i.e. you do not grow them on or repot them
- The plants remain pest and disease free
- The traceability for the plants or plant products is maintained
If it does not meet these criteria, you will need to issue your own new passports and be authorised to do so.
For example, if you grow the plants on you will need to issue a new plant passport when they are moved again (unless they are moved to another of your own premises that is within 10 miles of the premises where you are moving them from).
Plants are ‘grown-on’ if they have been any of the following:
- potted, re-potted, grafted or rooted
- in active growth under protection for at least 2 weeks
- in active growth outside for at least 4 weeks
- subject to high risk of infestation by a quarantine organism, for example grown-on a premises subject to statutory notice (legal notice regarding non-compliance or pest outbreak)
1.16 Will PPs be needed down to individual consumers?
Only if you are selling through means of distance contracts, for example selling online, in magazines, or over the phone.
Otherwise as long as that consumer is not using the plants in question for professional purposes and is only purchasing them for personal use, a PP is not required to individual consumers.
1.17 If a regulated plant or plant product in the supply chain is at some point destined for a final user who is acquiring plants or plant products for personal use, do I need to passport that plant or plant product?
Yes. Plants and plant products destined for the final user still need to be passported.
It is only the final stage of the supply chain, where the regulated plant or plant product is sold to the final user who is acquiring them for personal use, where a PP is not usually required.
If you are supplying another business (e.g. a retailer) you will have to provide PPs even if those plants are destined for a final user who will acquire them for personal use.
2. Attaching Plant Passports
2.1 What do I attach a Plant Passport to?
The PP must be attached to the smallest tradeable unit at the marketing stage concerned. What is most important is that for the units you passport, you maintain traceability for all of the commodities within that unit.
For example if you move the same commodity, from the same origin and from the same similar (homogenous) lot on a unit such as pallets, trolleys, trays, or in bags, then a single PP can be attached to that unit e.g. the pallet, trolley, tray or bag.
If however you sell multiple commodities on the same unit e.g. pallets or trolleys then that the PP must then be attached as either:
- A separate PP on each commodity on that pallet, trolley etc., for example if you have a trolley with many trays on it, and a different species on each tray, the passport should be attached to the tray, rather than the whole trolley.
- Where the unit is going direct to retail without any modification before it reaches the retailer, a single PP can be attached to that unit, e.g. a pallet or trolley, and that PP can cover all the plants and plant products in that unit.
- Furthermore if you supply landscapers or gardeners, e.g. as a cash and carry business, who only supply private gardens, then you only need to supply them with a single PP to cover all the goods they purchase. This is because, like a trolley going direct to retail, this would be the final stage in the supply chain before the final user.
In many cases passports on every pot would not be necessary, as these would generally sold to final users. A final user is a person who is acquiring plants for personal use and for purposes which are outside that person’s trade, business or profession. However, businesses may passport every individual pot if they wish to.
Regarding mixed consignments, where there is multiple species in a single unit, multiple species can be listed on a single plant passport, e.g. hanging baskets.
2.2 Do I need to passport every single plant?
The passport must be attached to the smallest trade unit at the applicable stage on the supply chain. Therefore if you have multiple plants of the same commodity on a pallet, in bundles, boxes, bags or multiple pots in a tray, the passport can be attached to that pallet, bundle, bag or tray.
If you are selling individual plants to another professional operator, for example a single tree to a landscaper, then that single plant would require a plant passport.
However in most cases passports are not required to be attached to each pot. For example if you supply boxes of plants with multiple species in to a retailer, the passport can be attached to that box.
You can if you choose to, place passports on every individual pot.
2.3 Can a plant passport go on a trolley?
A plant passport can go on a single trolley at any point in the supply chain if the plant or plant products are homogenous and meet all of the following criteria:
- From the same supplier;
- Of the same species or combination of species (e.g. if there are pots with the same plant species in them);
- In the same format;
- Going to the same place; and
- Be contained & be sold as that unit
A single Plant Passport could be attached to that unit to provide assurance and traceability.
It should be noted that multiple plant species can go on a single PP, for example if there are multiple species in a single pot or hanging basket.
If the plants or plant products on each shelf of a trolley meet the above 5 criteria, then a single PP can cover a single shelf of the trolley.
2.4 What about trolleys with many species on them?
A PP can be attached to a trolley of a mix of species, even when those species are in separate pots or other units (e.g. trays or boxes), only if that trolley is going directly to retail. In such cases the PP must be attached to the trolley, and not travel in the cab with the delivery driver.
2.5 Can I attach the Plant Passport to a grower’s pot, which goes inside a ceramic or decorative pot?
Yes as long as the PP can still be easily found.
2.6 What if I make hanging baskets, do I have to put all the plants on the passport?
Yes. All the botanical names should be listed on the Plant Passport.
2.7 What are my obligations regarding traceability?
If you are issuing a plant passport then you must record:
(a) where applicable, the professional operator who supplied the trade unit concerned;
(b) the professional operator to whom the trade unit concerned was supplied; and
(c) relevant information relating to the plant passport.
If you are supplying a plant passport that you did not issue then you must keep your own record of who you supplied it to and who you received it from.
If you receive a plant passport you must know for each passported unit that you receive, the professional operator who supplied you with that unit.
This applies to the entire supply chain, therefore retailers, even if they do not issue plant passports, will need to be registered with the competent authority and keep a record allowing them to identify, for each trade unit of plant, plant product or other object supplied, the professional operators who supplied it.
How you record the PP is your decision, they can be kept physically or digitally. Furthermore it is information within the passport that must be recorded, the information you record does not have to be facsimile of the PP.
All such records must be kept for 3 years and be available to competent authorities as maybe requested.
2.8. Can I attach more than one PP to each unit?
There should be a single PP for each unit, with all the plant species listed on that PP.
2.9 Why do I have to attach a passport if I am selling online?
Under Plant Health Regulations (PHR) anyone distance selling (this includes but is not limited to selling online, over the phone or through mail order) will have to provide a PP down to the final user, even if that final user is buying for personal use.
This is part of the PHR’s aim to take a more proactive approach to plant health rather than a reactive approach, as distance sales account for an increasing proportion of trade in plants and plant products.
As operators authorised to issue PPs must meet a minimum standard of plant health in order to issue PPs and trade, this means that all retailers selling online or through other forms of distance selling must meet plant health requirements. This will help in protecting the entire supply chain and the environment from plant pests and diseases in the future.
2.10 Why do I have to attach labels to units, why can’t I attach them to an invoice or delivery advice note (DAN)? What is the biosecurity value?
The attachment of PPs to the trade units themselves (e.g. pots, boxes etc.), rather than invoices or DANs, is to ensure better traceability of plants and plant products in the case of a pest outbreak, especially if a passport is attached to each pot or care label so that information is available immediately in the case of an infected plant.
PPs must be recorded by anyone issuing a PP. Anyone who receives a PP must be able to trace for each passported unit they received, who supplied them with that unit. If you sent a passported unit to another professional operator you would have to be able to record for each unit you supplied, who you supplied it to.
PPs may also be recorded on invoices or DANs in addition to being attached to the relevant trade unit.
3. Registration and Authorisation to issue Plant Passports
3.1 Do I need to become authorised in order to issue PPs?
Yes, you must become authorised to issue PPs.
3.2 How do I become authorised to issue PPs?
In order to become authorised to issue PPs In England & Wales of non-Forestry products you must apply for authorisation from APHA.
For further details visit:
Complete both the Application and Authorisation forms and email to email@example.com
Your application for registration and authorisation to issue plant passports will be processed and confirmation of registration and a letter of authority to issue plant passports will be emailed back to you within 5 working days. Please allow sufficient time to become registered and authorised.
You will then be audited to ensure you are compliant with the regulations.
- interview you or the person responsible for plant passports at your site
- audit your records
- inspect host plants and if necessary sample them to make sure they’re free at that point from pests or diseases that could make trading in the EU a plant health risk
- give you or the person responsible an update on the latest plant quarantine pest and disease risks
Follow up discussion, or possible revisits may also be arranged as felt appropriate.
Annually your authorisation will be reviewed by the competent authority to ensure it is considered appropriate and this includes your ability to authorise to trade plants as being free of regulated organisms.
- For Scotland, check with SASA (Science and Advice for Scottish Agriculture).
- You must follow Forestry Commission guidance if you’re a GB-trader in wood, wood products or isolated bark.
- For Northern Ireland, check with DAERA (Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs).
3.3 As we run Horticulture on behalf of a client instructed by them would they need to register?
Both operators would need to be registered. If you are issuing the plant passports you should be authorised to do so.
It should be the operator that has physical sight of the plants that should be issuing PPs.
3.4 Can an old plant passport authorisation be reopened to save another application?
It depends on when you were authorised as it may be that your authorisation is still active. It is advised you ask your local inspector, or enquire through the email below: firstname.lastname@example.org
3.5 When do I need to be registered to be authorised to issue PPs?
You only need to be registered and authorised as a professional operator from the date that you need to commence issuing plant passports. Please allow at least 2 weeks to become registered and authorised. For queries regarding registration and authorisation please email: email@example.com
3.6 What requirements must I meet to become authorised?
To issue PPs a professional operator must be based in Great Britain with a GB address where goods are delivered and be able to demonstrate to the competent authority (such as APHA or the Forestry Commission) that they:
- Have a person responsible based on site and with GB contact details.
- Have knowledge of pest biology, best practice in pest prevention and eradication planning and ways to take these forward if regulated pests are encountered at authorised premises.
- Have trained staff who are responsible for carrying out inspections of plant or wood products that must have a PP when moved within the EU.
- Have systems and procedures in place to fulfil obligations regarding traceability of consignments and to keep appropriate records for 3 years.
This will be assessed as part of the application and authorisation process.
3.7 If I am part of a co-operative, do I need to become authorised, or can the co-operative as a whole become authorised?
The co-operative as a whole can be registered and authorised to issue PPs as a single entity, as long as the co-operative is a legally recognised entity, not an informal arrangement.
3.8 I am a retailer who sells plants, do I need to become authorised to issue plant passports?
If PPs are attached to the appropriate trade units down to the individual stores by your suppliers then you do not need to become authorised to issue your own PPs. For example if you receive plants to individual stores in boxes and the passports are attached to those boxes then you do not need to issue any of your own PPs.
If you split down consignments which are then moved to a different premises, by dividing a trade unit with a passport on it into two or more new units, you need to be authorised to issue new plant passports for those units.
Passports must be provided down to retail stores, not just down to distribution centres.
3.9 Can one plant passport authorisation number cover the whole company and all sites?
A single plant passport authorisation can cover an entire company, the site address would suffice.
If you are a retailer, the head office can be registered and (if applicable) authorised on behalf of all its retail outlets.
However you should make APHA aware of all sites where you intend to issue Plant Passports during your authorisation process.
3.10 What are the costs of applying for authorisation?
Details on inspection and renewal fees can be found on GOV.uk.
3.11 Can I just provide PPs to the distribution centre?
No. PPs must be provided for units travelling down to individual stores. If PPs are attached to the units travelling to stores e.g. they are attached to boxes going to individual stores, then no new PP needs to be issued and the box can travel from the distribution centre to the store with that PP.
If the units are split down, e.g. plants are taken from a trolley and packed into boxes to go to stores, then new PPs would have to be issued for those boxes.
3.12 Where can I find a list of operators authorised to issue PPs?
There is no publicly available list, please contact those in your supply chain to see if they are authorised.
4. Content and format of Plant Passports
4.1 What must the PP contain? What should it look like?
The content and format of the new PP is available on GOV.uk.
Downloadable Templates are available on the Plant Health Portal.
The PP must be information and content must be distinct and separate from other information on any label.
4.2 If the plant’s botanical name is elsewhere on the consignment, do I need to put it on the PP?
Yes, the botanical name must be included on the PP.
The full botanical name, including genus and species should be used, with variety name being optional. If the species name is not known, a genus name alone would be acceptable.
4.3 What traceability code can I use?
The traceability code of the plant, plant product (or wood and/or wood product) or the other object concerned can be an existing code used to trace a consignment. It must provide traceability for all the regulated commodities within the relevant trade unit back to the authorised operator that issued the PP with that traceability code, for example a batch number.
4.4 In what cases is a traceability code not needed?
Plants and plant products which are prepared in such a way that they are ready for the sale to final users without any further preparation and present no risk concerning the spread of quarantine pests do not need a traceability code.
4.5 When does the ‘Country of Origin’ change?
We will maintain the current guidance on country of origin and when it changes. However this may be reviewed for certain plant products to take into account emerging pest threats.
If a plant has been ‘grown on’ in the UK then its country of origin may be considered to be the UK.
Nurseries must consider their plants to have been grown on if they have been:
i) Potted, re-potted, grafted or rooted or
ii) In active growth under protection for at least two weeks, or
iii) In active growth outside for at least four weeks, or
iv) Subject to high risk of infestation by a quarantine organism (e.g. grown on a premises subject to statutory Notice).
Our guidance changed on 1st January 2021 for the following list of commodities:
Hosts of Xylella fastidiosa:
- Plants, other than fruit or seeds of Olea europaea (olive), Coffea (coffee), Polygala myrtifolia, Prunus dulcis (almond)
- Plants, other than seeds, intended for planting, of Lavandula sp. (lavender), Nerium oleander, Rosmarinus officinalis (rosemary).
Hosts of Ceratocystis platani (Canker Stain of plane):
- Plants of Platanus L., intended for planting, other than seeds.
The change means that these commodities must have been in the UK for a whole year following their import before a PP issued for their movement can list ‘GB’ as the country of origin. This applies regardless of whether they have been grown under protection or not in the UK. Therefore, you must keep records of importation date and other details to then amend the country of origin to GB twelve months after importation.
You can still market your plants for the first year after import, however during that first year they should only travel on a PP with the original country of origin listed in Part D, rather than ‘GB’.
4.6 Can there be multiple species on a single PP?
Yes, as long as the plants, plant products or other objects listed are large enough in font to be legible.
In the case of plants and plant products:
- The botanical name(s) of the plant(s) species or taxon(s) concerned should be used, and
- Optionally, the name of the variety
4.7 What is the country code for the UK?
The correct country code for the UK, including Northern Ireland, is GB.
4.8 Can I produce or use a PP template and then write in the details by hand?
Yes, but if you handwrite details in a plant passport they must be in capitals and be legible. They must also be written in so they will not be washed off or changed.
5. Requirements for issuing of PPs
5.1 How often do I require inspections?
The regulations require inspection at least once per year however, certain plant or wood products may require more than this. Certain plant or wood products may also require inspections at defined times of the year, such as during the growing season.
For further information contact your local inspector or email: PlantHealth.Info@apha.gov.uk.
5.2 Is there an exception for plants supplied directly to retail?
No. Under the PHR there is no exception for plants supplied directly to retail.
5.3 How long must I store a PP for?
If you have issued a plant passport you must record (and keep for 3 years):
- if you have been supplied with a plant passport, the professional operator who supplied the trade unit concerned
- the professional operator to whom the trade unit concerned was supplied
- the information within the plant passport (this does not have to be a physical copy of the plant passport or an exact digital copy of the plant passport)
If you are a professional operator that has received a plant passport you must:
- insist that your supplier provides any passports that are missing - if they refuse to do this, contact APHA to report them
- record who supplied you with any passport you receive
- If you are a professional operator that has supplied a plant passport you must record who you supplied that plant passport to.
A professional operator is any person involved professionally in, and legally responsible for, one or more of the following activities concerning plants or wood:
- production, including growing, multiplying and maintaining
- introduction into, and movement within and out of, the EU
- making available on the market
- storage, collection, dispatching and processing
5.4 Can I store the PP digitally?
Yes. You can store it physically or digitally.
5.5 When do I need to re-issue a PP?
When a commodity is split down, for example from a pallet of regulated material, to multiple bundles, then a PP will have to be re-issued for the new, smaller trade unit(s) (in this case the bundles).
The PP must also be replaced, a meticulous examination of the product(s) carried out, and a new PP issued if the plants or plant products in question no longer fulfil all of the following:
- Traceability requirements, i.e. the supplier of the plant or plant products is recorded
- Substantive requirements, i.e. they meet the requirements for a PP to be issued around freedom from pest and disease,
- The characteristics of the plants or plant products have not changed.
If you have replaced a PP, you must keep a record of the original, replaced PP for a minimum of three years for traceability purposes
5.6 Not for profit operators and issuing of PPs
Not-for-Profit operators may have just one site audited for passporting purposes (you should be prepared to prove you are a not for profit, for example by being a registered charity).
However, there are some important caveats to this policy.
- PPs should only be issued by trained personnel based at the site which is audited
- An authorised operator is still obliged to send us details of all their sites as part of their registration process (so we will have sight of all their sites if there is a plant health issue).