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BETA Your feedback will help us improve the UK Plant Health Information Portal


Updated 11/06/24


General IPAFFS Queries

1. Do I need to create a new government gateway account for IPAFFS?

No– if you have an existing government gateway account you can select the option ‘register for other services' and then select 'IPAFFS' when going through the IPAFFS Registration steps.

If you do not have an existing government gateway account, then yes - you do need to register for IPAFFS and create a new government gateway account as part of the registration steps.

Government gateway accounts are set up per person, not organisation. We suggest if you already have a personal Govt Gateway ID (for tax for example), if you need a Govt Gateway for your business, you create a new Govt Gateway account.  

2. Where can I find guidance materials for IPAFFS?

All supporting guidance documentation and videos for IPAFFs is available on the Plant Health Portal: 
IPAFFS - UK Plant Health Information Portal (defra.gov.uk)

A recording of the IPAFFS Introductory webinar is also available on YouTube: IPAFFS Webinar

3. Who can I contact if I have any issues with my import and what are their working hours? 

You can contact the Centre for International Trade [CIT] by phoning the Imports Helpdesk on: 0300 1000 313 or contacting them by email on: phsi-importers@apha.gov.uk        

Their opening hours are 6am-12am every day.

4. When will e-Phyto be available?

ePhyto is available on IPAFFS now, you can use the function by selecting ‘Clone a Certificate’ on your dashboard. However, the cloning element is not currently available as we are still developing the cloning solution for ePhyto.

5. Which companies can register for and use IPAFFS?

Only UK registered (and based within the UK) companies. It is not possible for a trader or agent, not based in the UK, to register and use IPAFFS. 

6. How do I register as a CP (Control Point)?

Please see guidance on this issue here: CP Leaflet (defra.gov.uk) and here: CP Guidance - UK Plant Health Information Portal (defra.gov.uk)

7. Who can register to be a Control Point (CP)?

Anyone can register to be a CP, but there are requirements that need to be met both for Defra and HMRC, and would need to be a business decision as to whether it is a viable option.

8. What is the difference between the country of origin and the country from where the goods are consigned from?

The country of origin is the country that issued the phytosanitary certificate. The country from where goods were consigned from is the country of export.

9. Where can we find the full list of goods to be declared in English (and not in Latin?)

Look up commodity codes, import duties, taxes and controls for plants and plant products on GOV.UK.

10. Will IPAFFS cost us more money?  

No. Fees and charges that apply currently apply going forward, and a consultation is currently going forward around a common user charge, with details to follow. 

11. Do we still have to match the customs notification with DUCR codes?

No, DUCR codes are not required on IPAFFS. CDS and IPAFFS will be linked through the CHED reference, Commodity Codes, and the Net Weight declared.

12. Do we have to communicate the CHED-PP number to the agent/courier making the customs declaration?

Yes, if you are completing the IPAFFS entry and a Customs agent is completing the CDS declaration you will need to make sure that the commodity codes, the net weight of the commodities, and the CHED-PP number are exactly the same.

13. Many of my imports come in via DHL. My consignment can sit at the airport for days with nothing happening even if I complete IPAFFS, why is this?

Small parcels go to parcel depots and may be held until an inspector looks at the consignment. Parcel depots will be liable to operational delays outside of APHAs/DEFRA control. 

If your import has landed earlier than you declared on IPAFFS (time of arrival) you will need to alert us of an early arrival. You can do this on your IPAFFS Dashboard by clicking on the ‘View Details’ link, and then clicking ‘alert of early arrival.’

14. What happens to our consignment if we do not declare early arrival on IPAFFS?

The consignment will stay at the BCP/CP until it’s original arrival date, at which point it will be inspected.

15. How long should the process take from arrival to release?

This depends on the commodities you are importing and whether they are selected for inspection. Inspectors at the border must inspect goods within 4 hours of them arriving.

16. We travel for scientific purposes and frequently hand carry material back with us.  What do I do if I am moving goods with a scientific licence?

Please refer to this page for alternative procedures: Moving specified plants, plant pests, pathogens and soil - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)  

17. Do we still need to pre-notify on IPAFFS if we are shipping bulbs directly to clients in the post? (Personal Imports).

Yes, you will still need to pre-notify on IPAFFS. This depends on the company you are using, as most courier companies will pre-notify on IPAFFS on behalf of the importer, but postal companies do not.


Questions for and about Agents

1. Can I use an agent to submit notifications on my behalf?

Yes – You can link an agent account to a trader account by selecting ‘Manage Trade Partners’ in your IPAFFS dashboard.

Before you permit an agent to raise IPAFFS notifications on your behalf, you must both register with IPAFFS first: Registration Requirements for Importers - UK Plant Health Information Portal (defra.gov.uk).

2. My agent is not based in the UK, can they register for IPAFFS?

It is not possible for any importers or agents, not based in the UK, to register and use IPAFFS.  Non-UK importers will need to use a proxy UK address in order to register and use the service  Further information regarding registration can be found on the Plant Health Portal. Non-UK agents can not register for IPAFFS.

3. As an Agent, How do I know if a customer is on IPAFFS, and if they have linked their account to mine?

Agents can check their dashboard/IPAFFS accounts and look at what companies are linked to them. Agents can also see which traders they are able to raise a pre-notification on behalf of at the start of the pre-notification process.

4. Will we as importers be notified of an IPAFFS application when an agent submits it on our behalf? 

No – You will need to log into IPAFFS to see the alerts on your Dashboard.

5. How do we authorise our delivery agent to complete IPAFFS applications on our behalf?

We do have an option use delegation of authority and you both need to be registered on IPAFFS. Find out more by reading the IPAFFS guidance.

6. Do you have to be an agent to register for and use IPAFFS?

No - you can be a trader, as long as you are a UK registered company with a UK address.

7. What training do you have available for Agents?

We have a recording of how to raise an IPAFFS notification, as well as other parts of functionality here: Pre-notifying on IPAFFS (youtube.com)

8. Do you have to inform who the Import Agent is that you are using? 

No, they will be notified via IPAFFS.

9. If our notifications are made by an agent can we upload amended documents ourselves?

Yes.  If an agent raises a notification on your behalf, you will still be able to amend it yourself.

10. Why does an agent registering for IPAFFS need a UK address?  

Traders wishing to import plants and plant products to the UK must meet the registration requirements set out in Article 65 of the Plant Health Regulation 2016/2031.  Part of this is requiring a UK address/UK proxy address. Guidance on this can be found here: Registration Requirements for Importers - UK Plant Health Information Portal (defra.gov.uk)


General Import Queries

1. What fees are associated with importing?

Please click this link for useful information on fees - Plants and Plant Products Import Fees - UK Plant Health Information Portal (defra.gov.uk).

2. Will inspectors get in touch with me if there is a problem with my import notification?

Yes - please ensure the contact details declared on each IPAFFS notification are correct, so that our Inspectors contact the right person. Inspectors may get in touch via email or phone call.

3. What is the definition of a consignment?

A consignment is a number of goods covered by the same official phytosanitary certificate, conveyed by the same means of transport and coming from the same territory or third country.

4. Do CITES certificates need to be added to the entry? 


5. Do border control colleagues have access to IPAFFS?  

No other agencies have access to IPAFFS. You would have to contact them yourself and inform the importer.  

6. Does a CHED-PP have a validity period? 

The CHED-PP is the document you get after you successfully raise a prenotification on IPAFFS. It contains all information declared by the Trader/Agent related to the consignment.

For HMI goods, there is a 7-day validity for imports of certain crops, with 3 days as a general maximum for susceptible commodities. The default is 2 days, but only where the item is not otherwise determined. The period of validity begins with the date of issue of the CHED-PP / HCG6, not the date of application.

7. Is a Phytosanitary Certificate needed for cases in transit, where the UK is not the final destination? 

If the end destination is not the UK, PHSI won’t check the Phytos. However, the IPPAFS system will still ask the trader/agent to upload a Phyto. 

8. How does IPAFFS work in line with CDS (Customs)?

IPAFFS uses ALVS (the 3 match rule), which is same as PEACH. ALVS needs IPAFF'S CHEDPP reference to be identical to the one declared on customs, as it uses that as matching criteria (along with commodity codes and declared net weights).

9. If a consignment requires amendments prior to its arrival, will this cause any fees?

No, as long as the consignment status is not 'Valid' on your IPAFFS Dashboard, meaning it has not yet progressed through all checks and reached an end state, no charge will be raised. Charges relating to an incoming consignment activate as soon as checks are completed.

10. Do you have written guidance on how to fill out an IPAFFS pre-notification?

Yes, it is here: IMPORTER-IPAFFS-Pre-Notification-Guide.pdf (defra.gov.uk)

11. Is there any way to flag high value imports, that may be at risk of resulting in serious financial losses if held for a long time?

This depends on the commodity. For example, plants for planting are treated as high risk and therefore APHA prioritise these inspections over produce. This means that consignments of plants intended for planting will be inspected first where possible.

Control Points (CPs) allow importers to move their goods through the border to a customs approved inland facility. This would alleviate the risk of a high value consignment waiting in line at a BCP.

Guidance on CPs, how to apply etc. can be found here: CP Guidance - UK Plant Health Information Portal (defra.gov.uk)

If you feel you’re not eligible to designate your facility as a CP then it would be worth liaising with the BCP your consignments will be using on entry into GB. Many BCPs offer temperature controlled environments such as ambient, regrated and frozen to help maintain the integrity of consignments.

Importing HMI Goods

If you are importing goods that meet the Specific Marketing Standard (SMS)  from a non-EU country to Great Britain, you’ll need a certificate of conformity. When declaring HMI commodities on IPAFFS, the procedure is the same as for declaring plant health commodities.

Depending on the commodity declared, IPAFFS automatically assigns the relevant goods to the appropriate checks. If HMI checks are required, IPAFFS will generate the requirement for an HMI check. Additionally, if a commodity covered by SMS is declared on IPAFFS, the option to specify the variety and class would be available.

For goods covered by the  General Marketing Standard (GMS), submission should only occur when HMRC instructs the importer to do so.

If you have further HMI enquiries, please contact the Centre for International Trade (CIT) at phsi-importers@apha.gov.uk


Using IPAFFS: raising a pre-notification

1. How can I find out when to pre-notify?  

Requirements vary by commodity. Please follow guidance on this link: Import Requirements - UK Plant Health Information Portal (defra.gov.uk) 

2. How can I search for my commodity code?

Genus and Species search functionality in IPAFFS is now live. Genus and Species search allows you to search for commodity codes simply by typing in the genus and species.

3. What steps do I take if I can’t find the commodity code for my commodities on IPAFFS?

Firstly, please double-check the commodity code search tool, found here: How to Locate Commodity Codes - UK Plant Health Information Portal (defra.gov.uk) and if you are still unable to locate your commodity on the system, please pick an alternative commodity code from the tool linked above, that most closely matches the goods in question, and contact CIT so that we can review the available commodity codes.

You can contact the Centre for International Trade [CIT] by phoning the Imports Helpdesk on: 0300 1000 313 or contacting them by email on: phsi-importers@apha.gov.uk        

Their opening hours are 6am-12pm every day.

4. What steps do I take if I can’t find the genus/species for my commodities on IPAFFS?

You will need to check if there are any synonyms in use for that specific genus or species This can be done using the EPPO website (EPPO Global Database) as it will confirm whether it's a preferred name.

If you can’t find the specific species, then you can use the higher taxonomic level of genus e.g. Mangifera sp. , as above, please raise with CIT if the species is a preferred name and is not listed in IPAFFS.

5. Can you please advise what an EPPO code is and where can we find them 

An EPPO Code is a unique reference number used by the European and Mediterranean Plant Protection Organization (EPPO), to identify plants, pests and pathogens – that are important to agriculture and crop protection. 
You can find EPPO on the Global EPPO Database: EPPO Global Database

6. How long in advance do we need to submit notification? 

IPAFFS only allows you to submit applications at least 5 days in advance, however once you have submitted an application, you are able to notify of early arrival via your Dashboard on IPAFFS.

You must give advance notice to the responsible authority each time you bring a regulated consignment to the UK. You must give notice for material:

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

Please see here for additional guidance: Import plants and plant products from non-EU countries to Great Britain and Northern Ireland - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

7. Can I amend my IPAFFS notification once it has passed the checks to enter GB, but has not arrived due to traffic/delays?

If a consignment has passed the checks and entered GB you will not be required to amend the IPAFFS prenotification.

If the goods have auto-cleared but technically haven’t arrived at the border, we won’t ask you to amend your application as the system will have flagged that ‘pass’ of the checks as an end state, which cannot be amended.

8. On IPAFFS, how do I delete old notifications, or old in-progress notifications without sending them through to APHA to get checked?

Notifications that have not been Submitted should be in ‘DRAFT’ Status, in which case please select View Details -> Delete Notification.

We do not currently have the functionality on our side to be able to delete Notifications stuck on the ‘IN PROGRESS’. Status, we can appreciate this may look unsightly on the dashboard and will inform you when we have a fix.

9. How I can see that if my import shipment has passed the checks, and that the goods have been released? 

On your IPAFFS Dashboard, the status of the Notifications will be Valid.  

10. If the goods are on a lorry that’s crossing the Channel, do we input ‘vessel’ or ‘road vehicle’?

Road vehicle, as it will be the last vehicle the commodities were on before going to a Border Control Post. 

11. How do we handle trees of varying weights when raising an IPAFFS notification?

If you get an overall weight, not a weight per commodity, then you should split the overall weight per unit/plant - even if commodities vary in size, you would need an average weight. However, where possible the number of plants should be provided.

12. What country do I select on ‘country of origin’ if I am importing goods that have multiple countries of origins?

On IPAFFS, you should state the country that has issued the export Phytosanitary Certificate to GB. For example, if you are importing fruit from Kenya, but the goods were consolidated in the Netherlands with a Dutch Phytosanitary Certificate, the country of origin would be the Netherlands.

13. We have used a delivery agent to complete PEACH applications on our behalf, but this mostly occurs once the consignment arrives in the country. Is this option still available?

We do have an option use delegation of authority and you both need to be registered on IPAFFS. Find out more by reading the IPAFFS guidance.

14. Is the delivery address compulsory?

Yes – it is the responsibility of the individual raising the prenotification on IPAFFS to have this information.

15. What is the difference between shipments that are for private import and shipments that are for the internal market?

Goods imported under ‘Private Import’ are goods for individual/private shipments that are not for further sale or distribution (this excludes goods imported for research purposes because this is a form of commercial import, therefore if you are importing goods for a scientific purposes, you would select ‘for internal market, not ‘private import.’) 

Goods declared as ‘for internal market’ are commercial shipments that end their journey in GB.

16. Do we have to notify the BCP before our goods arrive there?  

No, the premises selected in your Notification on IPAFFS will be automatically notified, the same as the current process on PEACH. 

17. What is the quantity type for potted plants? 


18. On the commodities page, can you explain the difference between quantity and packages?  

Quantity refers to the amount of each particular commodity being imported, and the packages refers to the number of boxes, for example, of that plant. 

19. For goods coming in a vehicle through Eurotunnel is there a choice of BCP? for instance, the option to use a BCP in Dover? 

Available choices are dictated by the commodities, and IPAFFS has a pre-populated drop-down of BCPs in GB.

20. When filling out the BCP information, How do we know which specific inspection premises will be used for our import?

You will need to select where you think your goods will be inspected, and you would have to amend your IPAFFS notification if it changes. We recommend getting in touch with specific port operators to understand where goods will be going for specific BCPs.

21. Is there a size limit to each accompanying document (e.g Phytosanitary Certificate, Bill of Lading, Invoice) that can be uploaded?  

Yes – 10mb.

22. On the 'Accompanying Documents' page, which documents are mandatory and which are optional?

You must upload a Phytosanitary Certificate to your pre-notification, you will not be allowed to submit your pre-notification without one. Other documents are optional, although uploading a transport document such as an airway bill or a bill of lading is preferred. Other commercial documentation can also be provided. Provision of such documents can help to corroborate information presented on the phytosanitary certificate  and enable your consignment to be cleared quicker. 

23. When would I need to use IPAFFS in the following situations relating to Trade via Jersey?

  • Saint Malo to Jersey direct (not entering mainland UK) – If you are moving plants and plant products that require a phytosanitary certificate and pre-notification from St Malo to Jersey directly you will be required to pre-notify the Crown Dependency (CD) via their IT System. 
  • Holland through to Portsmouth on a lorry, then on a freight ship to Jersey where it is unloaded – There is no requirement to notify APHA of this consignment as it is a transit through GB. However, it should be notified to Jersey upon arrival. As long as it doesn’t enter free circulation in GB then it will need pre-notification upon arrival to the CD. 

UK nurseries to Jersey - If the plants and plant products enter GB and are in free circulation and are then subsequently moved on to the Crown Dependencies there is no requirement for the goods to be pre-notified to the Crown Dependencies and be accompanied with a PC. However, a UK plant passport is required.  Further information on plant passporting can be found on the Plant Health Portal, and Importing plants and plant products (gov.je)

24. Why is the option of plastic plant pots not available in packaging?

IPAFFS’ Packaging types are designated by the UN, and if a certain type of packaging is not available for selection, it will not be on the UN list.

This may change in the future as the UN list expands. In the mean time, please select ‘Other’ when raising a prenotification.

25. When importing bare root plants stacked on one large pallet, what do we write for bundle amount?

Please choose from the list of most appropriate options. This enables the inspectors to assess the size of the consignment and the nature of the packaging in order to check that it conforms to what is declared on the phyto.

26. We import multiple varieties of potato seed in one consignment for trials purposes. Will we need to list all these varieties separately, and if so, under separate consignments or one consignment?

Seed potatoes only require genus and species, you do not need to list individual varieties. All varieties can be found when adding the commodity onto your prenotification. If you have selected a commodity and missed the variety/class, the system will remind you to select one and you will not be able to proceed with the prenotification until this is complete.

27. How many logins can you set up for IPAFFS?

The organisation is registered once, with the person who set this up as an administrator on the account. You can then invite as many colleagues as you wish, all users should have a separate account with access to your organisation. This means all users need separate government gateway accounts.

We recommend you set up at least 2 users as administrators, so you can choose the level of access each employee has when you assign them a role, and as a contingency in case the single administrator leaves your organisation.

28. If the EHC does not show the Seal or Trailer ID, do we still need to input the information on IPAFFS?

Whilst the Seal is not a mandatory field, you will need to declare the correct transport identification information (for example, the flight number, vehicle registration or vessel name - depending on the type of transport your goods are entering the country on).

29. Does the declared delivery address have to be the specific delivery address for each individual shipment, or can it just be the importer's address? (Our importers have more than 1 delivery address for warehouse unloading and we are not always told which one the consignment will arrive at).

IPAFFS uses the delivery address for traceability purposes, so if there are multiple delivery addresses, the importer address can be used as the delivery address, although this must be a UK address.

30. What is the minimum time you can leave between pre-notifying of goods using IPAFFS and their arrival?

This depends on the type of transport. For Air and Roll on/Roll off, it is 4 hours and for goods being imported on Rail or Road Freight it is 24 hours.

31. What if we don't have information for the vehicle registration number?

You can amend any IPAFFS notification in your dashboard, as long as you add the information to the notification before the goods arrive it will suffice. We ask for the vehicle registration details so that the vehicle can be tracked to BCP/Control Point.

32. What do we do if we have multiple countries of origin on our Phytosanitary Certificates?

Only one country of origin can be selected per application, but many consignments have multiple origins.  The 'Country of Origin' field refers to where the Phytosanitary Certificate has been issued from.

If you are importing multiple commodities, some of which have Phytosanitary Certificates issued by different countries, these must be created on IPAFFS as separate notifications.

For example: if there are 20 boxes of roses, with 10 having a Phyto issued in Spain, and 10 having a Phyto issued in France, this will require 2 separate notifications. If you have 20 boxes of roses, 10 boxes grown in France and 10 boxes grown in Spain but with 1 Phyto issued from the Netherlands, this requires only 1 notification.

33. Do I need to provide a trailer number / trailer identity or a Vehicle Registration Number (VRN) on IPAFFS?

Yes, please provide a trailer number / trailer identity for unaccompanied trailers and a trailer number / trailer identity or a Vehicle Registration Number (VRN) for accompanied loads.

This is a critical piece of information to help APHA Plant Health Inspectors co-ordinate consignments selected for a physical inspection with the port operator.  Without this information, the load may be delayed. 


CSV Queries

1. Where can I find CSV Guidance?

IPAFFS-Commodities-CSV-File-Upload-Written-Guide2.pdf (defra.gov.uk) 

2. Can you explain how we list pallets of mixed plants on the CSV File? 

Each genus and species needs to be declared on the CSV file. You can not designate a plant for planting consignment as a pallet that covers that multiple genera, each plants genus and species needs to be detailed individually. 

3. Why does the CSV not accept 10 digit commodity codes?

Currently, you will need to remove the last two zeros from a commodity code before inputting them into a CSV. There is ongoing work to rectify this.

4. When you use 'Copy as new' where a CSV was attached, is the CSV copied across?

No, however, the original Genus and Species are included but with 0 (zero) quantity allocated to each. You can edit this under the 'commodity' section when you finish raising that pre-notification.


ePhyto Queries

1. What is ePhyto?

ePhyto, officially the 'IPPC ephyto Solution' is a tool that transitions paper Phytosanitary Certificate Information into an electronic Phytosanitary Certificate, or an 'ePhyto'.

This allows for the secure exchange of ePhytos between countries, and lets you attach the ePhyto to your pre-notifications on IPAFFS.​ Cloning capability is still being tested and developed.

ePhyto will be used for all imports of high & medium risk plants & plant products into GB. We have rolled out the service to importers importing from Europe. We will communicate to trade in advance of ePhyto Cloning going live.

2. Where can I find it?

You can find this functionality at the top of your IPAFFS dashboard under 'clone this certificate.'

3. Will ePhyto provide a cloning solution?

Yes. We will issue communications to trade before the cloning function is due to go live.

ePhyto will bring cloning benefits where information from the ePhyto can be copied into a CHED PP pre-notification to allow for assisted pre-notification.

4. What are the benefits of ePhyto?

ePhyto is safer, reducing the possibility of fraud and eliminating the risk of damage associated with paper Phytosanitary Certificates (PC).

ePhyto is also faster, as exporters will receive their PCs quicker, allowing for goods to be moved sooner. 

ePhyto is more sustainable, resulting in less produce waste, and the removal of paper PCs.

5. Will ePhyto be used for Exports?

We are developing ePhyto for exports, beginning with Northern Ireland as part of a public beta during 2024.  On success of this project with Northern Ireland, we will roll out ePhyto for exports to countries that align with our roll-out criteria.

6. Will a copy of the original Phytosanitary Certificate still need to be printed and sent to the APHA offices?

No, you won't need to print them out and send them to the APHA offices.  The original Phytosanitary Certificate, which is now the electronic version, will have been sent directly to APHA.

7. Will Plant Health Inspectors still request to see the ePhyto document?

Yes, you will not be able to pre-notify on IPAFFS unless you provide a Phytosanitary Certificate.  It is a legal requirement.

8. Do we still need to attach a copy of the invoice and customs declaration in our IPAFFS entry?

Yes, your IPAFFS entry remains the same.  The only thing that is carried across as an attachment is the Phytosanitary Certificate.

9. What happens with growers in my exporting European country that refuse to use ePhyto?

They will continue to use paper Phytosanitary Certificates.

10. Where do we find the ePhyto reference number?

This is the unique Phytosanitary Certificate number. It is provided to you by the exporter and found on the Export Phyto.

11. Will joint Phyto/CITIES certificate be on this system?

Phytosanitary certificates can have a CITIES statement in lieu of an export CITIES permit.  We are currently reviewing the process with UKBF to ensure that checks can still be undertaken.  However, applications for plants and products (CHED PP) will be separate to any import notifications required for CITIES controlled goods.

12. We currently send the Phytosanitary Certificate to APHA, is this now automated?

This will not be required for any consignment that has an ePhyto issued for it, because that ePhyto is sent directly to APHA.  If you receive paper-based Phytosanitary Certificates (PC) that don't have an ePhyto issued with it, you will still be required to send the original PC to APHA.

13. Does the ePhyto come automatically to us as the importer, or does our supplier have to email us the certificate number? 

The ePhyto reference number will be available to view on the Exporting Phytosanitary Certificate once the exporting party have sent it to you.