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

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


Is AOS definitely happening? 

AOs needs to be tested and piloted to evaluate how feasible the approach is, both for the trader’s operational competency and to ensure biosecurity risks have been managed and mitigated. 

The pilot may demonstrate non-feasibility and consequently a decision may be made for AOS not to proceed. 

If I am CP designated, will I automatically be able to take part in the AOS pilot? 

CP designation is a key criterion of AOS. However, there is no guarantee that you will be selected to be part of the AOS pilot. If you decide to become CP designated; this means that SPS checks can take place at your premises by an APHA/Scottish Government inspector if you are not part of the AOS pilot.  

If you are CP designated, alongside being a UK established business and having customs authorisation, you can apply for the AOS pilot, there will be a selection process to ensure that we have a range of businesses and sectors included in the pilot to test the feasibility of AOS. 

If AOS does not get implemented, what other options do I have for the checks of my goods? 

There are two options for the SPS checks of plants and plant products. 

If you are designated as a CP, you can get your checks conducted on site by an APHA/Scottish Government inspector. 

Alternatively, your goods can arrive to GB through a Border Control Post (BCP), where they will be inspected on site there. 

Find out further information on BCPs and CPs. 

Will you take AOS pilot applications after the pilot starts? 

No. The group involved in the pilot will be selected from the EOIs to get a representative sample of sectors. If you do want to be part of the pilot, you will have to submit an EOI. To ensure the pilot covers a representative range of sectors and businesses there will be a selection process. 

Will there be a commercial advantage for those who have Authorised Operator Status? 

AOS operators must meet specific organisational and infrastructure requirements such as being subject to periodic assurance audits and operating a control point. It will be a commercial decision on whether AOS benefits their business. If AOS does not fit a trader's business model, they will still be able to have their import checks carried out by Plant Health and Seed Inspectors (PHSI) at a Border Control Post or inland Control Point.  


How many businesses will be involved in the pilot? Is there a limit to how many traders can become an AO? 

The pilot will be open to a limited group of UK-based business on a voluntary basis who are trading with EU and Rest of World countries.  

If AOS is rolled out after a successful pilot, there will not be a limit to the number of AOs who can apply for authorisation. The authorisation will be available to traders that can meet the criteria and achieve the required competence to be able to carry out physical and identity inspections on the plants and plant products. 

Will the devolved administrations be involved in pilot – e.g., Wales and Scotland? 

Welsh and Scottish colleagues are involved in the development of the testing and pilot approach. Ideally, we would like at least one business from each nation involved in the pilot, but this is dependent on where applicants are located. There will be an expression of interest for trade to apply to be part of the pilot launched from Q1 2024. Traders will need to be a Control Point to be part of the pilot as this is a key criterion of the authorisation. 

How and why is Authorised Operator Status (AOS) different to the Plant Healthy scheme? 

AOS is an import control delegation that authorises operators to carry out their own plant health physical and identity inspections, duplicating GB plant health service procedures. Businesses will need to achieve the required AOS competence standard through training and assessment. They also need to meet specific facility elements, such as being a Control Point, to satisfy legislatively required facility provision to meet biosecurity requirements.  

Plant Health's focus, as a private assurance scheme, appears to be aimed at a range of horticultural businesses and organizations that make up the live plant supply chain to manage the full range of biosecurity aspects of their business activity. AOS would not prevent an importer applying for Plant Healthy certification to implement biosecurity management practices across all their activities. 

The range of goods being imported through AOS exceeds the remit of Plant Healthy. The AOS pilot will include most regulated fresh produce, alongside plants and plant products and is aimed at businesses involved across the import process such as agents, wholesalers, logistics providers and direct importers.  

The AOS project very much hopes to include a Plant Healthy business within the pilot to quantifiably assess any observed benefits that Plant Healthy may deliver. 

What are the costs involved in gaining Authorised Operator Status? 

We are looking into a fee structure based on cost recovery for the services APHA and Scottish Government provide across GB. Participants will not be subject to AOS fees during the pilot. However, if the pilot is successful, it is expected that AOS will be subject to fees.  

The statutory plant health fees for documentary, identity, and physical import inspections will continue to apply for the participants of AOS during the pilot. These fees will be charged as they are currently. 

Why wasn’t I selected to take part in the pilot? 

We are sorry you were not selected to take part in the Authorised Operator Status pilot. Selection was based on pre-determined eligibility criteria and making sure we had a range of business sizes, models, sectors and import commodities. This is essential to test the viability of the AOS proposal. 

Businesses were made aware prior to applying that there would be a limited number of businesses accepted onto the pilot and that there was no guarantee of being selected.  

How did you ensure impartiality during the selection process? 

We based our selection on a set of pre-determined eligibility criteria. This ensured that all applicants were assessed consistently and decisions made were based on the objectives and needs of the pilot to test the Authorised Operator Status proposal. 

Is there an appeal process? 

There is no appeal process for pilot business selection.    

When will the pilot end? 

The pilot is due to finish in December 2024.  

How many businesses are taking part in the pilot? 

We have selected 12 businesses to take part in the pilot.