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Rules of importing orchids 

 Importing and exporting plants 

Since Brexit there are new regulation and restrictions for bringing plant material into Great Britain from the EU. (Plant Health (EU Exit) Regulations 2020)

If you intend to bring material into the UK, it is important that you comply with the relevant plant health regulations. 

Although it is possible to bring in plants and plant material for personal use, the new import system for plants is tailored towards professional operators. The new plant health regulations now prevent the public from bringing in most plants and plant products in their personal baggage.

As the UK has now left the EU, the EU plant passport is no longer valid in GB. Post Brexit you must have a phytosanitary certificate (PC) to import plant material from the EU. This includes almost all plants for planting, most seeds, cut flowers and tuber vegetables such as potatoes from the EU. 

Individuals wanting to import plants for planting from the EU for personal use can do so by registering, free of charge, as an importer via the government's PEACH system.

As part of the import process, the individual importer would need to obtain a phytosanitary certificate for the material they are importing. In addition, from 1 January through to 31 December 2021, all plants and plant products eligible for import from the EU (termed High Priority Plants) are also required to undergo import pre-notification to the government via PEACH, and will need to have document checks and a physical health check completed at an inland place of destination (PoD). The individual importer can register a private home address as a PoD, alternatively, it may be possible to make an arrangement with a local garden centre or nursery, that may be willing to act as a PoD.  

There are costs associated with the importation process related to applying for phytosanitary certificates, checks and inspections that an individual importer is expected to meet. 

Obtaining a phytosanitary certificate (PC)

A PC is issued from the plant health authority of the country where the plant material originates from to guarantee that the material has been officially inspected, is free from pests and diseases and meets the legal requirements for the material to enter GB.

All orchids must have an export and import CITES applied for prior bringing in or taking the plants from the UK. Both export and import CITES have to be endorsed at border post to make them valid. Exemption of CITES ( but must have PC) are the following orchids : 20 or more of the same hybrid of: Phalaenopsis , Dendrobiums ,  Vandas  and  Cymbidium. If they are in bloom the numbers can be less but plants must be professionally retail processed . Seedling /micro propagated orchids in sealed flask (in vitro) do not need CITES either but PC still required on both.

There are strict penalties for smuggling prohibited and restricted items. This can include unlimited fines, the possibility of imprisonment, or both.

UK plant passport scheme

The UK now has a new plant passport scheme. Plants previously moved around GB on an EU plant passport, will now need a UK plant passport for movement. The issuing of plant passports is generally only applicable to professional operators (e.g. nurseries and garden centres) that are moving and selling plants to other professional operators.  

A nursery or garden centre will not need to pass on a UK plant passport to a customer if they are buying plants for personal use at a retail premise. The one exception to this rule is if a customer is purchasing a plant via an online sale. In this instance, the retailer must supply the purchaser with the UK plant passport for traceability purposes.

Buying plants via the internet

Plants ordered from overseas via the internet are subject to the same phytosanitary requirements as plants imported via other trading routes. 

We encourage gardeners to help protect the UK from the introduction of unwanted pests and diseases by always buying plants from established and trusted British mail order or internet seed and plant sellers. Plants and seeds for sale from reputable British companies may have originated from overseas but will have been imported following the government’s strict plant health regulations meaning the risk of inadvertently introducing new pests and diseases is significantly reduced.

If would like to import orchids from the EU in short :


You need export CITES from the nursery/person grown the plant with that apply a valid import CITES permit, plus need Phytosanitary certificate.

You need to register for PEACH and PoD .

The cost of CITES is £74 per genus plus £1.50 of each additional species within the genus.

VAT must be paid on all imported items too.

There is an additional plant health check at the entry point which is £192 (no matter on number of plants) for orchid plants.

All distance sellers (online, post) must provide UK plant passport to all customers.

This UK plant passport is not for taking the plants from the UK but to provide traceability and to prove that the plants were obtained and brought into the country legally.


Most plants and plant material originating from outside of the EU (i.e. third countries) must also have a phytosanitary certificate for importation. Regulated plant material from third countries also requires pre-notification (as with EU goods). Imports of some plant material from third countries is prohibited. A licence is required from APHA to import, move or hold prohibited material. Licences are not available to the public.

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