Brexit and changes to UK plant health requirements

Brexit and changes to UK plant health requirements


The TTF have addressed many practical aspects of Brexit over recent months, however, the area where essential official information has been lacking is around the UK plant health requirements which may be imposed on European imports of wood and wood products. Recent draft legislation has now made clearer what those requirements will be.

We know for certain that all wood products that have been subject to significant processing into wood-based panels, laminated and glulam sections etc do not pose plant health risks because of the heat and pressure involved in the processing. However, their packaging, unless it also made from fully processed wood, will from 1 January 2021 need to be ISPM15 compliant and marked.

We also know fully square-edged conifer wood from Europe, which has been viewed as “not of phytosanitary significance”, has no scientific reason to change. This is reinforced by the Forestry Commission recommending firms apply the statement “this product is free from bark” on commercial documents, to help identify such products and prevent border delays.

There are of course exceptions. All conifer wood from the Pine wood nematode zones in Portugal and parts Span which must be fully controlled and will need Phytosanitary certificates.

Conifer wood with bark or which has not been fully debarked coming from any EU country is and will continue to be subject to control. Members importing such materials should ensure each shipment is accompanied by a phytosanitary certificate, their premises are registered with the Forestry Commission and all shipments are pre-notified prior to arrival.

The position for European Hardwoods is much less obvious because it is only within the last few weeks that UK draft legislation has been written setting out the identified risks and necessary actions. This legislation replaces plant passports with phytosanitary certificates, and introduces new requirements for several European hardwood species to protect UK forests against Asian Longhorn Beetle and other pests.

Official communications are currently being drafted and we will share these with members as soon as they are available. In the meantime, on the plant health page of the .gov website there is an undated, unattributed list of “high priority plants and plant products” which can be viewed here.

This information indicates that the UK will require from 1 January 2021, registered traders, phytosanitary certificates, and pre-notification for shipments of a number commercially important EU Hardwood species, fortunately excluding Oak, but including Beech, Birch and Ash originating in specific countries, see information below.

While this only applies to some species which include bark, for other species these requirements will apply to all shipments. Access the full legislation here.

To prevent delays at UK Customs companies importing the listed European Hardwoods should register their premises with the Forestry Commission if they have not already done so, and look to obtain phytosanitary certificates for all shipments arriving January 2021 onwards.

European Hardwood and Hardwood products

From 1 January 2021, new requirements will apply to UK imports of high priority plants and plant products from the EU. This includes the requirement for:

  • Goods to be accompanied by a phytosanitary certificate.
  • Import pre-notification to be submitted to competent authority by the GB importer;
  • Documentary and identity checks and physical inspection.

This list will come into effect from 1 January 2021:

For more information on Brexit, visit our Brexit page

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