Brexit: Plant health

New Plant Health requirements

Our exit from the EU means it has been necessary for the UK to develop its own Plant Health legislation to protect our native and plantation woodlands from the threat of pests and diseases. Some of this legislation replicates the previous measures applicable to non-EU movements of wood and some create new plant health requirements for the import, export, and movement of wood, wood products, and bark from the EU.


The Government developed a 3 staged phased import regime for plant products from the EU to give importers time to adjust to the new requirements. However, all wood and wood products subject to plant health requirements are defined as high priority and so fall into Phase 1 which requires:


  • From 1 January 2021, all ‘high priority’ material must have a phytosanitary certificate and require pre-notification. These will be subject to physical and identity checks that will occur at place of destination (POD) when these are designated by importers.

The dates for implementation of Phases 2 & 3 have now been delayed to January and March 2022 but this makes no difference to the requirements already in place for wood, wood products and bark from the EU, other than any required physical inspections will continue at place of destination (POD) until additional new Border Control Posts (BCPs) are put in place.

Imports to the UK

What has not changed?

Imports of sawn conifer timber from the EU, which is bark-free, will still be permitted without Phytosanitary certificates (unless it is from Portugal or Spain).


It is recommended that any accompanying commercial documentation carries the statement that the product is free from bark (not de-barked).


Associated dunnage (bearers, stickers, and spacers) of the same type and quality of this bark-free material do not have to be ISPM15 compliant where it is banded together with the sawn timber product.


There will also be no change to the operational processes for importing into Great Britain from non-EU third countries such as North America, Russia, Ukraine, or Japan. In these cases, the UK legislation continues the previous requirements for Phytosanitary certificates, pre-notification, and where required physical checks will still be carried out at existing BCPs.


However, importers should be aware that some previous derogations such as the use of mill certificates from North America are still subject to ongoing discussions between the UK and these supply countries. See below form more details

New Phytosanitary certificates requirements


Phytosanitary certificates (PCs) issued by Plant Health Authorities in EU member states have replaced EU plant passports (issued by authorised Professional Operators) for the import of goods.


On entry to Great Britain, documentary import checks are required on PCs and physical checks may also be carried out, according to the risk-based priority for the commodity concerned.


In November we held a webinar on the incoming changes to the timber industry, including plant health.

Download Nick Boulton's Presentation

Sample of a Phytosanitary Certificate
(Note this document will vary with different government departments)

UK Landing Requirements

One of the most critical aspects for timber traders is ensuring that import Phytosanitary Certificates contain the correct references to reflect the Phytosanitary measures which have been undertaken on the wood before export.


The Plant Health (Phytosanitary Conditions) (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2020, is now the primary legislation and therefore all import and export Phytosanitary certificates must make reference to this legislation. Within this regulation, the new UK Annex 7 contains the detailed UK landing requirements for each regulated species.


In practical terms, many of the measures applicable to imports from outside of the EU remain the same as the EU Annex 7, but the list has been amended and so the clause numbers that need to be referenced on phytosanitary certificates will be different from those identified previously in the EU legislation.


The UK Annex 7 also contains the detailed UK landing requirements which are applicable to imports from the EU. These new requirements are summarised in the list of high priority plants which can be found on the Government website via this link HERE.

We are assured that DEFRA, the UK Government department responsible for international plant health matters, has officially informed all national plant health bodies around the world of the new UK legislation and the specific phytosanitary measures which can be applied.


TTF members have a responsibility to ensure that for the specific products being purchased the correct landing requirements are applied and the correct UK clause reference(s) from UK Annex 7 appear on the official documentation.


To assist TTF members an extract from the new Annex 7, which can be found on the right-hand side, includes the clauses for wood and wood products starting at page 93 Clause 109.


TTF has also produced a draft table (dated 05/02/2021) which shows the relationship between the relevant clauses in the EU Annex 7 and the new UK Annex 7. You can view and download the table by clicking on the image on the right-hand side.


The table is for information only and members must check for themselves the specific clause and measures required. Members should look out for future amendments to this table.

What you need to do

  • Familiarise yourself with the new clauses as outlined in the table
  • Importers will need to register with the Forestry Commission as a professional operator.
  • Once registered importers will need to pre-notify the arrival of consignments of controlled material from the EU using the FC notification of landing form.
  • For the period 1 January 2021 until 1Janauary 2022, checks may be carried out inland at Places of Destination rather than at Border Control Posts. You will need to include this information on the Notification of Landing form.

Important Documents

UK Annex 7

EU to UK Annex 7 Phytosanitary clause table

Derogations and additional requirements

In addition to the main EU plant health regulation, some important supplementary regulations provided derogations or imposed additional requirements that are important to UK timber traders. Some of these are listed below.


Ash from the USA and Canada were previously covered by the derogations set out in (EU) 2020/918 and (EU) 2020/1002, these have been amended to meet UK needs and the reference in official documentation such as phytosanitary certificates should be given as:


The Plant Health (Amendment etc.) (EU Exit) Regulations 2020 SI No. 1482 followed by Regulation 50 for wood from Canada or Regulation 51 for wood from the USA.

However, the phytosanitary measures to meet these derogations remain the same as those required by the EU and can be viewed here:

(EU) 2020/918 For wood from Canada   or   (EU) 2020/1002 for wood from USA

The landing requirements for US hardwoods are fundamentally unchanged. UK importers can now obtain export Phytosanitary certificates from USDA which reference the new UK “Plant Health (Phytosanitary Conditions) (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2020”.


The individual UK Landing requirements for each species are given as numbered clauses in the new UK Annex 7 to these regulations. By way of an example, the USDA database provides a list of the UK requirements for Oak.


Western Red Cedar, Douglas Fir, and Hemlock from Canada previously had the opportunity to use a very old derogation negotiated between Canada and the EU which allowed “Grub and Bark” or Heat Treatment certificates to be issued by authorised Mills.


These derogations are currently in question as no specific UK legislation has yet been put in place to amend the EU Directive (Council Directive 77/93/EEC). Members should note that there are ongoing discussions regarding these mill certificates.


Our current understanding is that where phytosanitary certificates cannot be obtained these Canadian mill certificates will continue to be allowed but will be recorded as documentary infringements. This is a temporary measure until alternative legislation can be put in place.

Export Phytosanitary Certificates

Export phytosanitary certificates have replaced EU plant passports and are now necessary for the entry of regulated products at the country of destination.


Exporters will need to register as an exporter with the Forestry Commission to move regulated material from Great Britain into the EU.


To obtain an export phytosanitary certificate, exporters must use the electronic application system to apply online for export phytosanitary certificates (EAPC) for the Forestry Commission to issue PCs to accompany regulated material.


Where necessary, PCs must carry additional declarations that are relevant to the accompanying consignment of plants or plant products.


Inspections may be required prior to export dependent on the requirements of the EU.


Checks will apply to regulated material as it enters the EU from GB.


Northern Ireland remains within the European Union’s Sanitary and Phytosanitary zone, so EU import requirements will continue to apply to imports into Northern Ireland.


What you need to do:

The process for sending regulated material to the EU will be the same as the current process for exporting to third countries. You need to:



Watch our Northern Ireland webinar to learn more about plant health requirements

Download Nick Boulton's Presentation

Click the image for plant health contacts around the world

Wood Packaging Material (WPM)

All WPM moving between Great Britain and the EU must meet ISPM15 international standards by undergoing heat treatment and marking.


All WPM may be subject to official checks either upon or after entry to the EU or Great Britain. This requirement is already in place for WPM moving between the Rest of the World (RoW), i.e., non-EU countries, and the EU, and the UK.


What is ISPM 15?

International Standard for Phytosanitary Measures 15 (ISPM 15) sets out measures required to reduce the risk of the introduction and spread of pests associated with wood packaging material (WPM). For Great Britain, this requires all WPM (bar exceptions) entering and leaving Great Britain to be treated and marked.

Are there any exemptions?

Whilst there can be exceptions to the exempted products listed below, depending on the country of origin and the type of wood used in the product manufacture, the following articles are generally regarded as being of sufficiently low risk to be exempt from ISPM 15 requirements.


– wood packaging material made entirely from thin wood (6 mm or less in thickness).

– wood packaging made wholly of processed wood material, such as plywood, particleboard, oriented strand board, or veneer that has been created using glue, heat or pressure, or a combination thereof.

– barrels for wine and spirit that have been heated during manufacture.

– gift boxes for wine, cigars, and other commodities made from wood that has been processed and/or manufactured in a way that renders it free of pests.

– sawdust, wood shavings, and wood wool.

– wood components permanently attached to freight vehicles and containers.


How do I ensure my WPM is compliant?

Contact your supplier or TIMCON if you need more advice about the steps you can take to prepare for the end of the Transition Period.


See the document on the right-hand side from DEFRA for more information.  

DEFRA’s WPM Guidance Document