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Regulated EU trade

Within the EU single market common plant health controls across EU countries mean that plant health regulations are generally relaxed.

However, some pests present within the EU are still absent from parts of the EU and these pest free areas are often given protected zone status to prevent further spread. For example, the European spruce bark beetle (Ips Typographus) is endemic to mainland Europe but Britain has protected zone status to protect us from the introduction of the beetle.

Within the EU, plant health checks must be made at the place of production by the producer. In Great Britain, the producer or subsequent trader responsible for the movement of regulated material to a protected zone within the EU must be registered with us to make these checks.

Registered traders - your obligations

1. Register with us

Unless they qualify for exemption, producers and traders of controlled forestry material must register with us. You are then responsible for ensuring that any regulated forestry material that you deal with meets the plant health requirements. This must be done prior to consignment and, in the case of material received from a consignor within the EU, on receipt of controlled material.

2. Issue plant passports

As evidence of this you must, in many cases, attach a plant passport to the goods, their packaging or the vehicle transporting them. Only those authorised by us to issue plant passports may do so and the authority only relates to the type of material declared in the application form at the time of registration. Goods sold from retail outlets do not need to have plant passports attached.

3. Check material

Once registered it is your statutory duty to perform visual checks of material and to report any suspicious signs of disease or pest attack to a Plant Health Inspector. You are responsible for ensuring that the details given in plant passports, issued or received by you or other plant health certificates are correct.

Issuing plant passports

A plant passport may only be issued for relevant material that has been the subject of a satisfactory inspection at its place of production. There is no standard format for a plant passport, but the following information must appear on the passport:

    • the phrase “EC Plant Passport”


    • country code of the member state in which the plant passport was issued


    • “FC” (the code for the Forestry Commission the responsible official body in GB)


  • your unique Forestry Commission registration number
  • an individual serial, week or batch number, or invoice number
  • botanical name of the plants
  • quantity in the consignment
  • the letters “ZP” and a Protected Zone code where necessary
  • the letters “RP” if it is a replacement plant passport (see section on Replacement Plant Passports)
  • country of origin of the consignment, if the plants and plant products have been imported from a non-EU country

The passport may be incorporated into a document (e.g. delivery note) or on a label attached to the plant or plant product or its packaging. The passport must travel with the plant or plant product.

You may choose which one of the following three options you prefer when issuing plant passports:

• all of the information may appear on a delivery note or other document travelling with the consignment. This is the simplest option for many suppliers;

• passporting information may be split between labels attached to the plants or plant products and the delivery note or other document accompanying the consignment. In this case, full details must still appear on the delivery note or accompanying document while a shorter list (those listed at i-v) can also appear on labels;

• all information may appear on labels attached to the plants, plant products or their packaging, without appearing on a delivery note or accompanying document. If you choose this option, there must be at least one label for each “tradable unit” (that is, plants or plant products of the same variety, grown or produced in the same lot, by the same producer and destined for the same customer). Your local plant health inspector can advise. You must keep a record of all plant passports issued.

Passporting information may appear on the same delivery note (or other document) as information on non-passported items. The passporting elements must, however, be clearly identifiable. Your local plant health inspector can advise on how best to incorporate passport details on your usual trade documents.

Passporting details are required regardless of the size of the consignment. For example, if a delivery consists of just one regulated product together with any number of non-passportable items, the details must still appear as described above.

Replacement Plant Passports

A replacement plant passport is necessary in certain circumstances where the original cannot be re-used because:

• the consignment received under cover of the original plant passport is to be broken up into smaller lots before being moved on

• the consignment is to be aggregated with others before being moved on

• the nature of the consignment, and thus its plant health status, is changed by you (e.g. wood is kiln-dried, or bark is treated).

A replacement plant passport is not required where:

• consignments received by you are moved on in their original state, and packaging where appropriate

• the plant health status is changed in such a way that the material no longer requires a plant passport (e.g. conifer wood with bark is either square sawn or bark-free)

• the material is consigned to retailers or to those who are not engaged in professional plant production

A replacement plant passport, in addition to your registration number, must identify the original producer or importer by the code "RP" followed by either his registration number or, where commercial confidentiality is of concern, a code assigned by you. A Plant Health Officer must be able to identify, through your written records, the original producer or importer.

Swiss plant passports

Trade between the EU and Switzerland is subject to a separate agreement. Under this agreement, certain material that previously required a phytosanitary certificate when traded between the EU and Switzerland may now be traded with a Plant Passport. Contact your local Plant Health inspector to find out what material is permitted to be plant passported if originating from Switzerland.

Action on receipt of passports

If you pass the material on to another user then you must take a note of the plant passport details, and pass the plant passport on with the consignment. If you are permitted to issue replacement plant passports and you are splitting a consignment, then you must retain the original plant passport.

As the final user you must retain plant passports (including replacement plant passports) you receive for at least one year to enable your plant health inspector to trace back any outbreaks of pests or diseases.

Where your supplier has used the delivery note as the passport or has sent a split passport (with some information on the label and the remainder on an accompanying document) you need only retain the accompanying document.

If all the passporting information is on a label, the label must be kept. However, this is not always practical (for example, where labels are firmly glued to plant trays), and some labels are easily misplaced. In such cases, the passporting information may be copied onto a manual or computer log providing this is easily accessible for plant health inspection.
It is not necessary to retain the original supplier document (unless part of this forms the plant passport).

Protected zone codes

There is no EC legislation governing the format of “ZP” plant passports; in the UK three different systems are acceptable:

The code “ZP” may appear on the passport followed by:

    • The country codes for all Member States which have a protected zone for that organism. For example, for coniferous wood to enter a Protected Zone for Ips typographus (eight toothed spruce bark beetle), the plant passport would include the following: ZP – UK, IRL. The consignment may then move freely throughout the UK and all other Protected Zones for Ips typographus.


    • Just the country code of the consignment’s intended destination. For example, to send conifer wood to Ireland, you could use the code ZP – IRL. However, the consignment would not then be eligible to enter an Ips typographus Protected Zone in any other country.


  • The Annex to the EC Directive lists Protected Zones (Commission Directive 690/2008). For example, in the Annex to the Directive, Ips typographus Protected Zones are listed as point a12. To send plants to a Ips typographus Protected Zone you could therefore use the code ZP – a12. Using this code, the plants could enter all Ips typographus


    • Austria: A
    • Belgium: B
    • Bugaria: BG
    • Corsica: F (C)
    • Cyprus: CY
    • Czech Republic: CZ
    • Denmark: DK
    • Estonia: EE
    • Finland: FI
    • France: F
    • Germany: D
    • Great Britain: GB (ex)
    • Greece: EL
    • Guernsey: UK (GU)
    • Hungary: HU
    • Ireland: IRL
    • Isle of Man: UK (IoM)
    • Italy: I
    • Jersey: UK (JE)
    • Latvia: LV
    • Lithuania: LT
    • Luxembourg: LU
    • Malta: M
    • Netherlands: NL
    • Northern Ireland: UK (NI)
    • Poland: PL
    • Portugal: P
    • Romania:RO
    • Slovakia: SK
    • Slovenia: SI
    • Spain: E
    • Sweden: S
    • Switzerland: CH
    • United Kingdom: UK
Last updated: 21st June 2016