'Place of destination' checks on EU imports of plants and plant products from 1 January 2021

The new regulations will only apply to high priority plants and plant products from 1 January, with the measures extended to all regulated plants and plant products from 1 April.

♦ Click here for more information on these changes from our expert advisers.

What is changing?

To help ease the transition, newly introduced plant health physical inspections will be allowed to take place away from the border until 30 June 2021 at a place of destination. Members who require physical plant health inspections for high priority plants between 1 January 2021 and 30 June 2021 can register to become a ‘place of destination’.

♦ Click here to visit the Gov.uk website to find out more about how to register as a 'place of destination'.

This will apply to those importing high priority plants and plant products that would have needed an EU Plant Passport prior to 1 January 2021, but after 1 January 2021 will require a phytosanitary certificate. Click here for a list of high priority plants and plant products.

From 1 July 2021, all physical checks on regulated goods will take place at Border Control Posts. Physical import checks at place of destination will no longer be permitted.

Inspection fees in England and Wales for EU imports will only apply from 1 April 2021.

What is a 'place of destination'?

To act as a place of destination for physical inspections on high priority plants and plant products imported from the EU from 1 January 2021 there are certain requirements you must meet in terms of transport, storage, and equipment available.

Transport and storage

You must make sure that during transport to, and storage at, the place of destination, the consignment is:

  • Not tampered with or subject to any alteration or change of packaging
  • Closed and sealed properly to reduce the risk of pest infestation and contamination

Staff must be available to present the consignment for inspection and the consignment must not leave the place of destination before the competent authority decides whether the import passes its document, identity and physical checks. It is anticipated that when carrying out the pre-notification of the consignment’s arrival you will state when it will be available for inspection and there will then be a set time period within which an inspection can be carried out. If missed, you will be informed whether the goods can be released or must wait for inspection.


Inspectors must have access to a safe, demarcated area on site to conduct the inspection and there must be systems for safe working in place. The demarcated area can be a temporary set up, but growers should be conscious about ensuring separation from other plants to prevent any biosecurity risks from spreading.

Suitable equipment for the type and volume of physical inspection required must be available, including:

  • Handling equipment to enable regulated material to be unloaded or loaded as necessary
  • An inspection table
  • An adequate light source
  • Equipment to enable fumigant gas testing for forestry sector consignments
  • Access to toilets and handwashing facilities for inspectors

How to register as a place of destination

To act as a place of destination you need to register as a professional operator.

  • For plants and plant products you can do this with the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA).
  • You will need to complete a place of destination registration form and email it to UE9EUmVnaXN0cmF0aW9uc0BhcGhhLmdvdi51aw==
  • Information is required on premise type, business activity, commodities handled, number of consignments per week, and the origin of material.
  • As the Place of Destination checks replace the ‘place of first arrival’ scheme which ran from January 2020, companies that are currently registered on this scheme will be contacted directly by APHA.

For wood and timber products you must register with the Forestry Commission.

If you need to move goods onward from the first place of destination after their import checks, you may require a plant passport. From 1 January 2021, regulated plants and plant products moving within Great Britain will need a UK Plant Passport (UK PP), to replace the current EU Plant Passports (EU PPs). Northern Ireland will continue to use the EU Plant Passport system.

Further information

For more information on place of destination requirements from 1 January 2021, click here to visit the Gov.uk website.

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