Can I take plants and seeds to France after Brexit?
PUBLISHED: 15:13 22 January 2021 | UPDATED: 14:40 28 January 2021
You can no longer transfer plants from your UK garden to your French property, but can you take garden centre-bought plants to France?
Due to Brexit, the UK is now subject to strict rules to prevent pests and diseases entering the EU. In the past, British owners of French property were able to transfer plants from their gardens in the UK to gardens in France (or vice versa) but this is now forbidden.
Soil and other substrates are strictly prohibited, as are vine plants, citrus fruit plants and seed potatoes, even if they have been bought from a UK garden centre.
Technically speaking, other plants and plant matter, including cuttings, bulbs, seeds, cut flowers, firewood, fruit* and vegetables are allowed as long as they are presented to inspectors at the French border and come with a phytosanitary certificate, proving their provenance and that they are do not pose a risk to France.
However, in practice, you might find it’s not worth the cost and hassle of getting this paperwork.
To apply for a phytosanitary certificate, start by contacting your relevant plant health authority in England, Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland.
You’ll be asked to register with the Government’s plant health IT service edomero.The fee is £25.52 per certificate. But an inspector may have to visit you, costing £63.80 for each 15 minutes and subejct to a minimum
fee of £127.60. It’s also possible that laboratory tests will need to be done, costing £33.56.
If forms have been filled in correctly, it should be possible to issue certificates within a week, said a Defra spokesman. They will then be posted by Royal Mail first class.
The regulations will apply to items sent by post and will also apply in the other direction. In the past, British horticultural fans would go to plant festivals at Chantilly and St-Jean-de-Beauregard, near Paris, on garden tours and holidays, bringing choice specimens home to the UK. Unfortunately, this will no longer be feasible without considerable bureaucracy.
Even wholesale growers are struggling, with many UK nurseries and seed companies stopping wholesale export to Europe because of the cost of paperwork and checks.
Lynda Harris, a landscape architect based in France, said: “I guess we French gardeners will now be buying plants from French nurseries and seed suppliers instead and there are lots of good ones, On the positive side. the new rules may slow the transfer of plant diseases between continental Europe and the UK.They are getting more and more plant diseases in the UK from imported material, one example is Xylella. Some come in on timber for the building trade, or on plant material that has a certificate, but Monty Don is always telling us not to import seeds or plant material, and he is probably right!”
For more information on what you can and can’t take into the EU as well as information on driving and taking pets to France, see What are the rules for travelling to France after Brexit?
* Bananas, coconuts, pineapples, dates and durian fruit do not require a phytoasanitary certificate