How to Import Fresh Cut Flowers into the UK

The UK's vibrant floral market captivates hearts and senses with its kaleidoscope of colours and aromatic fragrances. Whether you're a seasoned trader or a budding entrepreneur, the allure of importing flowers promises exciting opportunities, but it also presents a labyrinth of regulations and intricacies. Fear not, intrepid importer! This comprehensive guide will equip you with the knowledge and resources to navigate the world of flower imports to the UK, empowering you to bloom in this flourishing market.

1. Understanding the Landscape:

Before diving headfirst, understanding the UK's floral import landscape is crucial. Here's a crash course:

  • EU vs. Non-EU Imports: Following Brexit, regulations differ depending on the source country. EU imports face simplified procedures, while non-EU imports demand stricter checks and documentation.
  • High, Medium, and Low Risk: Plants are categorized based on their potential to harbor pests and diseases. This impacts the level of checks and certificates required.
  • Key Regulatory Bodies: The Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) and the Scottish Government’s Science and Advisory Services (SASA) are the gatekeepers, ensuring compliant imports.

2. Essential Regulatory Requirements:

Now, let's delve into the nitty-gritty:

- Registration: If you're a first-time importer, register with APHA/SASA to obtain an importer reference number.

- Phytosanitary Certificates: These official documents, issued by the exporting country's plant health authority, certify the flowers' freedom from pests and diseases.

- Pre-Notification: For high and medium-risk imports, notify APHA/SASA about your consignment's arrival via their online portals, uploading relevant documents.

- Import Declaration: Submit a completed C88 form electronically declaring your consignment's details, including type of flowers, value, and risk category.

- Customs Clearance: Pay any applicable customs duties and taxes once your consignment arrives at a designated Border Control Point (BCP).

3. Navigating the Logistics:

Importing fresh cut flowers isn't just about paperwork; robust logistics are key:

- Sourcing Suppliers: Research reputable growers/exporters offering high-quality blooms at competitive prices. Consider factors like sustainability, fair trade practices, and pest management protocols.

- Transportation: Choose the most appropriate transport method based on distance, speed, and flower type. Airfreight guarantees swiftness but is costlier, while seafreight is economical but slower. Ensure proper temperature and humidity control during transport to prevent wilting.

- Customs Agents: Consider enlisting the expertise of a customs agent, especially for complex import procedures. They can navigate clearance formalities and minimize delays.

4. Staying Ahead of the Game:

The fresh cut flower market is dynamic, and knowledge is your power. Regularly check government websites for updates on regulations, pest alerts, and seasonal restrictions. Utilize resources like the UK Customs' "Importing Plants, Fruits and Vegetables" webpage and APHA/SASA's "Plant Health Portal" for up-to-date guidance.

5. Building a Thriving Business:

Beyond compliance, establishing a successful fresh cut flower import business requires savvy strategies:

- Identify Your Niche: Specialize in unique or seasonal varieties to differentiate yourself from the competition.

- Build Strong Relationships: Foster trusting partnerships with suppliers and distributors to ensure consistent supply and quality.

- Embrace Marketing: Utilize digital platforms and effective branding to showcase your flower offerings and connect with potential buyers.

6. Resources and Support:

Don't go it alone! Utilize these valuable resources:

  • Defra Plant Health & Seeds Division: Provides comprehensive information on importing plants and plant products.
  • Federation of Wholesale Distributors (FWD): Represents UK flower importers and wholesalers, offering guidance and networking opportunities.
  • Freshcut Flowers & Plants Information Network (FCFPIN): A trade association providing industry news, market research, and events.

Importing fresh cut flowers into the UK presents both challenges and exciting possibilities. By diligently navigating the regulations, embracing best practices, and building a sound business strategy, you can cultivate a flourishing floral import business in the heart of the blooming British market. Remember, knowledge is your fertilizer, perseverance your sunshine, and passion your water – go forth and make your floral dreams bloom!


Note: This guide is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Consult with legal and trade professionals for specific guidance on Flowers into the UK.


  • Certificate of Origin
  • Packing List
  • Bill of lading
  • Commercial Invoice
  • Customs Clearance