How to Import Plants into the UK

Importing plants into the UK in 2024 is subject to strict regulations aimed at preventing the introduction and spread of harmful pests and diseases. 

The new Biosecurity and Trade of Organisms and Materials (BTOM) regulations further refine these processes, integrating lessons learned from previous frameworks and aligning more closely with global environmental and health standards. This article explores the context, details, and implications of these new regulations for importers and stakeholders in the botanical sector.

Clear Fr8 are able to assist with all horticultural imports, call our team for more info!

Understanding BTOM Regulations

The BTOM regulations were introduced as a part of the UK's ongoing effort to enhance biosecurity post-Brexit. They replace and expand upon the earlier framework, aligning domestic law with international standards, such as those set by the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC). The BTOM's primary goal is to mitigate the risks posed by imported plants and plant materials, including seeds, cuttings, and soil, which might carry pests or diseases not native to the UK.

Key Provisions of the BTOM Regulations

The BTOM regulations outline specific requirements that must be met by businesses and individuals looking to import plant-based materials into the UK:

  1. Pre-Import Requirements: Importers must ensure that their goods are compliant with UK standards before arrival. This includes securing a phytosanitary certificate from the country of origin, which confirms that the plant products are free from specified pests and meet the health standards required by the UK.

  2. Inspection and Quarantine: Upon arrival, plants are subjected to inspections by biosecurity officers. High-risk plants may require quarantine under controlled conditions to ensure they do not pose a threat to UK flora.

  3. Documentation and Traceability: Detailed records of plant imports must be maintained, including the species, origin, and destination of the plants. This traceability helps manage outbreaks by quickly identifying and isolating affected areas.

  4. Compliance and Penalties: The BTOM regulations set out strict penalties for non-compliance, ranging from fines to criminal prosecution. Regular audits and spot checks are conducted to ensure ongoing adherence to the regulations.

Impact on Importers

For importers, the new regulations necessitate a more rigorous approach to sourcing and documentation. The costs associated with compliance, such as obtaining the necessary certificates and potentially paying for quarantine spaces, could increase operational expenses. However, these costs are balanced against the need to protect the UK’s diverse native ecosystems and agricultural industries from potentially devastating exotic pests and diseases.

Environmental Considerations

The BTOM regulations also reflect a growing awareness of the environmental impact of global trade in plants. By controlling the movement of potentially invasive species, the UK aims to preserve its biodiversity and protect natural habitats. This approach is in line with global environmental policies that prioritize ecological stability and the prevention of biodiversity loss.

Challenges and Opportunities

The implementation of the BTOM regulations presents both challenges and opportunities:

  • Challenge: One of the major challenges is the potential delay in the import process, which can affect the viability of plant products, especially those that are perishable.
  • Opportunity: The regulations may encourage importers to source plants from domestic growers, potentially boosting the UK’s horticultural industry. Additionally, improved plant health and biosecurity can lead to higher quality and more resilient plant products entering the market.

As the UK continues to refine its biosecurity measures, ongoing dialogue between the government, importers, and environmental groups will be essential. Updates and adjustments to the BTOM regulations may be necessary as new threats emerge and as the global trade environment evolves.

The BTOM regulations represent a significant step forward in the UK's biosecurity strategy. While they pose certain challenges for importers, the long-term benefits of these regulations in protecting the UK's agricultural and natural resources are substantial. Importers must adapt to these changes, but they will ultimately contribute to a safer, more sustainable trade in plants. By embracing these regulations, the UK reinforces its commitment to protecting its borders and biodiversity from global threats.


  • Phyto certificate
  • Bill of Lading
  • Packing List
  • Commercial Invoice
  • Peach Registration