Can I bring plants from my UK garden in the car to France when I come next? I'm UK resident with a second home in France. Out of interest is it also possible the other way?
No, unfortunately it is not possible to bring in plants for planting from the UK to France, due to the EU’s plant health laws on bringing items from outside the EU.
As explained in this EU video, these laws were last toughened in December 2019, to ensure that plant products are free from pests and diseases and in line with EU plant health requirements.
EU regulation 2019/2072 lists both ‘growing medium attached to plants’ and ‘plants for planting’ as requiring a phytosanitary certificate for import to the EU from all ‘third countries, other than Switzerland’.
It specifies that this includes ‘bulbs, tubers, tuberous roots, corms, crowns and rhizomes, dormant, in growth or in flower’ as well as ‘other live plants, including their roots, cuttings and slips’.
The same regulation also bans the import of most kinds of fresh cut flower, fruits and vegetables, with a few exceptions including pineapples, bananas, coconuts, durians and dates.
A UK government advisor from the Animal and Plant Health Agency stated that plant certificates for export must be obtained by registering on a website in the first instance, then a local plant health inspector will visit and examine the goods, for a fee.
It is suited rather to commercial exports rather than individuals taking items in their car.
An advisor at the British Florist Association said most kinds of cut flower would be concerned, apart from dried ones.
We also spoke to Suttons, a large British supplier of plants and seeds, which stated it cannot send any plants or anything with soil attached to customers in the EU but so far has had no issues with sending packets of seeds.
Similar rules apply in the France to UK direction. The regime for coming into the UK is slightly relaxed before April this year, but not for plants for planting.
The UK government states that as of January 1, 2021 'all plants for planting' require a phytosanitary certificate, pre-notification submitted by the importer and a physical inspection on arrival.
A tougher regime on plant import from the EU then begins from April 1, including cut flowers, root and tuber vegetables, most common fruits unless deep-frozen, some seeds, plus leafy vegetables unless frozen.
The UK states that certificates will not be needed for processed and packaged items like packaged salads, sandwiches and frozen goods, or processed goods including plant material such as nut or seed butters.
As with the EU, a few fruits will also be exempt, such as coconuts, dates and pineapples.