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Importing wood material from non-EU countries

Regulated wood material must meet Great Britain landing requirements to prevent the introduction of harmful pests. Depending on the species a number of phyto-sanitary requirements must be met and verified by a phyto-sanitary certificate issued in the country of export.

Registering for trading in controlled material

Imports of regulated material must undergo a plant health inspection upon arrival before being released. The importer or their agent must be registered with us and notify us in advance of landing.


Once the material lands in Great Britain it becomes the importer's responsibility. To avoid difficulties, delays or financial loss caused by breach of the landing requirements, we strongly advise that you or your agent include a clause in the supplier's contract to ensure that the landing requirements are met, and binding them to meet any costs incurred as a result of their failure to do so.

Intention to land

The importer or their appointed agent must complete a Notice of Landing form. Relevant material may not be landed unless advance notice of at least four working hours is given to an inspector for air cargo, and three working days for any other case.

Notification of landing is a statutory requirement, and failure to comply may result in a fine, and will almost certainly result in a delay in clearing your consignment.

Import documents

An importer must present to an inspector, within three days of the material landing, the relevant import documentation, except in the case of material imported by post, where certificate(s) must be fixed to the outside of the package.

Each consignment must be accompanied by either a phytosanitary certificate or a phytosanitary certificate and a phytosanitary certificate for re-export, or an industry or mill certificate. The Customs document relating to each consignment of relevant material must include:

  • a statement that it contains produce of phytosanitary relevance;
  • the reference number of the phytosanitary certificate, phytosanitary certificate for re-export or the industry certificate; and
  • the registration number of the importer.

Phytosanitary certificates

These certificates state that the controlled material:

    • has been officially inspected in the country of origin (or country of dispatch);
    • complies with statutory requirements for entry into the EU;
    • is free from quarantine pests and disease; and
    • is substantially free from other harmful organisms. 

Phytosanitary certificates for re-export

These are required if, after a phytosanitary certificate has been issued in the country of origin, the consignment is stored, re-packed or split up in another third country before being exported to the EU.

Industry and mill certificates

Under arrangements agreed between the EU and the plant protection organisations in Canada and the United States, derogations have been adopted which allow for the use of industry and mill certificates, instead of phytosanitary certificates, for kiln-dried and heat treated material.

Plant health inspection

All imports of regulated material must be inspected and cleared by a plant health inspector. These inspections are entirely independent of any physical checks which HMRC might undertake.

Plant health inspectors usually operate Monday–Friday, 9am–5pm. Our objective is to undertake inspection of goods either on the day we are notified that they are ready for examination, or on the next working day. You should aim to provide as much notice as possible if you wish your goods to be cleared quickly. Customs clearance cannot be given until satisfactory completion of the plant health inspection.

Point of entry

Plant health checks are made at approved points of entry into Great Britain. To gain approved status, a port or airport authority must provide certain minimum conditions necessary to ensure that inspections can be carried out efficiently and safely and, in the event that it becomes necessary, that relevant material can also be treated or destroyed.

Key points are that:

    • for containerised material, it takes time for port operators to bring material forward for inspection, open the container doors and conduct fumigant gas checks etc;
    • port operators will charge for these services; and
    • inspectors will only perform inspections if it is safe to do so.

 Approved places inland

Plant health legislation provides for approved traders to gain Forestry Commission and HMRC clearance at inland inspection premises instead of at a point of entry.

Eligibility for approved premises status depends on the ability of the applicant to meet certain minimum standards set independently by HMRC and the Forestry Commission. We require a safe working environment for inspectors, with adequate lighting and space to look at every piece of material, if required. In the absence of gas checking facilities supported by trained operators for containerised material, the inspector is likely to insist that containers be devanned at the importer’s risk and cost.

Key points are that:

    • eligible sites must conform with HMRC’s definition of ‘temporary storage area’. There will be a cost associated with becoming approved as a ‘temporary storage area’, and you should discuss the implications of this directly with HMRC;
    • eligible sites must meet our plant health requirements; and
    • approved places of inspection will be subject to an annual review by us, and will be chargeable. 

Documentary, identity and plant health checks

Inspections are required to determine whether:

    • the consignment or lot is accompanied by the required certificates, alternative documents or marks, and that these are properly completed (documentary check);
    • in its entirety or on one or more representative samples, the consignment or lot consists of or contains the wood, wood products or other objects as declared on the required documents (identity check);
    • in its entirety or on one or more representative samples, including the packaging and, where appropriate, the transport vehicles, the consignment or lot, or their wood packaging material, comply with the requirements laid down in the Plant Health Directive (plant health check). 

Documentary check

The inspector will examine the relevant document to ensure it complies with the regulations. Subject to agreement between EU Member States it is possible for consignments to be subjected to a documentary check only in the Member State of first entry into the EU, with the identity and physical checks being carried out in the Member State of destination. This must be arranged in advance ,and the customs and plant health authorities in both Member States must agree this arrangement, either on a case-by-case basis or on general terms (e.g. for one kind of commodity, or a named importer).

The person responsible for the consignment in the Member State of first entry into the EU must complete a plant health movement document in the form set out in Schedule 13 Part B of the Order. Before inspection of the relevant material when it arrives in Great Britain, you must be in receipt of a Plant Health Movement document, otherwise the material will not be released.

Identity checks

All imports of wood and wood products must meet certain identification requirements. The material must agree with the description given in the documentation accompanying it (e.g. phytosanitary certificate or officially approved industry certificate, ship’s manifest or shipping specification sheets) so that it cannot be confused with any other material. For example, lot or bill of landing numbers on the packs must be listed on the phytosanitary or industry certificate.

Plant health checks

The inspector will carry out an examination of a representative sample of the consignment to ensure it complies with the appropriate special requirements, for example, that, if necessary, it is bark-free or has been treated in some way (e.g. kiln dried). If the wood has been kiln dried or heat treated, it must be clearly marked with ‘KD’ or ‘HT’ or another internationally recognised mark.

Un-identified genera

Any wood, including wood packaging material or dunnage, of unidentified genera will be subject to control at the discretion of an inspector.

Wrong volume declared

It is a statutory requirement that phytosanitary certificates accurately describe the volume of material to which they relate. Sometimes certificates declare types of wood which are not subject to inspection. Where it is possible to identify from the certificate the volume and identity/lot numbers of material, we will not demand a fee for that part of the consignment. However, if it is not possible to segregate uncontrolled goods, we will need to inspect the whole consignment and will charge a fee accordingly.

Inspection fees

Unless special arrangements have been made for payment, the person or organisation notifying us of the need for an inspection, or presenting the phytosanitary certificate(s) to us, will be held responsible for the payment of fees. Inspection payment must be received before a Certificate of Clearance (PHF28) can be issued.

Fee payment options

Inspection fees include separate charges for documentary, identity and plant health checks.

Documentary checks

Per consignment - £7.20

Identity checks For each load of up to 30m3 forming part of the consignment contained in one truck, railway wagon, or comparable container.

Per consignment - £7.20

Identity checks for bulk loads

Less than 100m3 - £7.20

100m3 or more - £14.40

Plant health checks Per consignment of wood (Other than in the form of shavings, chips or sawdust).

Up to 100m3 - £31.20

Each additional m3 or part thereof - £0.25

Reduced Frequency of Inspection Plant health checks* of Acer saccharum (hard maple, sugar maple or rock maple).

Up to 100m3 originating in Canada - £23.40

For each additional m3 or part thereof originating in Canada - £0.20

Plant health checks Per consignment of isolated bark and wood in the form of shavings, chips or sawdust

Up to 25,000kg _ £31.20

Each additional 1,000kg or part thereof - £0.49

Maximum price - £98

*Goods can be subjected to reduced levels of physical inspection which are set by the European Commission and are based on risk, i.e. on a random sample of consignments rather than each one.

Where inspections are permitted at ‘approved places inland’ a fee of £30 (based on an average 1.5 hours' additional travel required to perform an inland inspection) is payable in addition to the fees detailed above.

Certificate of clearance (PHF28)

On satisfactory completion of the inspection, the inspector will issue a certificate of clearance (Form PHF28), which you must present to HMRC together with the normal customs entry declaration. You must also declare that the consignment contains produce of phytosanitary relevance.

Inspection fail – remedial action

If the landing requirements have not been met you will be required to take remedial action. The inspector may also take samples from the material for analysis at Forest Research. Where this is considered necessary, a Statutory Notice will be served prohibiting the removal of the consignment while remedial action or tests are completed.

Any remedial work, which may involve destruction, re-export or treatment, must be carried out to our specification and satisfaction, and under our surveillance. We will charge for this additional monitoring work. In certain instances, for example where the work required has not been carried out by the due date, we may do the work itself, or contract another person to do it and charge accordingly. Where treatment of the material is appropriate, we will not issue a Certificate of Clearance (PHF28) until we are satisfied that the material has been treated to the required specification, and poses no further risk to plant health.

Charge for remedial work

Due to the variable factors involved (for example, the size of consignment, the volume affected, and the type of remedial treatment required) the charge is time based.

1st hour, including travelling and office time - £37

Each 15 minutes or part thereof thereafter -£9.25

If office time is required after a site visit - £9.25

We aim to keep this cost to a minimum by remaining on site only long enough to ensure that treatment is being carried out properly and to its specification. However, it will be necessary to inspect the material on completion of the treatment to ensure that it has been effective. The visits will, where possible, be planned to coincide with the notified timing of treatment. It will be important, therefore, to ensure that the Forestry Commission is kept informed of any changes to agreed arrangements. The fee for this monitoring work becomes due on completion of the remedial work and must be paid before a Certificate of Clearance is issued. Alternatively, you will be issued with an invoice which you may pay through your credit account, if you have one, or by cash or cheque.


A person can be guilty of a range of offences under the Order e.g. making false statements to procure a phytosanitary certificate. The full range of offences can be found in Part 9 of the Order. If you are found guilty of an offence under the Order you shall be liable on summary conviction of a fine up to £5,000.

Last updated: 30th December 2017