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Plant Passports – Part Two

(continued from Part One)

HM Customs & Excise are equally unhelpful. Their website reminds us that non-food plants are subject to VAT, so if you have the temerity to bring a wee cutting of the Bird of Paradise back to the UK after your brief sojourn in Spain you must declare it and pay the duty or face the consequences. Mind you, it would be a useful diversion if you had half a distillery in your hand luggage.

Apart from that, HM C&E, responding to a search for “plants”, seem obsessed with the movement of cannabis. Ever the critic, I’d have to say, as far as providing information for innocent souls wanting to take plants abroad, they’ve made a hash of it.

Failing miserably with gov.uk, I felt smugly confident that I’d find the necessary info on the Scottish Office website. Those of you who are aware of my politics will appreciate how much these next few lines pain me…

A search for “plant” on the Scottish Exec site offered “abattoir plant, EC rules for…”, “construction plant, EC Health and Safety Regulations for…”, and “fish processing plant, obsolete”. (Sorry, “obsolete” was my synonym for “current regulations”).

A desperate alternative search for “seeds” produced a smothering swathe of GM propaganda.

I logged off in disgust, and retired to lick my wounds, with a wee Ord on standby.

I returned with renewed vigour, and with the optimism which is inevitably spawned by the whiff of a good malt, I checked out the British Tourism website (assuming what goes for what comes in, may also apply to what goes out).

I quote. “There are very few restrictions on what plants may be brought back, contact customs and excise for information.” The bad grammar, ignorance of upper case, and general unhelpfulness are © visitscotland.com, and nothing to do with me. Likewise the direction to HM C&E, which as noted above, is as useful as Alex McLeish’s notebook in a “time to sub de Boer” scenario.

The Kew Gardens website is well worth a visit for any horticulture buff, and the last word comes from there.

According to Kew, “any plant material specified by orders under the Plant Health Act 1967 must first be quarantined for at least a growing season…”

Sadly, my best search efforts have so far failed to establish exactly what is specified by the Plant Health Act 1967.

Clarkie’s Conclusion

1. The Plant Passport system applies only to commercial transactions within the horticultural trade. So forget it.

2. The “for personal use” philosophy appears to apply in this case – a few plants should raise no eyebrows.

3. Neither the UK government nor the EC have actually addressed the question of individuals moving plants within the EU, as part of their personal possessions, hence no rules can be found.

4. As soon as they wake up, red tape will be introduced by the mile, so shift your plants now!

5. If you’re challenged, challenge back. On what grounds? And whatever they tell you, tell me. This topic has only just begun!

And a post scriptum –

If you have experienced problems importing or exporting plants (on a personal, not commercial, basis), please let me know via the Forum. My (lengthy) investigations suggest a big can of worms. And I feel a campaign coming on…
© Mike Clark 2004

PG Author: Mike Clark

Mike discovered the joys of horticulture when, as a small child, he overheard a neighbour say she'd dropped a sixpence in the tattie patch. He has been digging ever since, with the tenacity of a true Scot, hoping one day to find a fiver. Despite now running his own landscape gardening business, Mike claims to be permanently broke, due in part to his quest for fame resulting in writing gardening columns for free. He likes trees, Jack Russells, and 12 year old Glen Ord, but not necessarily in that order. Gifts of any of these can be sent c/o britishexpat.com, but he would like to point out that the third item is by far the easiest and cheapest to post. One of the highlights of his life was winning a toilet brush in a raffle. He persevered with it for ages, but he's back on the paper now... Mike approaches gardening and writing with exactly the same formula. Throw in plenty of manure, and something good will eventually spring up.

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