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Importing plants and seeds from non-EU countries

When plants and plant products are imported to the EU, there is a risk that quarantine pests come with them. Quarantine pests are serious plant pests like insects, mites, nematodes, fungi, bacteria, virus and similar organisms that have no or limited presence in the EU and that may cause large financial consequences if they spread here.

EU countries have common rules on the import of plants and plant products from non-EU countries. These rules apply to both private individuals and to companies. However, there are certain exceptions for private individuals. There are also exceptions for scientific purposes, and you can read about those further down this page.

Certain plants must not be brought to the EU

Some plants and plant products involve such large risks that you must not import them at all from certain countries or regions in the world. This is true for conifers, vines, citrus plants, several fruit trees and berry bushes, and most species of grass.

Other plants may only be brought to the EU if they are prepared for winter, like roses, certain fruit trees and other broadleaved trees. On the other hand, you may often import fruits and seeds of species even if import of the entire plant is prohibited.

From most non-EU countries, potato plants like tomatoes or angels' trumpets must not be brought to the EU with the intention of planting them here. Imports of potatoes are also strictly regulated.

You may not bring soil and other organic growing media, except pure peat, from most non-EU countries.

The main rule is phytosanitary certificate

The main rule is that you need a phytosanitary certificate when you bring plants and many plant products and some seeds from a non-EU country. The phytosanitary certificate ensures that the plant is free from quarantine pests. You need a phytosanitary certificate for all plants that can be cultivated, like entire plants, cuttings, grafts, bulbs, tubers, and rhizomes. You also need a phytosanitary certificate for many seeds, like sweet pepper, sunflower and tomato as well as for certain fruits and cut flowers.

You also need a phytosanitary certificate for wood that is not very processed, as well as for wood chips, residues and firewood. This is especially true for conifers, but some broadleaved trees are also comprised by this requirement. The rules on import of bark from conifers and certain broadleaved trees are complicated, and you are welcome to contact us for more information.

With few exceptions you also need a phytosanitary certificate for soil and growing media accompanying plants.

The requirements for importing a plant or a plant product to the EU can vary a lot depending on the phytosanitary risks involved. Please contact us if you are uncertain.

What is a phytosanitary certificate?

A phytosanitary certificate is a document that the plant protection service in the country of export issues after having inspected the plant or plant products concerned and found them to be free from quarantine pests. In some cases, additional conditions must be complied with. The phytosanitary certificate shows that the goods fulfil the importing country's requirements regarding freedom from quarantine pests.

Please contact the Plant Protection Service in the country of export in order to obtain a phytosanitary certificate issued for a plant or plant product to be imported to the EU.

The Board of Agriculture inspects imported plants and plant products

When the plants arrive in the EU, the plant protection service of the importing country checks the plants and the phytosanitary certificate. In order for the plants to be permitted to enter the EU, they must be healthy and the phytosanitary certificate must not be older than 14 days. If the goods do not comply with these requirements, the plant protection service may refuse entry or have the goods destroyed.

If the goods are imported directly to Sweden, the Board of Agriculture handles the inspection of plants and plant products from non-EU countries. If this is to work smoothly, you need to notify one of our regional offices in writing no later than at 10 o´clock on the working day before the estimated day of arrival.

Please contact the regional office closest to where the goods will cross into Sweden.

Additional rules that affect imports to Sweden and the EU

Below we give a brief overview of the various regulations. For more information, please contact us.

Scientific purpose

You can apply for an exception to the phytosanitary certificate requirement or the ban on import of certain plants, plant products, soil and quarantine pests if you need them for work on varieties, trials or other scientific activities. The form you need for applying for an exception to the import requirements is in the right-hand column.

You need an import licence for certain pests

Organisms from the plant or animal kingdom, mycoplasma or other organisms that can cause disease or other harm to plants must not be brought to Sweden unless you have a licence from the Board of Agriculture. You can apply for such a licence on the form in the right-hand column.

Plants taken from the wild

You need a licence from the Board of Agriculture if you want to bring wild plants or their seeds to the EU. Please find the form in the right-hand column. Also note that you should check whether or not the plants belong to an endangered species. More information about endangered plants is available in the right-hand column.

Import of ware potatoes

You may only import ware potatoes from the following non-EU countries: Algeria, Egypt (certain disease-free areas only), Israel, Libya, Switzerland, Syria, Turkey and Tunisia. In other words, it is illegal to import ware and industrial potatoes from Norway. This import ban also applies to the US and Canada. Potatoes from a non-EU country needs a phytosanitary certificate.

Import of seed potatoes

There is only one non-EU country that you may bring seed potatoes from, and that is Switzerland. Such potatoes need to be certified and have a phytosanitary certificate. You need to notify the import to the Board of Agriculture.

For more information about importing seeds, please contact us.

Import of hemp

Special rules apply to imports of hemp and hemp seed. Please contact us for more information.

Import of seedborne seed

The rules are not quite the same for import of seed from agricultural crops, vegetables or decorative plants. What plants go into what category is stated in the Seed ordinance ("utsädesförordningen"). The rules also depend on if you import seed for your personal use or commercially. Seed of agricultural plans may only be sold if it complies with the requirements in the EU decision on equivalence of seeds from non-EU countries.

For some kinds of seed you need a phytosanitary certificate when you import them to the EU. Such seed must be notified to the Board of Agriculture.

Rules on endangered species

In addition to plant protection rules, there are rules intended to preserve endangered species. You can find more information about this in the right-hand column.
Last updated: 2013-12-11