To minimise the risk of introduction and spread of harmful pests from Third countries into the European Union, plants and certain plant products are subject to phytosanitary control when imported into the customs territory of the European Union. On some plants, plant products and regulated articles there is even an import ban.
On December the 14th 2019 the Directive 2000/29/EC was replaced by the Regulation (EU) 2016/2031 on protective measures against pests of plants. Due to the implementation of the new phytosanitary provisions, plants and fresh plant products imported into the EU must be accompanied by a phytosanitary certificate (with few exceptions) and have to be applied for phytosanitary import control in Traces NT. More detailed information can be found under the technical notification concerned.
Additional, an import ban from third countries will apply to certain high-risk plants from December the 14th 2019 on. More information can be found in the technical notification concerned.
Please note that the Canary Islands, the French overseas departments and Ceuta and Melilla are Third countries from a phytosanitary point of view and therefore phytosanitary requirements may apply.
For importing plants and plant products following phytosanitary requirements need to be considered:
- Registration for operators by the national phytosanitary service in accordance with Art. 65 of Regulation (EU) 2016/2031
- Phytosanitary certificate and, if applicable, completed additional declaration
- Notification of the consignment in Traces NT
- Phytosanitary import control by the Austrian Plant Protection Service
- Phytosanitary release if the consignment is found to be free from quarantine pests
- Customs clearance
- Fees according to phytosanitary fee tariff
The application for phytosanitary import control in Austria has to be made via TRACES NT at least one working day before arrival of the consignment. Usually this is handled by the forwarding agency or transportation company.
When importing plants or plant products, other laws may also apply, for example the Seed Act or the Species Trade Act (CITES).
Further information can also be found in our FAQs. For enquiries on phytosanitary import control please contact the Official Plant Protection Service (contact).
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The Austrian Federal Office for Food Safety (BAES) is the competent authority for issuing "Letters of Authority" in accordance with Delegated Regulation (EU) 2019/829. For forestry products, the Federal Forest Office is the competent authority.
The specified activities with the imported material must be carried out in "confinement facilities". Approval of these facilities is granted by means of a notice issued by the competent authorities of the federal states (contact persons can be found here).
For further detailed questions, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Each consignment subject to phytosanitary import control must be accompanied by a valid phytosanitary certificate issued by the exporting country.
The phytosanitary certificate must contain information in accordance with the model set out in Annex VIII to Regulation (EU) 2016/2031 and must be issued by the competent authority of the exporting country in accordance to ISPM 12 (International Standard for phytosanitary measures).
Validity criteria include:
- completed in block capitals or in typewritten form (except for stamps and signatures)
- issued in at least one of the official languages of the European Union
- botanical name of the plant in latin characters
- additional declarations, if required
- no unauthorised changes or deletions - unauthorised amendments result in the invalidity of the phytosanitary certificate
- issued not earlier than 14 days before the plants, plant products or other regulated articles left the issuing third country
Pest Risk Assessments
In the course of phytosanitary import controls these express risk assessments allow the competent authority to decide on the risk of a new pest.
In particular, the probability of introduction and spread in Austria and the member states as well as possible economic damage are taken into account.
Official Austrian Plant Protection Service
Tel. +43 (05) 0555 33302 or
Tel. +43 (05) 0555 33317
Here you will find the forms for the import of plants intended for planting, according to the Planting Material Act.
The phytosanitary import control is a phytosanitary inspection of plants and plant products from non-european countries. At the approved EU entry points (ports, airports, border crossings etc.) the phytosanitary import control ensures that goods are free of harmful plant pests.
Phytosanitary import controls ensure that no harmful pests and pathogens such as insects, fungi, bacteria or viruses are introduced into the European Union. Which pests are affected is regulated by law throughout the EU. They are referred to as quarantine pests.
The precondition for international trade in plants for planting and plant products is that they are accompanied by a valid phytosanitary certificate from the exporting country and are subject to official controls.
These pests (also known as Union quarantine pests) do not occur within the European Union or occur only in demarcated areas, under official control. In case of introduction and spread, serious damage to agriculture and forestry in the EU is to be expected. The phytosanitary certificate and the phytosanitary import controls carried out, minimise the risk of these pests being introduced into the European Union.
All plants for planting and plant products are subject to phytosanitary import control. Plants for planting include plants which are either already planted or intended to be replanted. This includes living plant parts such as bulbs, rhizomes, tubers, plant tissue cultures (in vitro cultures) as well as scions and cuttings (also unrooted). Seeds also belong to plants intended for planting.
Plant products include cut flowers, leaves and foliage, fresh fruit and vegetables (including leafy, root and tuber vegetables) and nuts (in the green shell).
The Federal Forest Office is responsible for the regulation of forestry products and wood packaging.
No, only fresh plant parts and products are subject to phytosanitary import controls. However, in case of dried plant parts and products, other laws such as the food law may apply.
According to Annex VI of the Implementing Regulation (EU) 2019/2072, certain plants for planting and plant products from various countries are subject to import bans. These include various coniferous, deciduous and fruit trees, certain sweet grasses, Phoenix palms and various species of solanaceous plants. Under the following link, the Implementing Regulation (EU) 2019/2072 can be accessed in different languages: https://eur-lex.europa.eu/eli/reg_impl/2019/2072/2021-06-24 (Annex VI can be found from page 82 onwards in the PDF document of the Implementing Regulation: List of plants, plant products and other objects whose introduction into the Union from certain third countries is prohibited; Please always use the currently valid version).
A general import ban from all non-EU countries (except Switzerland) applies to plants and plant parts of vines (except fruits) and citrus plants as well as to seed potatoes and soil or growing medium.
There is also a temporary import ban from non-EU countries for high-risk plants according to the Implementing Regulation (EU) 2018/2019. These high-risk plants include, among others, oleander or maple trees.
Due to large areas under cultivation of e.g. wine or potatoes in Europe and the potential economic damage to these crops, the import of these plants and plant parts is prohibited.
High-risk plants under the Implementing Regulation (EU) 2018/2019 are plants that serve as hosts for common pests that would cause major economic and ecological damage if introduced into the European Union.
Maple trees, for example, are a typical pathway of introduction for the citrus long-horned beetle, which is native to East Asia and threatens many deciduous trees, including fruit trees.
The oleander is one of the many host plants of the bacterial disease Xylella fastidiosa. This bacterium was first detected on olive trees in Italy. The subspecies of the bacterium occurring in Apulia led to the death of thousands of hectares of olivetrees and poses a serious threat to olive cultivation in the entire Mediterranean region. About 50 host plants have been confirmed for the subspecies of this bacteria occurring in the EU, many of them Mediterranean woody plants, some of which can also reach Austria in the ornamental plant trade (lavender, rosemary, Italian immortelle and also oleander). In this respect, import bans or very specific import regulations apply to many host plants.
This refers to all countries that are not member states of the European Union. Since the withdrawal on 01.01.2021, England, Wales and Scotland are also considered third countries and are therefore relevant from a phytosanitary point of view.
The Canary Islands, the French overseas departments (e.g. Martinique, Guadeloupe, Réunion), Ceuta and Melilla are also considered third countries from a phytosanitary point of view.
According to Art. 65 of Regulation (EU) 2016/2031, operators who wish to import plants and plant products commercially into the European Union must be registered as importers of plants and plant products in an official register. Registration is carried out by the competent plant protection service of the respective federal state. Contact details can be found on the website of the Plant Protection Service.
Registration is not necessary for private individuals who wish to import plants and plant products solely for their own use. All other phytosanitary import regulations still apply to private individuals.
The phytosanitary import control must take place at the first point of entry in the EU. In Austria, the phytosanitary import control is possible at the airports of Vienna, Linz and Graz.
The consignment must be notified in time (at least one working day before arrival of the consignment) via the EU portal TRACES NT (TRAde Control and Expert System New Technology) for phytosanitary import control. All necessary documents (phytosanitary certificate, commercial invoice and airwaybill) must be uploaded there, so that the documents can be checked by the inspection bodies of the Official Plant Protection Service.
The application for the phytosanitary import control is usually done by the forwarding agency or delivery service responsible for the consignment. It should be noted that not all transport companies offer this service of registration for phytosanitary import control. It is important to know in advance whether the transport company offers this service or not. Otherwise, it may happen that the goods are immediately sent back to the exporting country.
The phytosanitary import control is divided into three sub-checks:
- Documentary checks
- Identity check
- Plant Health check
During the documentary check, the phytosanitary certificate is checked for validity and formal requirements according to ISPM 12 (International Standard for phytosanitary measures No. 12).
During the identity check, the actual quantities of the consignment are compared with the quantities stated on the accompanying phytosanitary certificate and with the other documents, such as commercial invoice and air waybill. The aim of this check is that the consignment is consistent with what is declared on the accompanying documents.
During the plant health check, the plants and plant products are subjected to a visual inspection by a trained and technically competent inspection body.
If harmful organisms are found during this visual inspection samples are taken and tested for Union quarantine pests in the national reference laboratory at the Agency for Health and Food Safety (AGES). In most cases, these are morphological examinations combined with molecular biological examinations to be able to determine the exact pest species.
For certain seed imports (e.g. tomato seed) and planting material, samples are taken of each lot and tests are carried out in the laboratory.
If the laboratory tests reveal the presence of a Union quarantine pest, the retained part is not allowed for import into the EU and must either be returned to the exporting country or destroyed under customs supervision.
Lot means a totality of units of the same type of goods. These types of goods are part of a consignment and are homogeneous in terms of their composition and origin.
No, goods under Article 73 of Regulation (EU) 2016/2031 are only subject to documentary checks. Goods under Article 72 of Regulation (EU) 2016/2031 are also subject to identity and health checks.
According to Implementing Regulation (EU) 2019/2072, the following five fruits are not subject to phytosanitary import requirements and do not need to be accompanied by a phytosanitary certificate: Pineapples, bananas, durian, dates and coconuts.
For the five fruit species pineapple, bananas, durian, dates and coconuts, it was determined on the basis of risk assessments that these fruits pose a low risk of introducing pests. Likewise, no serious economic damage to agriculture is to be expected due to the non-existent or almost non-existent cultivation area in Europe. Such risk assessments are constantly re-evaluated by EU authorities and plant health experts.
No, there are no exemptions regarding the import of small quantities.
The fees depend on the type and quantity of the imported goods. The fees are laid down in the ´Pflanzenschutzgebührentarif´, which is published in the Official Announcements of the Austrian Federal Office for Food Safety (BAES).
No fees are charged for the inspection of goods that fall under Article 73 of Regulation (EU) 2016/2031 which only have to be accompanied by a phytosanitary certificate.
For certain goods, the Planting Material Act, the Seed Law, the Marketing Standards Act, the Species Trade Act or provisions under food law may also be relevant.
For general customs matters and food law provisions, please contact the central customs information office - Zollamt Klagenfurt Villach, e-mail: email@example.com.
The phytosanitary certificate is issued by an inspector who is professionally qualified and authorised by the phytosanitary organisation of the exporting country. This document confirms that the plants and plant products meet the phytosanitary import requirements for an import into the European Union and are free of plant pests.
A phytosanitary certificate must indicate, among other things, the botanical names of the plants or plant products, the origin of the goods, the quantities of each lot, the consignee in the European Union and the date and signature of the competent inspector of the exporting country. For plants and certain plant products, various "additional declarations" have to be stated on the phytosanitary certificate to confirm that the goods are free from plant pests.
Each country has its own models and templates for phytosanitary certificates. However, all phytosanitary certificates must comply with the formal requirements of ISPM 12 (International Standards for phytosanitary measures No.12). ISPM 12 is published in several languages at the following link: https://www.ippc.int/en/publications/609/
The country of dispatch always refers to the country from which the goods are delivered. The country of origin means the country where the plants and plant products were grown, cultivated and/or harvested. The country of origin and the country of dispatch may be identical.
In addition to the necessary requirements for a phytosanitary certificate according to ISPM 12, the goods must have left the exporting country within 14 days after the phytosanitary certificate has been issued. Otherwise, the document will be considered as invalid and the consignment cannot be accepted for import into the European Union.
Yes, a new phytosanitary certificate can be requested from the issuing authority of the exporting country. The precondition is that the new certificate is designated as a "replacement certificate", refers to the number of the original phytosanitary certificate and thus replaces the expired phytosanitary certificate.
The original phytosanitary certificate should accompany the consignment. However, it can also be sent by post or other means.
Yes, the phytosanitary certificate may consist of several pages. In such cases, it is important that the number of the supplementary pages are indicated under the heading "additional declarations" and that the supplementary pages are numbered. Each page must show the number of the phytosanitary certificate and the date and signature of the competent inspector of the exporting country.