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How plants proved a growth business for this importer

Credit: Friends or Friends
Credit: Friends or Friends

Promotional feature from HM Government

Businesses that bring plants and plant products into Great Britain from the European Union are adapting to new rules that came into effect from 1 January 2021. Here’s how one business got up to speed…

Friends or Friends is an online destination for exotic and interesting baby plants. Founded by Silver and Matt Spence, the business aims to “redefine relationships” with plants and the botanical world, from ornamental to therapeutic. They sell a wide variety of stock, imported from countries across the EU such as Germany, Poland, Italy, the Netherlands and Denmark.

As more people looked to spruce up their living space whilst working remotely during the pandemic, sales took off and the business made impressive progress in its first year.

As demand increased, so did the need to import from overseas suppliers. The business sells products ranging from pineapple plants, to ferns, to rubber trees, and needed to adapt to the new rules that apply to traders importing regulated plants and plant products from the EU.

“Having been in the houseplant industry, direct from grower to buyer, I was aware of what had to happen and what the consequences could have potentially been,” Silver Spence told Yahoo Finance.

The San Diego-born businesswoman added that “it made a difference that we were prepared and having conversations with our teams and suppliers.”

The regulations cover not only plants, but fruit, vegetables, cut flowers, trees and agricultural machinery.

These regulations have been in place for high-priority plants and plant products such as pineapple plants, ferns, and rubber trees since 1 January 2021, and were extended to additional regulated plants and plant products, including fruit and vegetables, from 1 January 2022.

Businesses, or a representative acting on their behalf, bringing in plants and plant products from the EU may now need to pre-notify authorities that their consignment will be entering Great Britain. This can be done on a relevant IT system.

Businesses that are new to the process of pre-notifying plants and plant products from 1 January 2022, should register for and use the IT system IPAFFS. Importers who are currently using the PEACH IT system for pre-notifications should continue to do so until directed to move to IPAFFS during the course of 2022.

Credit: Friends or Friends
Credit: Friends or Friends

When asked what advice she would give to businesses that bring in plants from the EU, Spence said the following:

“I feel really lucky that I had already imported plants from Thailand and other countries, because that educated me on what I could expect now that the EU has similar rules.

“Although the changes were impactful as expected, it was good that we were prepared."

Further import requirements will be introduced for regulated plants and plant products from 1 July 2022, when these goods will require a phytosanitary certificate and will be subject to remote documentation checks. They may also be subject to identity and physical checks at an authorised Border Control Post or Control Point.

To find out more about the new rules for importing plants and plant products, go to

The information in this article was correct at the time of publication

Read more in our Post Brexit Trade section on Yahoo Finance