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Plants, potatoes, and seeds - GBA remind travellers of import restrictions

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Thursday 08 September 2022

Since new customs requirements came into play in Guernsey in January 2021, the Guernsey Border Agency (GBA) has been working hard to implement and enforce the new rules at our borders.

Through this work, officers have noted that there are some areas which are still causing some confusion among people travelling in and out of our community.

The customs changes, which came about as a result of Brexit, and the formation of a new Customs Union with the UK, impacted the importations of goods from the EU, and saw new rules implemented regarding which agri-food products (food, animals and plant material) could be brought between France (and the rest of the EU) and the Bailiwick.

The primary area of confusion appears to be with 'agri-food products', such as potatoes. While potatoes are a food, as they can also be used as a seed, they are restricted.

So while currently there is no limit on the importation of food providing it is for personal use, 'high priority' plants and plant material from the EU, including potatoes, must be accompanied by a phytosanitary certificate which is issued by the originating country.

Matt Brehaut, Senior Investigation Officer, said:

"In the last 18 months we have seen a number of people returning to the island from France with plants and plant material, including potatoes, which we have had to confiscate because of the new rules on plants and seeds. While there are not any restrictions on importing food at the moment, potatoes are categorised as a seed, and thus a high priority plant'. This means that if people need to import their potatoes, they must get a phytosanitary certificate to accompany them.

"While we have been working to implement the new rules of the customs union, we are also working to ensure these rules are as clear as they can be for the community. We have produced leaflets in both French and English which explain each area, and have recently produced an animation which will be played at the ports to help explain the key facts around the new customs requirements."

The complete list of 'high priority plants' and plant material can be found here.

The Animal & Plant Health Inspector must also be notified (01481 221161) prior to importation and the items will be subject to documentary and identity checks on arrival in Guernsey.

The GBA have reported that they still regularly see the following items imported without the required certificates:

Officers are continuing to work with the travel operators to remind passengers of these rules prior to their trip. Signs and bins are also provided at the ports so that plants and plant material that fall within these definitions that are not accompanied by a phytosanitary certificate can be voluntarily disposed of. If designated plants / plant material are not accompanied by the relevant certificate and are not voluntarily disposed of then they will be subject to seizure and destruction and must be declared to Customs at the time of arrival into the Bailiwick.

The types and volumes of agri-food products that can be imported to Guernsey from the EU are subject to further change by the end of 2023, and media updates and information on the States of Guernsey website will be provided so that passengers are pre-warned and prepared. Until this time, the summary booklet for what you need to know before you travel can be found here.

Full information regarding customs requirements can be found on www.gov.gg/gba or by contacting the Guernsey Border Agency on 01481 221431 or customsandexcise@gba.gov.gg.

The below video explains this further:

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