Brexit - what happens next & are you ready for changes? - British Florist Association

Brexit – what happens next & are you ready for changes?

Updated 12th January 2021

While Covid-19 had dominated our news there is no getting away with the fact that we have left the EU.

On 24 December 2020, an agreement was reached between the EU and the UK on a new partnership. This agreement sets out the regulations that will apply between the EU and the UK from 1 January 2021. The European Parliament still has to give its assent at the beginning of 2021, but the agreement will be applied provisionally from 1 January 2021

This means no import levies (eliminating the dreaded 8% tariff for EU cut flowers) and no quotas. In spite of this agreement, phytosanitary requirements and customs formalities, such as phytosanitary certificates, import and export declarations and controls on both sides, as well as changes to the VAT levy, will apply from 1st January 2021. 

One thing is very clear and that there will be changes regardless of a deal or not. This doesn’t always mean that you as a florist need to do any paperwork and freeze at the thought but it does mean that you will need to plan ahead, talk to your wholesaler and be prepared that 2021 wont be quite the same. This is not necessarily a negative point but it something you will need to be ready for. Challenges very often bring opportunity too.

However, we have answered a number of queries that we have received in the last few weeks as we get nearer to the end of the Brexit saga.

As things change we will update the information.

1, What do I need to do as a florist to get ready by January 1st? If you buy all your flowers from a cash and carry wholesaler you will not have to do anything, just continue trading, however be prepared to change the date of ordering your plants and work a couple days ahead. Most wholesalers will put the cut off time a day forward.

If you order from a Dutch Flower supplier via their website the chances are they will have a UK Limited company. This will allow them to bring flowers into the UK but you will paying VAT on invoices which at the moment you may not be. This will affect your cash flow but will reduce your quarterly VAT bill if you are registered with HMRC.

Speak to your European supplier now!!!!  

If your Dutch/ European supplier is not forming a UK company then you might need to be the importer in which case you will need an EOIR number starting with GB.  The paper work is complicated and your Dutch wholesalers might do it for you but could charge.

Please check out the Government website.

Something that we need to make clear is that there are 3 important dates to be aware of.

The first is January 1st which will mean that most (high priorty) plants will need a phytosanitary certificate to be exported into the UK. This will then be followed by April 1st where the documentation will be required for cut flowers. This is fairly good news for florists as it means that we miss the 2 vital peaks, Valentines and Mothers Day. Then July 1st when physical inspections at UK border controls may take place. There are several sites being set up as we speak but these inspections could incur delays for our products.

2, What is a plant passport? A plant passport guarantees the quality of the plant from any disease

3, As a florist do I need a plant passport? All plants will require a phytosanitary certificate issued in the EU, the plants will also be inspected on arrival in the UK. So no a florist will not need a plant passport if you buy a plant from a wholesaler.

Importers must have a phytosanitary certificate for almost all plants and living parts of plants, including all seeds for planting, entering the UK from third countries.

They may also need to register as an importer and pre-notify the plant health authority to import certain regulated plants, fruit, vegetables, cut flowers and other objects from outside the EU. Regulated materials that require pre-notification are:

  • all plants for planting
  • root and tubercle vegetables
  • some common fruits other than fruit preserved by deep freezing
  • some cut flowers
  • some seeds, grains and leafy vegetables other than vegetables preserved by deep freezing
  • potatoes from some countries
  • machinery or vehicles which have been operated for agricultural or forestry purposes

For more information CLICK HERE

4, Should I contact my wholesaler about my deliveries? Yes, if in doubt ask them about your concerns regarding the delivery of your flowers. However 99% of flower and plant wholesalers in the UK are ready for January 1st.

5, Is it true that flowers won’t have a tariff? If the UK has a trade agreement with the EU there will be no tariffs, if there is not a trade deal then a tariff of around 8% on fresh flowers will be levied. There are exceptions with non EU countries.

6, Do the same rules of Brexit and leaving Europe apply to Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland ? Yes rules apply to all of the UK, but extra documentation may apply to Northern Ireland.

For the latest development regarding the movement of goods through Northern Ireland click the link below, last updated on the 17th November 2020

7, If my products fly in from Africa and South America will the same rules still apply ? If your supplies come from outside of the EU direct to the UK then the import rules and regulations will not change. If however, the supplies come from outside of the EU and are delivered to the EU then the new rules will apply. The phased approach for EU plant and plant product imports from January 2021 does not apply to non-EU third country plants and plant product imports.

Non-EU third country imports to GB will continue to be checked at border control posts (BCPs) as they do now.

8, Will there be hold ups at the ports ? The Government assure us that there will be a free flow of transport as most checks will not start for 6 months, i.e July the 1st.

9, Why can’t more flowers come from British Growers ? Most large UK growers have to sell to the supermarkets as there is no UK auction house. There is a substantial increase in UK grown flowers in the last 5 years but more government investment and logistics are required. Seasonal flower market in the UK has increased and will continue to do so, dependant on the labour market.

10, I have a Dutch lorry deliver each week will I need to complete some paperwork? The answer-is this far more complicated. The Flying Dutch man could be a problem again depends it they have a UK company or not. If they have a UK bank account then we don’t see a problem if they don’t then paperwork might be required for every customer.

If a Dutch truck will bring the product across without opening a UK Ltd company, the ‘ flying dutch man’ will have to supply the importers name at time of departure and currently the flying Dutchman will not know who is the importer is as he generally sells to florists in the UK on an ad hoc basis.

Ask your supplier for more information.

11. I export fresh products to Europe what do I need to know? From 1 January 2021, all regulated plants and plant products exported from England, Scotland or Wales to the EU will be subject to EU third country import controls. Documentation will be required.

If you require copies of the documents required please email

12, Are my products likely to increase in the next 12 months? The probability is that some products will increase as paperwork and admin may incur charges and be partly passed on. Having said that, the value of Dutch floriculture export to UK in 2019 is 855 million Euros. Its not in anyone’s interest to increase prices.


Other information.

Plant health legislation controls the import and movement of certain plants, seeds and organic matter – such as soil – and certain plant products, including fruit, potatoes, vegetables, cut flowers, foliage and grain.

Controls differ according to the species – and whether or not they are classified as quarantine organisms – but could include the need for classification, a phytosanitary certificate, a plant passport and/or inspection requirements.

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