Plant diseases and pests can be introduced into new areas via certain goods – in particular, fresh plant material. To eliminate this risk, the import and export of such goods is prohibited or subject to certain conditions.
The term "non-EU countries" refers to all countries other than Switzerland, Liechtenstein and EU member states. From a plant health perspective, the Canary Islands, Ceuta, Melilla and French overseas territories are also considered to be non-EU countries.
Note: The United Kingdom (with the exception of Northern Ireland) is considered as a non-EU country for trade in plant material since 1 January 2021 (for more information, see below).
The import of fresh plant material (i.e. non-prohibited material, see below) from non-EU countries is possible only with a phytosanitary certificate. This applies, for example, to plants, fruits, vegetables, cut flowers, seeds and other fresh parts of plants. The phytosanitary certificate must be obtained from the plant protection organisation of the country of origin. The only fruits which can still be brought into Switzerland or the EU from any other country without a phytosanitary certificate are pineapples, coconuts, durians, bananas and dates.
As well as being accompanied by a phytosanitary certificate, certain goods must meet specific requirements for import (see Fact Sheet no. 1) and are checked on arrival by the competent phytosanitary service.
Companies wishing to import goods requiring a phytosanitary certificate from non-EU countries must register with the SPPS (mandatory registration of operators). The SPPS must generally be notified of import consignments containing goods requiring a certificate at the latest one day prior to their arrival. For this purpose, the online import notification system TRACES (Trade Control and Expert System) must be used. More detailed information on import notification can be found under “Import procedure from third countries (TRACES)” below. The SPPS customs offices where phytosanitary import controls are carried out are located at Zurich and Geneva airports. For non-notified consignments, delays in phytosanitary clearance are to be expected. Information on the import procedure can be found under “Import procedure from third countries (TRACES)” below.
Trade in protected plant species is subject to the provisions of the Washington Convention (CITES). Information on this topic can be obtained from the Federal Food Safety and Veterinary Office (FSVO).
Exports to non-EU countries are subject to the regulations of the country of destination. In most cases, a phytosanitary certificate is required. This can be applied for online. The Agroscope Phytosanitary Service (APS) is responsible for issuing certificates for agricultural goods. Certificates for forest plants and wood are issued by the relevant section of the Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN).
Information on the import regulations of the country of destination for the goods in question should be obtained as early as possible. Certain countries issue import licences and require additional field inspections or laboratory analyses. Import licences and other documents are to be submitted with the online application for a phytosanitary certificate.
It is always advisable for the consignee to obtain information on the relevant phytosanitary requirements from the competent authority in the country of destination and to pass this information to the exporter applying for the phytosanitary certificate.
Special regulations are applicable for wood packaging material (ISPM15).
Details of national plant protection organisations: