Cannabis Seeds

Cannabis seeds are subject to various regulations and laws surrounding their legality, import and export. In the United Kingdom, the recreational use of cannabis is illegal, but cannabis seeds are not classed as a controlled substance under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971. As a result, it’s legal to sell and import them into the UK.

However, while it’s legal to import cannabis seeds into the UK, the process is still subject to complex customs procedures and numerous regulations. Importers must complete an exceptionally high volume of paperwork to ensure a successful, compliant shipment.

In this article, we will take a close look at the intricacies of importing cannabis seeds into the UK and explore the practical challenges importers must overcome.

Rules to Import Cannabis Seeds into the UK

To successfully import cannabis seeds into the UK you must adhere to the following rules:

  • You must provide details of any necessary health checks and testing.
  • All imported cannabis seeds must be accompanied by a valid phytosanitary certificate.
  • Seeds can only be imported by importers registered on the IPAFFS – Import of products, animals, food and feed system. Some people are still registered on the previous system PEACH – Procedure for Electronic Application for Certificates from the Horticultural Marketing Inspectorate.
  • The contents and label must match the accompanying certificates and documentation.
  • The parcel and documentation must also comply with any additional regulations for the specific exporting country. For example, importers in the EU must supply their EORI (Economic Operators Registration & Identification) number before importing cannabis seeds into the UK.

How to Import Cannabis Seeds into the UK

To successfully import cannabis seeds to the UK and have them pass through customs without delay, there are four main stages an importer must complete:

1. Register as an importer – Anyone hoping to import cannabis seeds into the UK must be registered on the government IT system (IPAFFS) as an importer. This is the system used to notify UK authorities of your intent to import. It must be used for imports of various goods including cannabis seeds, plants, plant products, animals and high-risk foods.

Importers can also be licensed under the Common Agricultural Policy as official importers of specific products. At CannaEx Trades we hold a CAP license making us a fully licensed importer of cannabis and hemp seeds.

2. Compile all necessary documents, including a phytosanitary certificate – Before packing and sending the shipment, importers must arrange for the completion of all documents. These include:

Many of these documents can be completed by the seed bank or breeder that produced the seeds, but others require a more in-depth process. For example, the phytosanitary certificate is an official declaration from the relevant plant health authority stating that the seeds have been inspected and meet the import standards.

3. Pre-notify of shipment – Once you are registered or hold a CAP license and have all the necessary documentation, you must notify HMRC when you intend to import your cannabis seeds. This can usually be done via the same computer system that holds your licenses or import registration. This gives customs advance notice of your shipment and lets you upload scanned copies of key documents, such as the phytosanitary certificate. Pre-notification should be completed 4 hours before the shipment arrives in the UK if transported by air and one day for all other methods of shipment.

4. Pack shipment correctly – For import, it’s recommended that cannabis seeds should be carefully packed into an airtight bag, placed into a double-walled carton and packed with bubble wrap. The original signed documents must be packed inside the sealed box in an envelope marked as ‘original documents’. This should include:

  • A signed commercial invoice
  • The original signed packing list
  • The original signed phytosanitary certificate
  • A copy of the UK import registration or CAP license

How Can I Make This Process Easier?

As you can see from the multiple stages involved, importing cannabis seeds into the UK can be a lengthy and challenging process. With non-compliant parcels regularly seized or remaining stuck in customs, it makes sense to do your homework and take the time to ensure your seeds are shipped correctly with all the right paperwork. The best way to make the importation process easier is to work with an experienced partner like CannaEx Trades.

Not only does CannaEx Trades have a long history of successfully importing cannabis and hemp seeds into the UK, but we are also the only UK cannabis seed company to have a CAP license and are government approved to be issued cannabis seed import licenses. (Our CAP license is for cannabis/hemp seeds which have the commodity code 1207 999100.) Also with close relationships with the APHA (Animal and Plant Health Agency) and Fera Sciences, we’re uniquely placed to advise on testing, phytosanitary certificate application and importation. In addition, we use Expect Logistics, a logistics agent that specialises in cannabis-related shipping.

At CannaEx Trade we’re always happy to work on our client’s behalf to source high-quality seeds, provide the correct documents and support you in arranging all necessary testing and inspections. Because we’re already registered with all the relevant government agencies, we can significantly streamline the importation process and have your seeds safely within the UK in record time.

You can trust us to handle the whole process from start to finish, monitor your shipment and fulfill all custom requests on your behalf. To find out more, reach out to us at the contact details below or via the contact form.