The UK has left the EU, and the transition period ended on 31 December 2020.

The UK Timber Regulation (UKTR) replaces the EU Timber Regulation (EUTR) and applies in Great Britain (Scotland, England and Wales) from 1st January 2021.

The EUTR will still apply in Northern Ireland.

The main changes from the 1st January 2021 are:

All wood placed on the GB market will be subject to UKTR Due Diligence (explained below).

Due diligence checks will be carried out on timber flowing:

  • From GB to NI
  • From the EU & EEA to GB
  • From GB to EU & EEA (will need to comply with EUTR due diligence rules)

There will be no new due diligence checks for timber flowing:

  • From EU & EEA to NI
  • From NI to GB 

There will be no changes to the current processes for: 

  • UK businesses first placing timber on the internal market (carry out due diligence as before)
  • Businesses importing timber from outside of the EU & EEA (Timber and timber products covered by valid FLEGT or CITES licences are considered to comply with the requirements of the regulations)

UK importers from the EU will switch from being ‘Traders’ to ‘Operators’ (these terms are explained below), this changes their responsibility for due diligence checks.

EUTR Due diligence checklists issued with felling permissions and forest plans up to 31 December 2020.

Legacy permission documents are valid for the life of the permission and provide confirmation that the timber was, or can be, felled legally, allowing the timber to be legally placed on the market.

However, operators will need to check that the due diligence checks they undertake and the details they provide concerning the timber they place on the market, match the requirements of the UKTR at the time they place the timber on the market. The Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS) have provided a due diligence checklist (Timber regulations: due diligence checklist (publishing.service.gov.uk).

The purpose of the regulation

These regulations are designed to prohibit the trade in illegal timber.

The Timber and Timber Products (Placing on the Market) Regulations 2013 support the UKTR by making it a crime to place illegal timber on the market.

What the regulations mean

These regulations oblige organisations or individuals who place timber and timber products on the market to demonstrate that the timber and timber products they are trading, originate from legal sources.

Who the regulations apply to

Any natural or legal person or organisation, who buys and sells timber or timber products already placed on the market (a trader), or who first places timber or timber products on the market (an operator) is responsible for compliance. This might apply to landowners who have applied for a felling permission and who may be considering directly selling their timber.

What you have to do

An operator is the person who places timber or timber products on the GB market for the first time. Operators are required to implement a 'due diligence' system, which means that they must carry out a management exercise to minimise the risk of placing illegally harvested timber, or timber products containing illegally harvested timber, on the market.

Due diligence means that you must provide the following information on the timber:

  • Description / specification of the product;
  • Species;
  • Quantity (volume);
  • Name of supplier;
  • Country where it was harvested;
  • Confirmation that you have complied with the appropriate forestry legislation.

You must also assess the risk of illegally harvested timber entering your supply chain and provide evidence that the risk is negligible.

A trader is someone who sells or buys timber or timber products already placed on the market. Traders are required to tell the Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS):

  • who they bought the timber or timber products from;
  • who they sold them to (regardless of species, product or country of origin), through evidence such as an invoice.

Both traders and operators are required to keep records for five years.

How we can help

Felling Permissions (issued after 1st April 2019) & Felling Licences (issued before 1st April 2019): these documents provide much of the detail required to demonstrate ‘Due diligence’ and include a ‘Due diligence’ checklist for timber grown in Great Britain’ which will help you meet the obligations placed on operators by the regulations.

If you are directly placing your timber on the market for the first time, all you need to do is sign the declaration on the form. This form and the felling permission should be kept together with the details of the contract for the sale and purchase of the timber.

The regulations require these records to be kept for at least five years.

Who needs to have this form?

The person who needs to have this form is the person who directly places the timber on the market. If you sell the trees standing then the regulations do not apply to you. If the landowner or applicant receiving the approved felling permission is only felling the timber but not directly placing it on the market then they must pass on the form and a copy of the felling permission to the agent or company who are doing so.

Forest Plans

Felling authorised under a Forest Plan is also covered by the UKTR. The Felling Permission issued with a forest plan includes a due diligence checklist and helps you to meet your obligations under the UKTR.

Statutory Plant Health Notices (SPHN’s)

Timber that is being felled as required by an SPHN is also covered by these regulations.

Inspecting the UKTR process

The Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS) has been appointed by Defra to enforce the regulations in the UK, checking that appropriate records are maintained by traders and operators; and ensuring that the due diligence systems of operators are fit for purpose. There will be no change to the way timber due diligence requirements are enforced. However, failure to comply with the timber regulations and enforcement ranges from warning letters, through to court cases, to an unlimited fine and up to two years in prison.

Useful links:

Further guidance can be found at:

Trading timber: imports and exports from 1 January 2021

Regulations: timber and FLEGT licences

Plant Passports

The plant passport procedure is a stand-alone system giving traceability and an assurance that GB plant health standards are being met.   UK legislation requires the use of UK plant passports for:

  • the movement of all conifers and Castanea species (including sweet chestnut) with bark and isolated bark of these species, including when mixed with bark from other species or other material;*
  • moving Juglans (walnut), Platanus (plane) and Pterocarya (wingnut) with or without bark and isolated bark of these species (except the isolated bark of Platanus), including when mixed with bark from other species or other material;*
  • cut Christmas trees over 3 metres tall and for cut conifer foliage taken from trees over 3 metres tall. plants for planting.*

For these species, a plant passport will be required at each stage of the transport chain where whole or chipped roundwood (including brash) is moved from the harvesting site and/or site of aggregation, to the processor. A plant passport will also be required for the movement of bark from a wood processor to a bark processor, and for isolated bark moved between bark processors and to retailers and some final users.

For more details go visit Gov.Uk Plant Health news.