Strict new regulations ban ‘even an apple’ from outside the EU

It's a wide ranging ban on bringing in fruits, vegetables and flowers but there are some tropical exceptions to the new rules.

File picture of fruit / Credit: iStock

Strict new regulations being introduced this week put a ban on bringing most biological items into Finland from outside the EU.

So travelers who want to soak up some sun in Thailand – a popular winter getaway for Finns – should be extra vigilant about what they try to bring back home, although there are some tropical exceptions.

The new import regulations come into force on Saturday, and prohibit customers bringing plants, some seeds and even fresh fruits, vegetables and berries into they country from outside the EU without a special phytosanitary certificate.

“Travellers should learn to think in a whole new way when it comes to bringing in goods” says Tiia Sulander-Seppänen, Senior Customs Officer at Finnish Customs Tulli.

“Some travellers are well aware of the fact that meat and milk products cannot be brought into Finland from outside the EU. Now the restrictions are expanding to include berries, fruits and vegetables among others” she explains.

It’s almost impossible for a private person to get a phytosanitary certificate, but some specific items are exempt from the new regulations, including bananas, dates, durian, coconut and pineapple.

Officials say the regulations are part of the EU’s target to tackle pest problems in member states, so online sales are also included in the new rules.

“The import conditions have been tightened so that we can prevent the spread of plant pests more efficiently in the EU territory” says Sari Haikola from the Finnish Food Authority.

List of prohibited goods:

  • Seedlings, potted plants, greenery;
  • Scions, stems, tubers, rhizomes and similar propagated materials;
  • Seeds for planting;
  • Cut flowers and branches;
  • Fresh fruits, berries, vegetables and root vegetables.