EU-wide ban on bringing in fresh produce from third countries starts ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

Starting from Saturday, fruit, vegetables, and plants from third countries - including Russia - may not be brought in to Estonia or other European Union countries in a bid to prevent the spread of pests.

Ülle Metsman, Advisor to the Department of Plant Health and Horticulture of the Agricultural Board, said the list of objects third countries nationals should not carry in their suitcases is quite long - it's actually easier to say what they can bring in, than what is forbidden. 

There are only five varieties of fresh fruits allowed such as banana, durian, pineapple, date and coconut. But potatoes, apples, oranges, plants and cut flowers are not allowed to enter Estonia any more.

"The reason for the restrictions is that more and more harmful pests, both diseases and pests, have been found from new areas in the European Union, and stricter rules have been put in place to prevent them from spreading so that we don't get any new pests we don't already have in the European Union," Metsman said to ETV's Aktuaalne kaamera.

On Saturday, passengers at Tallinn Airport were told about the new rules because air travelers bring a lot of cut flowers to Estonia. The new restrictions will also affect people trying to bring in produce from Russia via the border crossing in Narva.

"In Narva, people who, for example, have a cottage on the other side of the border who grow fresh fruit and vegetables for themselves there, will have to keep in mind that everything - tomatoes, onions, carrots, apples, pears, berries - both garden and wild berries - must not be brought in to Estonia in fresh form," said Metsman.

From now on, anyone who would like to bring apples from St. Petersburg to their relatives, for example, needs to present special documents at the border.

"In that case, they will have to go to the Russian State Plant Protection Service and apply for a phytosanitary certificate. It's quite complicated. Apples are not the best souvenir to bring," Metsman said.

The customs officers at Tallinn Airport and the Narva border checkpoint did not detect prohibited plant products on the first day of the restrictions.

Virgo Treinbuk, head of the Eastern Customs Point, said travelers arriving in the country with fruit or vegetables are not allowed to take them back to Russia or transfer them to the Estonian state. Confiscated items are stored in a freezer and then destroyed.

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Editor: Helen Wright

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