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Plant Varieties and Seeds

Plant Varieties and Seeds

Since 1 January 2021, all regulated plants and plant products, including seeds, which are imported to and exported from Great Britain (GB) must meet the European Union’s (EU’s) third country import and export requirements. The rules for the marketing of seed and other propagating material and for variety listing are different for Northern Ireland (NI) under the Northern Ireland Protocol, upholding its longstanding status as a single epidemiological unit.  


The Question-and-Answer guide provides a summary of the changes in relation to:  

  • Plant Variety Rights  

  • Common Catalogue and National List  

  • Marketing in GB 

  • Marketing (exporting seed to the EU) in the EU  

  • The Northern Ireland Protocol  

  • Distinctness, Uniformity and Stability (DUS) Testing including Annex 1 - DUS species tested by Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI), National Institute of Agricultural Botany (NIAB) and Science and Advice for Scottish Agriculture (SASA) page will outline the agricultural and vegetable species and types where the UK has DUS testing capability.  

  • Seed and Ware Potatoes  

  • Plant Health Requirements 

  • Non-EU countries

  • Devolved Administrations Guidance  


The Authorisation for equivalence page sets out the formal recognition of EU member states, Switzerland, and EEA countries as equivalent in the production of seed and other propagating material and maintenance of varieties following approval from the Secretary of State for Defra for England, Welsh Ministers for Wales and Scottish Ministers for Scotland.  


The Marketing Equivalence and Varietal Requirements for Movement of Seed to the European Union and/or Northern Ireland page summaries the marketing requirements for the following crop groups 

  • Agricultural seed 

  • Seed potatoes 

  • Vegetable seed 

  • Fruit Plant seeds 

  • Ornamental species seed 

  • Forest seeds  


The Step-by-Step Guide to Move Seed from Great Britain to Northern Ireland page sets out the process for moving seed for planting from England and Wales to Northern Ireland. It will also cover separate arrangements which apply in Scotland and in relation to seed intended for forestry purposes.