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Scientific authorisations


Scientific authorisations (previously scientific licensing) permit the import, holding and movement between quarantine stations/confinement facilities in England and Wales of specified material, provided the material is being used for official testing, scientific research, educational purposes, trials, testing new varieties of plants (varietal selection) or breeding.

There are currently six types of plant health scientific authorisations for different material:

  • plants, including parts of plants and seeds
  • invertebrate plant pests (arthropods, molluscs and nematodes)
  • plant pathogens (fungi, bacteria, viruses, virus-like agents and phytoplasmas)
  • soil and other organic material for chemical and physical analysis
  • soil and other organic material for non-chemical and physical analysis
  • potatoes

All scientific authorisations strictly outline how the material must be handled from the time of arrival at the quarantine stations/confinement facilities in England or Wales until the material is destroyed.


Further background on scientific authorisations can be found at:



Guidance for authorisation holders and applicants 

To determine whether your work requires a scientific authorisation, you should email APHA CIT before making an application.

Guidance for scientific authorisation holders and applicants can now be found here:

Scientific authorisations guidance for authorisation holders and applicants


We are currently reviewing and revising our documents to make them more accessible. If you want a particular document or this guidance in an accessible format please email plantpestsrisks@defra.gov.uk


Further information

For any further details or queries please use the contact details below.


England & Wales

Animal & Plant Health Agency (APHA)



Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra)



Northern Ireland

Department for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA)




Science and Advice for Scottish Agriculture (SASA)