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What requires a scientific authorisation?

Scientific authorisations permit the import, keeping and movement between quarantine stations/confinement facilities in England and Wales of specified pests and material. There are currently six types of material covered by scientific authorisations. More information on these is included in the following links:



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


Other types of authorisations to be aware of


Previously a scientific authorisation was required for the import of bonsai from Japan. Plant Health Legislation has been amended, and the import of Japanese Bonsai is no longer prohibited but is instead controlled, and will therefore require a phytosanitary certificate. There are specific import requirements which are the same as those set out previously (meaning they match the current requirements of your Bonsai scientific authorisation) and they provide the same level of protection against the introduction of pests of concern.

If you have any further questions surrounding the import of bonsai, please contact APHA CIT.


Historically, licences issued by the Forestry Commission (FC) were required for the import and holding of prohibited invertebrate pests and pathogens of forest trees or for prohibited forest trees which meet any of the criteria listed above. The FC were responsible for administering all aspects of their licensing regime, including inspections, however this is now conducted by Defra and the Plant Health and Seeds Inspectorate (PHSI) on behalf of FC under the scientific authorisation regime. FC still retain the ability to issue authorisations if they wish to in the future.

Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO)

There is no longer a requirement for scientific authorisations to cover activities using or producing genetically modified plant pests as these activities are adequately covered by the Genetically Modified Organisms (Contained Use) Regulations 2000.

However, it should be noted that simply because a plant pathogen or invertebrate contains a GM insert does not mean that it will not need a scientific authorisation. If the organism itself is a quarantine organism or thought to pose a risk to plant health then an authorisation may still be required. Further guidance should be sought from Defra or the local PHSI.


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