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Scientific authorisations for plants

Plants that require scientific authorisations are those listed in Schedule 6 of the Plant Health (EU Exit) Regulations 2020, and other plants which could normally be imported or moved with either a phytosanitary certificate or plant passport but where for scientifically justified reasons (e.g. wild collected, knowingly infected etc.) these documents are not available. Scientific authorisations cannot be used simply to bypass the normal phytosanitary requirements for importing plants.

Other specific issues or types of work to consider in respect of plant authorisations include:

  • The import requirements for viable plant DNA extracts are considered on a case-by-case basis and Defra should be contacted for advice before attempting to import such material.
  • Dried (including freeze dried) plants and plant material are outside the scope of the legislation as they are not ‘living’ and provided such material is free from quarantine pests and disease with no viable plant parts its import is unrestricted. The import of dried material contaminated with specified pests or diseases is prohibited except under the terms of a scientific authorisation.
  • Some pollen is also controlled under animal health legislation and guidance should be sought from Defra Animal Health before import.

Plant material, when received at the quarantine station/confinement facilities, must be kept in isolation until inspected by the Plant Health and Seeds Inspectorate (PHSI), and then inspected again by the PHSI whilst in active growth. Details of who to contact will be shown in the body of the scientific authorisation.


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