How to apply for National Listing of agricultural and vegetable varieties in the UK.
For information on seed certification, see the guidance on marketing and certification of agricultural and vegetable seed varieties
New varieties of agricultural and vegetable species must be added to the National Lists before they can be commercially exploited. The National Lists are maintained by the Plant Variety Rights and Seeds Office (PVS), which is part of the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA).
The National Lists are lists of agricultural crop and vegetable varieties approved for certification and marketing in the UK.
There are two main lists for plant varieties:
The national vegetable list is further divided into varieties:
- eligible for certification and marketing as standard or certified seed
- that may be marketed as standard seed (the ‘B’ list)
For further information, see the.
Listing conservation and amateur varieties
If you wish to conserve old vegetable varieties or landraces, and the sustainable use of plant genetic resources, you can apply for National Listing under one of the following categories:
Agricultural Conservation Variety - ie a landrace or plant variety that is naturally adapted to local and regional conditions and is threatened by genetic erosion.
Vegetable Conservation Variety - ie a landrace or plant variety which has been traditionally grown in particular localities or regions and is threatened by genetic erosion.
Amateur Vegetable Variety - ie a plant variety developed for growing under particular conditions with no intrinsic value for commercial crop production and intended specifically for amateur gardeners.
How National Lists affect farmers and growers
All seed grown for commercial marketing in the UK must be officially listed by the PVS.
Eligibility to apply for National Listing
Anyone can apply to have a plant variety included on the relevant National List. However, if Plant Breeders’ Rights (PBR) are held for a variety, anyone wanting to market or multiply its seed must get permission from the rights holder.
The UK National Lists are based on EC Council Directives on the marketing of agricultural and vegetable varieties.
The EC compiles common catalogues of varieties on member states’ National Lists. Varieties on this common catalogue are eligible for certification and marketing throughout the European Union (EU).
For National List purposes, EC directives are covered by the Plant Varieties and Seeds Act 1997 and the National List Regulations made under that Act.
Acceptable varieties for National Lists
To be accepted for the National Lists, an agricultural or vegetable variety must conform to the ‘DUS’ criteria:
- sufficiently uniform
A distinct plant variety is one that differs in one or more important characteristics from other varieties included in:
- a National List
- a list of another member state corresponding to a National List
- a EU common catalogue
‘Uniformity’ means a variety whose individual plants are ‘similar or genetically identical’ in terms of important characteristics, allowing for ‘very few’ aberrations.
Stable plant varieties are those whose essential characteristics remain true to their original description after successive propagations or multiplications.
Value for cultivation and use
For agricultural crops to be listed, the variety must also show VCU during trials. This means a clear improvement, either for cultivation or regarding the uses made of the crops or products deriving from them.
VCU trials are not necessary for:
- grasses not intended for the production of fodder plants
- any plant variety whose seed is to be marketed in another member state, which has already accepted it on to a National List, having regard to its value for cultivation and use
- any variety intended for use only as a component of a final plant variety
If you consider that your variety has a special VCU merit claim, you must indicate this on the technical questionnaire submitted with your application. Special tests or trials, for which a fee is payable, may be needed to prove the claim.
Listing genetically modified (GM) and novel foods
Before you can apply to have them included on a National List, GM plant varieties must be accepted for marketing under EU Council Directive 2001/18/EC on the deliberate release into the environment of GM organisms. If the variety is intended for food or feed use, it must have been accepted under Council Regulation (EC) No 1829/2003 on GM food and feed.
If any material derived from the variety is intended for use as a food or food ingredient - as defined by Council Regulation (EC) 258/97 - that food or food ingredient must be authorised under the novel foods regulation, amended by Council Regulation (EC) No. 1829/2003.
If you are applying to have a plant variety listed, you must complete the appropriate PVS forms and technical questionnaire, and pay the administration fee.
When making an application the following must be submitted to NLPBR-Applications@fera.gsi.gov.uk:
- completed application form
- completed technical questionnaire and, if appropriate, the technical questionnaire confidential part.
All applications and documents must be in English or be accompanied by an English translation.
In some cases other forms may also be required such as the Authorisation of Agent and/or Application to Maintain a Plant Variety.
For each application or batch of applications a completed RAS 1 or 2 form (remittance advice slip) must be submitted to ssd.FinanceAR@defra.gsi.gov.uk.
Please note that receipt of the administration fee later than two weeks after receipt of the application may result in delays in processing and in the longer term, the application may not be processed.
We recommend that you keep a copy of the RAS form, along with the automated response which confirmed receipt of the application, for your accounting purposes.
After processing PVS will send a letter of acknowledgement and allocate a reference number to each candidate variety; please quote this number on all subsequent correspondence regarding the candidate variety.
PVS will normally request seed/plant material except for rye, triticale and winter oilseed rape which will be requested by BSPB.
- Application to add a plant variety
- Application to maintain a plant variety
- Authorisation of agent
- Technical questionnaires
Payment by credit card
Phone +44 (0) 1905 763355 and then email (or post) the completed RAS forms to ssd.financeAR@defra.gsi.gov.uk using the instructions on the form.
Email the completed RAS form to ssd.financeAR@defra.gsi.gov.uk
Payments by cheque
Post the completed RAS form wiith a cheque made payable to Animal and Plant Health Agency to:
Shared Services Connected Ltd
1-2 Peasholme Green
York, YO41 1PX
Fees should not be sent to the Plant Varieties and Seeds Office in Cambridge.
GM variety applications
You are legally obliged to tell the PVS if you are applying for listing of a GM plant variety - as defined under the European Union (EU) Council Directive 2001/18/EC.
Before your variety can be tested, you must get at least one of the following types of consent and supply copies with your application:
- marketing consent - in accordance with Part VI of the Environmental Protection Act 1990
- part C marketing consent - in accordance with Council Directive 2001/18/EC
- consent in accordance with Council Regulation (EC) No 1829/2003
Novel food variety applications
You must inform Defra if you are applying to register a plant variety that can be used as a food or food ingredient, as defined under article 1(2) of Council Regulation (EC) No. 258/97.
It is your responsibility to get all the necessary authorisations and tell Defra of any restrictions imposed that may affect the statutory tests and trials. Copies of any authorisation must be provided with the application form.
Conservation and amateur vegetable varieties applications
While not mandatory, you can apply to register certain conservation and vegetable varieties for amateur gardeners. See the page in this guide on ‘what are the National Lists?’.
Tests and trials
To be added to a National List, a variety must be distinct, sufficiently uniform and stable (DUS) and, for agricultural crops, have satisfactory value for cultivation and use (VCU). For a grant of Plant Breeders’ Rights to be awarded a variety must be Distinct Uniform and Stable.
DUS tests and VCU trials are carried out at approved centres on behalf of National Authorities, which includes for DUS trials, centres approved by other National Authorities in the EU. The trials on average, are conducted over a two year period. These tests and trials are conducted under protocols and procedures approved by the Plant Variety and Seeds Committee, which represents the National Authorities on seeds matters.
If you have any queries, please contact:
Protocols and procedures for tests and trials
These documents are available on the archived APHA web pages while work is in progress on moving them to GOV.UK.
Names and maintenance of seed varieties
If you are applying for an agricultural or seed variety to be included in the UK National Lists, you must satisfy two main requirements:
- the variety must have a unique name
- there must be a designated maintainer of the variety
You must propose a name for your candidate variety. If the variety is accepted for listing, the same name will normally be used in all member states of the EU.
You must not choose a name where:
- its use is precluded by the prior right of a third party
- there are difficulties regarding recognition or reproduction
- it is identical to, or may be confused with, another variety name
- it is identical to, or may be confused with, other goods
- it is misleading or causes confusion concerning the characteristics of the variety or other features
Proposed names for varieties are advertised in the PVS Gazette, with three months allowed for objections.
Find out more about the PVS Gazette, see the page in this guide on ’The Plant Varieties and Seeds Gazette and the European Union common catalogue’.
Once a variety has been added to a National List or EU common catalogue, it may only be marketed under its registered name.
A variety on a National List needs to be maintained by at least one person according to accepted practices.
The maintainer must have the facilities and services available to enable them to maintain the variety. You must have a maintainer before your variety can be proposed for addition to a National List. You can get a maintainer form from the PVS.
Maintainers must keep records of all the generations of the varieties maintained and produce these for inspection on request. The maintainer must also allow authorised officers to inspect or examine any plants or plant material, and provide samples if required.
Anyone can apply to be designated as an additional maintainer of a variety, or to take over the maintenance of a variety if the original maintainer no longer wishes to do so.
Proposed decisions on entries to the National Lists
New agricultural or vegetable varieties entered for the National Lists need to go through a series of tests, trials and assessments.
Once these tests are complete and all other conditions - such as a unique name and an acceptable maintainer - have been met, the UK National Authorities, represented by the National Lists and Seeds Committee, will make a proposed decision on whether or not to accept the variety onto a National List.
You or your agent will be sent copies of the final DUS and VCU reports.
Find out more about the DUS and VCU requirements on the page in this guide on ‘What varieties can be accepted for National Lists’.
The PVS will then publish the proposed decision on whether to accept or refuse the variety in its monthly gazette. All test results are then made available to anyone on request.
Anyone affected by the decision may make representations or apply for a hearing on the proposed decision, normally up to 14 days after its publication in the Gazette.
Varieties will be added to the National List, subject to payment of any award fee if:
- the UK National Authorities proposes to accept the variety for listing
- no objections are received
- no new evidence is offered that the proposed decision was wrong
New listed varieties are published in the Gazette, together with their maintainer(s) and any agents.
If the National Authorities proposes to refuse entry of your variety to a National List, it will advise you and publish a notice in the Gazette giving its reasons. Copies of the final DUS and VCU reports will be sent to you, and made available to others on request.
Anyone may make representations or apply for a hearing, normally up to 14 days after publication of the Gazette. If the PVS receives no objections to its decision, it will publish notice of its refusal.
Appeals to the Plant Varieties and Seeds Tribunal
If you disagree with the decision, you can appeal to the Plant Varieties and Seeds Tribunal. In such cases, the National Authorities will suspend its final decision pending the outcome.
The office will then publish a final notice, giving details of appeals received and the suspension of decisions. After it has heard an appeal, the Tribunal will inform the persons concerned and the final decision will be published in the Gazette.
Duration of plant variety listings, renewals and deletions
If your agricultural or vegetable variety has been approved, it will stay on a National List for ten calendar years. Some species require the payment of an annual fee for each year they remain on the National List.
You must also ensure that you meet all the regulations around listing, such as maintenance of the variety.
If you or your maintainer wants to continue the listing after the first ten-year period, you should apply to the PVS.
If you do not apply for renewal, your variety may be removed from the National List at the end of the ten-year period.
Deletion from a National List
A maintainer of a variety can give notice to the PVS at any time if they no longer intend to maintain a variety. If they are the only maintainer, the PVS will publish a notice in the Gazette, inviting applications from anyone who wishes to maintain the variety. If no applications are received, the variety will be deleted from the National List.
For B-list vegetable varieties only, special provisions apply. Where the only maintainer of a B-list vegetable variety gives notice that they no longer wish to maintain the variety the National Authorities will consider the status of the variety on a case-by-case basis.
In exceptional circumstances, the National Authorities may remove a variety from a National List.
The PVS keeps records of all applications for National Lists and National List awards, and will disclose them on request.
For applications under consideration, PVS records the following information:
- the date on which the application was received and its reference number
- the date on which details of the application were published in the Gazette
- the name and address of the applicant
- a description of the characteristics of the plant variety provided by the applicant
- the proposed name of the variety, as published in the Gazette
- any other information the Secretary of State considerers desirable
For varieties that have been added to a National List, the PVS will record:
- the information above
- the species, name and a description of the variety
- the date of acceptance of the variety onto the National List, and a summary of all the facts on which the acceptance was based
- for genetically modified varieties, the reference number under which the variety was accepted for marketing under the relevant legislation
- for novel foods, the reference under which the material may be placed on the market under the Novel Foods Regulation
- the date on which the acceptance onto a National List is due to expire
- the name and address, or address code, of the maintainer
- details of ten-year renewals
- any other information the National Authorities considers to be desirable
The Plant Varieties and Seeds Gazette
The Plant Varieties and Seeds Gazette is published monthly. It contains information on practices and procedures covered under the National List Regulations.
EU common catalogue
The EC produces compilations of all member states’ National Lists known as the ‘common catalogue’. These are published in the Official Journal of the European Communities. Separate catalogues are produced for agricultural and vegetable species. Varieties included are usually freely marketable throughout the EU.
To get a variety listed in the common catalogue, it must first be included in a National List of a member state.
All varieties added to the UK National List are put forward by PVS to be added to the common catalogue.
Read the common catalogues on the Circa website.
You can contact the PVS Helpline on +44 (0) 300 060 0497 or write to them at:
Plant Variety Rights and Seeds Office
Animal and Plant Health Agency
Eastbrook Shaftesbury Road