Cereals National Listing


The National List system was adopted in 1973 following the UK entry into the European Community. It applies to the main agricultural and vegetable species and ensures that no seed of a prescribed species may be marketed in the UK unless the variety is on a UK list or the EU Common Catalogue. 

The National List system, together with seed certification and labelling:

  • ensures that seeds of a variety are sold under one name;
  • ensures that named varieties offered to growers are distinct and possess identifiable and lasting characters;
  • assures that the seed purchased in the Community has been tested according to common standard; and 
  • ensures a market within the Community for seed producers. 

Once a valid application for National Listing is accepted, seed of the variety will be requested for official tests and trials designed to assess whether the variety is distinct, uniform and stable (DUS) and, in the case of agricultural crops, whether it has value for cultivation and use (VCU). Varieties meeting these criteria are eligible for National Listing.


The plant variety shall be clearly distinguishable, by one or more important characteristics, from any other plant variety.


The plant variety shall be such that the plants of which it is composed are similar or genetically identical as regards to the characteristics, examined.


The plant variety shall continue to exhibit its essential characteristics after successive reproductions.

Value for cultivation and use

The agronomic characters of the plant variety shall in comparison with the qualities of other plant varieties in a National List, show a clear improvement either as regards crop farming or the use made of the harvested crops or of products produced from these crops. The qualities of the plant variety shall for this purpose be taken as a whole, and inferiority in respect of certain characteristics may be offset by other favourable characteristics.

The duration of DUS tests and VCU trials is a minimum of 2 years.

On completion of the appropriate DUS tests and VCU trials the variety will be considered by inter-departmental Technical Committees to ascertain whether the requirements for National Listing have been met. Where the Technical Committees are satisfied that the variety meets the criteria then a proposal to add the variety to the UK National List will be published in the NL Gazette. The Scottish Government is responsible for NL VCU trials in Scotland and the trials are supervised by SASA.

For further information contact: Seed Certification Branch.