Northern Ireland is recognised as a high grade seed production area within the EU. Only land tested free of Potato Cyst Nematode by DAERA is used to grow seed potatoes while the spread of virus disease by aphids is suppressed by cool westerly winds.

Northern Ireland Seed Potato Classification Scheme

image of nadine NI seed potato Plant Health & Crop Certification Inspectors within the Plant Health Inspection Branch- implement the Northern Ireland Seed Potato Classification Scheme through the delivery of field and tuber inspection and certification services to Northern Ireland growers. Inspectors ensure that all crops comply with the relevant regulations.

Following at least two field inspections, seed potato crops that meet the rigorous standards required are awarded a plant health certificate appropriate to their specific class. Plant Health and Crop Certification Inspectors also examine consignments of seed potatoes for export and home plantings before they leave the growers premises to ensure that the seed meets the standard for tuber diseases, purity and other defects. Northern Ireland exports seed to many different countries aided by our freedom from many serious pests and diseases of potatoes common elsewhere in Europe.

Seed potato plantings

Seed potato plantings gives details of the area of seed potatoes in Northern Ireland by variety, area and grade planted. These figures have been derived from applications for certification received by DAERA from growers seeking to have crops certified as Pre-Basic and Basic seed potatoes.

The Northern Ireland Register of pre-basic and basic seed potato crops

The Northern Ireland register of pre-basic and basic seed potato crops gives details of all seed potato crops classified in Northern Ireland. Crops are listed by variety and grade with contact details for potential buyers.

Seed Potato Label Online Customer User Guide

The Department's Plant Health Inspection Branch prints seed potato labels (also known as plant passports) for the local industry. Growers, applicants and merchants in Northern Ireland who wish to order labels can do so through DAERA Online Services. Below is a link to the user guide:

Seed Potato Marketing Arrangements

The Seed Potato Marketing arrangements outline the conditions which must be met when marketing seed potatoes produced in Northern Ireland. The document covers requirements relating to bags, seed potato labels and phytosanitary certificates.

Moving Seed Potatoes and Notification Requirements Post EU Exit

The implementation of the Northern Ireland Protocol has meant that there have been important changes to the movement of seed potatoes.

Moving Seed Potatoes from Great Britain into Northern Ireland

When the United Kingdom (UK) left the European Union (EU) on 1st January 2021 movement of GB (Scotland, England and Wales) seed potatoes was prohibited.

The Windosr Framework agreement between the UK and the EU in February 2023 removes this prohibition and allows GB seed potatoes, that meet the Seed Certification and Marketing requirements, to be moved into Northern Ireland (NI) from 1st October 2023 under the Northern Ireland Plant Health Label (NIPHL) Scheme.

For further information on the requirements of the Northern Ireland Plant Health Label (NIPHL) Scheme please visit the following link.

Moving GB seed potatoes to Northern Ireland under the NIPHL Scheme

Buying “small ware” or uncertified seed for planting is not just against the Regulations but it also carries the risk of spreading Potato Cyst Nematode (PCN) from untested fields and increased virus and other disease burdens in crops. Home-saving your own seed for more than one year is also against the Regulations and can result in heavy virus infections in ware crops and increased virus in neighbouring seed crops.

Moving Seed Potatoes from the EU into Northern Ireland

The requirements for the movement of seed potatoes from EU to NI remains unchanged and the same conditions apply as before.

The purchase of seed potatoes from mainland Europe can present greater plant health risks than local or GB seed. Growers are reminded of the requirement to notify DAERA prior to moving any seed into Northern Ireland. This will permit stocks to be tested with the results known well in advance of planting. Growers are reminded that EU grades A and B (Blue label grades) are prohibited in Northern Ireland. The seed should also satisfy the Protected Zone requirements for Northern Ireland (Colorado Beetle and Beet Necrotic Yellow Vein Virus) and this will be evidenced with the abbreviations LPTNDE and BNYVV being printed on the seed potato label. 

Businesses moving seed potatoes into Northern Ireland from the EU are required to notify the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs at least 48 hours in advance using the form below. This measure was introduced to protect the local industry from serious potato diseases that could be introduced via imported seed.

Moving Seed Potatoes from Northern Ireland to Great Britain and the EU

The requirements for moving seed potatoes from NI to GB and from NI to the EU currently remains unaffected and the same conditions apply as before.

Confirmation on Movements from NI to GB can be found on DEFRA’s EU exit webpage Movements from Northern Ireland to GB.

Growers and businesses are advised to keep up-to-date with EU Exit developments by visiting DAERA’s ‘Import and export of plants and trees’ webpage.

Phytosanitary certificates for export

DEARA Plant Health Inspection Branch have launched an online applicationplatfrom for requesting phytosanitary certificates called PECOL (Phytosanitary Export Certificate Online). PECOL can be accessed using the following link 

The Seed Potato Sector

Northern Ireland is recognised as a high-grade seed potato area within the EU. The climate and topography makes it an ideal place to grow healthy seed potatoes with low virus levels and with freedom from many pests and diseases such as colorado beetle, brown rot and ring rot.

Retail Sales of Seed Potatoes

Seed potatoes sold in shops and garden centres in Northern Ireland should fulfil the same conditions as seed potatoes sold to commercial growers. “Retail sales of seed potatoes” gives a brief guide to what is required for sales to the public.

Application to certify seed potato crops

Businesses wishing to have seed potatoes certified in Northern Ireland can apply by using the application form, which should be filled in, printed off and sent, along with supporting documents and fees due, to Plant Health Inspection Branch.


Back to top