Official letter of authority for the introduction or movement of plants and plant products for trials or scientific purposes

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In order to allow scientific research institutes to carry out trials, scientific research or to work on varietal selection processes, it is necessary to have an official letter of authority to import into the European Union (EU) or to export outside the EU harmful organisms, plants, plant products and other materials whose import or export would otherwise be prohibited.

The research institute has to submit their application to the Administration of agricultural technical services ( Administration des Services Techniques de l'Agriculture - ASTA) .

Who is concerned?

Research institutes, their researchers and heads of biosecurity who conduct tests and trials on existing products or develop new species have to request an official letter of authority to import or export plants and plant products for research purposes.

The goods concerned are:

  • isolated harmful organisms;
  • certain plants, plant products including soil and growing medium;
  • plants, plant products and other materials which do not meet the usual specific requirements;
  • plants, plant products and other materials from third countries likely to contain harmful organisms which would be otherwise prohibited for import.

Examples: live parts of plants, fruits or vegetables which have not been frozen, bulbs, cut flowers, leaves, seed, contaminated plants and plant products.


Before submitting the application, it is necessary to precisely define the scope, limits and framework of the research project concerned.

How to proceed

Submitting the application

Applicants must submit their application on plain paper to the Administration of agricultural technical services (ASTA) by mail or email to

They have to attach a phytosanitary certificate for the consignment concerned by the application.

Conditions for denial

ASTA can withdraw the authorisation (letter of authority) at any moment if the prior requirements are no longer met, e.g. if the samples contain, upon their arrival, other harmful organisms than those for which the authorisation has been applied for.

Modification of the application

Applicants have to submit a similar application for authorisation before any change can be made or notify ASTA in the event of a cessation of research, trial or specification activities.

This can namely be the case if:

  • the intention is to import, introduce or use other harmful organisms, plants, plant products or other materials;
  • other life stages of organisms are developed;
  • the quantities need to be adapted;
  • the premises and installations are being modified;
  • SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) are changed in a way that impacts the existing assessment of the activity's safety and security.

The new activity can only start once the application for modification has been approved. Depending on the nature of the modification, the approval can be purely administrative or based on an inspection visit.

Who to contact

Plant Protection Service (ASTA)

Related procedures and links



Further information

Legal references

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