Plant Sample Shipping Information

Plant Sample Shipping Information

Submitting your sample from within the UK

When submitting your sample please follow the guidelines outlined below.

Bespoke tests are available on request, please contact us on +44 (0)300 100 0322 or via the Crop health team: crophealth@fera.co.uk

A 'sample' is defined as a unique unit sent in for examination of the same problem. A unit can be a single item (plant, plant part, soil, etc.), or multiple items of the same variety, taken from the same location and exhibiting the same problem. In the case of plants or produce, a sample should comprise 2 or 3 items showing a range of symptoms along with a couple of healthy looking items for comparison. Entirely dead material should not be submitted for testing.

The relevant signed sample submission form must be included (in a separate bag if sample is damp); failure to send a sample submission form may result in a delay of your sample being tested and make diagnosis more difficult. To help us process your samples in the most efficient way please fill in as much information as possible on the relevant form below. Please ensure you provide your email address, 'Your Ref', 'Purchase order no' and 'Name and Address for Invoice' in the sections where applicable.

Download the general sample submission form here

Download the potato sample submission form here

Download the soft fruit sample submission form here

Sending samples for plant pest and disease testing from outside the UK

When sending plant pathogens and invertebrates from outside England and Wales, and soil/other growing media from outside the European Union* for testing please include the relevant Fera Letter of Authority (as issued by Fera Science Ltd) to ensure your samples are not delayed upon entry to the UK. This covers material to be sent for diagnosis of plant pests and pathogens.

Fera hold plant health licences which (for the purposes above) allow us to:

  • Import, move and keep prohibited plant pathogens
  • Import, move and keep prohibited invertebrates
  • Import, move and keep prohibited soil and other organic material

As the customer, you are responsible for paying any customs duties or excise duties that may be raised by UK Customs when sending samples to Fera for testing. If this charge is passed to Fera on your behalf we reserve the right to charge this cost back to you and this may be invoiced separately from your testing charges. We therefore recommend that, where possible, packages should be marked with zero or a nominal monetary value and samples be labelled 'No commercial value - to be destroyed after scientific testing'.

For a copy of the Plant, Soil or Invertebrates licence please contact us on +44 (0)300 100 0322 or email crophealth@fera.co.uk


General import conditions on ALL licensed material

  • All samples must be safely packaged in at least three layers of containment (one of which must be unbreakable) to prevent accidental release. Ridged containers are recommended rather than other types of packaging as material can be easily damaged
  • Any material obtained under the terms of the licence must be sent directly to Fera's Crop Health (Plant Health licenced containment facilities) at York and not via any other institute
  • The relevant current Letter of Authority (LoA), in conjunction with the 'authenticated list of materials' must accompany all packages - these change annually so always ensure you use the correct version available on this website
  • The LoA and accompanying documents must be placed on the outside of the package, it is also advisable to include copies with the package in case these become detached in transit
  • Box 1 must be completed by the exporter. Box 13 must be completed by the relevant National Plant Protection Organisation (NPPO) if the material is coming from another EU member state. This box does not need to be completed for material coming from third countries
  • The accompanying documents must state what the contents of the consignments are
  • Any material not meeting these requirements will either be re-exported or destroyed by the PHSI upon arrival in England and Wales
  • Further information be found here.

Preparing your sample

- To help us offer the best possible service we need the best possible sample. Try to send a sample that is representative of the problem - we need to see the full range of symptoms.

- For diseases, try to include the boundary between healthy and diseased tissue and where possible, include healthy material for comparison marked as such.

- If symptoms on leaves or shoots show general discoloration or dieback, suggesting possible root damage, then please send us a whole plant (where possible) and include the roots and surrounding soil.

- If you suspect the problem is due to nematodes, please include separate soil samples from both the unaffected area and the edge of the affected area.

Whole plants

Enclose moist root ball in a plastic bag sealed around the plant stem. Place the whole plant in a second plastic bag, inflate slightly and seal.

Leaves and shoots

Virus diagnosis: Place in a plastic bag, inflate slightly and seal.

Other/unknown diagnosis: Wrap sample in slightly moist absorbent paper, place in a plastic bag, inflate slightly and seal

Fleshy items

For example: fruit, vegetables, tubers (except potatoes), bulbs, corms, etc. Wrap in dry, absorbent paper, if rotting/breaking down please wrap individually. Place in a plastic bag, inflate slightly and seal.

Invertebrate pests

Samples of invertebrate pests (insects, spiders, mites etc.) should be put in a sealed shatter proof container.

Potato tubers

Invertebrate diagnosis: Wrap in dry, absorbent paper. Place in a plastic bag, inflate slightly and seal.

Other/unkown diagnosis: Wrap in dry, absorbent paper. Do not place in a plastic bag.

Soil samples

Soil samples:

For nematode analysis. Place about 500g of soil in a strong plastic bag and seal, soil sampling protocol available on request. Please email nematology@fera.co.uk

All samples should be put in a strong envelope or cardboard box with your submission form and packed securely.

Ideally, samples should be dispatched by either express courier service or first-class post to arrive at Fera next day. Try to avoid sending samples over the weekend or a bank holiday. All samples should be put in a strong cardboard box and packed securely with screwed up paper.


Contact our sales team

If you are interested in this service, please complete the short form below and a member of our team will contact you within 2 working days.

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