Apply for Plant Variety Rights

Apply for Plant Variety Rights

This page outlines how to apply for a grant of Plant Variety Rights for a new plant variety, so you can have the exclusive right to produce for sale and sell propagating material of the variety.

Who can apply

Only the owner of a new variety, or their authorised agent, can apply for Plant Variety Rights (PVR).


The owner can be:

  • the breeder or discoverer and developer of the variety
  • the breeder's employer (for example, a company)
  • a subsequent legal rights holder, known as a 'successor-in-title'.

Any variety owner from anywhere in the world can submit an application. All applications must be in English, and indicate an address for service in New Zealand or Australia.

Please note that if an Australian address for service is used, a New Zealand-based contact may be requested for the organisation of growing trials and related variety testing matters. Further information is available in our Variety Testing in New Zealand guidelines

Authorised agent

An application for Plant Variety Rights can be made by an authorised agent on behalf of the owner. The agent must provide the Commissioner with evidence of the necessary authority to act for the variety owner, in the form of a signed Authorisation of Agent Form [PDF, 144 KB]. If there is more than one owner, the agent must provide evidence of authority to act for each individual owner.

An authorised agent may be licensed to manage the variety and act for the owner, but they are not the successor-in-title, and must not call themselves that in the application process.

It is better if the authorised agent has first-hand knowledge of the new variety. Often the most appropriate agent for the PVR application is the individual or organisation in New Zealand primarily responsible for handling (eg importing, evaluating, bulking-up and distribution) plant material of the new variety.

For example, the agent for:

  • an overseas crop variety could be a local seed company,
  • a fruit or ornamental variety could be a local nursery.

The authorised agent should be able to respond promptly and effectively to official requests for plant material or the organisation of growing trials.


If you are the successor-in-title of the breeder, you must provide enough documentary evidence to the Commissioner to establish your legal rights to ownership of the variety. Documentation should provide clear evidence that the ownership of the variety has been purchased by or transferred to the successor-in-title.

Time limits and key dates

Application time limits

If you have already sold material of the variety you must apply before the time period permitted for prior sales expires. See Criteria used to determine eligibility for Rights below.

Trial closing dates

Be aware of trial closing dates. Some varieties are evaluated by the IPONZ/PVR Office in central growing trials. To ensure your variety is included in the coming season's trials, you must apply by these closing dates:


Type Application date


Make application by 31 March

Agricultural crops

Type Application date

White & red clovers

Make application by 15 January


Make application by 1 February

Winter & alternate cereals

Make application by 15 April

Grass endophytes

 Make application by 1 July

Spring cereals & peas

Make application by 1 August


Make application by 1 August

Forage brassicas (summer sown)

Make application by 1 January

Forage Brassicas (spring sown)

Make application by 1 September

Criteria used to determine eligibility for Rights

Plant Variety Rights are presently available for varieties of any kind of plant other than algae and bacteria.

Following international custom in the world of plant variety protection, the word "variety" is used not in the sense of a "botanical variety", but rather as being synonymous with "cultivar" or "cultivated variety".

The Plant Variety Rights Act 1987 defines a variety as “…a cultivar, or cultivated variety, of a plant, and includes any clone, hybrid, stock, or line, of a plant; but does not include a botanical variety of a plant”.

A grant of Plant Variety Rights may be made for a variety (cultivar) if:

a) it is new

b) it is distinct, uniform and stable (commonly abbreviated to "DUS")

c) an acceptable denomination (variety name) is proposed.

a) New

A variety is considered to be new if propagating material, whole plants, or harvested material of it have not been sold or offered for sale with the agreement of the owner:

  • in New Zealand for more than 1 year before the date of application, or
  • overseas, for more than:
    • 6 years before that date, in the case of woody plants, or
    • 4 years before that date, in the case of non-woody plants.

The prior sale rules above do not apply where:

  • the sale is part of a contractual arrangement to increase the applicant's stock, or for evaluative trials or tests where all the material produced directly or indirectly, plus any unused propagating material, becomes or remains the property of the applicant, or
  • any surplus plant material produced during the breeding, increasing of stock and trials or tests of the variety is disposed of for non-propagating purposes.

b) Distinct, uniform and stable (DUS)

The variety must be distinct from all commonly known varieties existing at the date of application, in one or in some combination of the following characteristics:

morphological (such as shape, colour)physiological (such as disease resistance).

The variety must be sufficiently uniform.

The variety must remain true to its description after repeated propagation.

c) Denomination

You must propose a denomination for the new variety that conforms to internationally accepted guidelines. See the UPOV recommendation for variety denominations. (UPOV = International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants).

If the denomination you propose is not acceptable the Commissioner will reject it and ask for an acceptable alternative.

For further information about naming varieties see the Naming and labelling varieties page.

Before you begin

Check first that you actually have a variety (cultivar). A single plant does not constitute a variety. There is no point in applying until you have successfully propagated a new variety and completed any required selection for uniformity and stability. See Criteria used to determine eligibility for Rights above.

To begin the application process for Plant Variety Rights you will need:

  1. Evidence of ownership (if the owner is other than the breeder).

  2. Completed Authorisation of agent form [PDF, 144 KB] (if applicable).

  3. A completed technical questionnaire applicable to the particular genus or species.

  4. A digital colour photo for every application for a fruit, ornamental, tree, or vegetable variety (not essential for vegetable varieties, but desirable). The photo should be representative of the variety, and should illustrate, as clearly as possible, its chief distinguishing feature(s). The photo can be of the whole plant of the new variety, and/or of plant parts such as the fruit or the flowers, whichever is most appropriate.

    Note: Don't supply a photo of the original bred or discovered plant or, in the case of a new mutation or sport, the plant part from which the variety originated. Instead, you should supply a photo based upon plants or trees propagated from the original plant or plant part.

  5. A seed sample, and germination test certificate (including a vigour test in the case of peas) no more than 3 months old, for every application for an arable crop, pasture plant, amenity grass or vegetable variety. This must be supplied to one of the following addresses:

    • Via courier:
      South Drive
      Lincoln University

    • Via standard post:
      PO Box 85006
      Lincoln 7647

    All seed samples must be clearly labelled with the name of the variety and "For PVR purposes only".

    Seed must have biosecurity clearance before it can be accepted. If you are providing a seed sample from outside New Zealand, this seed sample must be provided to AsureQuality Ltd via a contact in New Zealand (or via a similar arrangement).

    : Submitted online applications for crops that require a seed sample will not be accepted until the date that AsureQuality Ltd receives the required seed sample.

  6. Payment of the relevant fee.

For further information about grass varieties please see Seed requirements for grass varieties.

Seed samples

The quantities of seed for each plant species are listed in the table below. It is in your interest to ensure that the seed sample accurately represents the variety you will supply in commerce and is of the highest grade possible with regard to the number of generations required to achieve genotypic and phenotypic stability for that species. Note that seed from the earliest stage breeding multiplications is often not suitable and may not represent the commercial variety in later generations.

Because the submitted seed sample will be used in the growing trial to determine both differences between varieties and to provide the variety description, we recommend you supply a sample equivalent to certified "Basic" generation.

Seed should also be fresh, and of the highest possible viability. The table below also gives the minimum germination level required. The seed must also:

  • not have been subject to any chemical treatment
  • be free of disease and insect contamination
  • meet basic seed standards for purity.
Kind of plantSeed (g)No of earsMinimum germination %
Arable crops and vegetables
Peas 3000   90*
Barley, oats, ryecorn,   tritcale and wheat 2000 100 90
Beans, lentils, lupins and   maize 2000   90
Linseed 1000   90
Sunflower 1000   85
Beets 500   85
Asparagus 100   90
Borage 100   70
Cucurbits 100   Contact IPONZ/PVRO
Allium, amaranthus and   phacelia 50   85
Capsicum and radish 50   Contact IPONZ/PVRO
Chicory 50   60
Forage brassicas 50   90
Brassicas (other than forage   brassicas) 30   90
Carrot, lettuce, parsnip and   tomato 30   Contact IPONZ/PVRO
Evening primrose 10   75
Brome 500   75
Ryegrass 500   85
Cocksfoot, crested dogstail,   fescue, koeleria and paspalum 50   75
Bents and yorkshire fog 10   90
Phalaris 10   70
Other pasture plants
Serradella and sulla 100   85**
Plantain 50   90
Lotus, lucerne and red clover 50   85**
Yarrow 25   85
White clover 10   85**

* Also vigour (conductivity) must not exceed 24 microsiemens/g

** Includes hard seed


You may file your PVR application through any of the following methods:

  • Online application: Complete the online application form and pay the application fee. See our Online application section below for more details.
  • Paper form: If you wish to file your application using a paperform, these are available from the PVR Office on request.
  • UPOV: Complete your application form via PRISMA, an online application tool maintained by the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV).

Filing your application using PRISMA will allow you to submit your application data to multiple IP offices, including IPONZ. UPOV PRISMA applications can be made for varieties belonging to any plant genus or species. If the specific technical questionnaire is not available online, please contact the PVR Office.

Online application

1.  Log on as a registered user of the website. Find out more about becoming a registered user.
2.  From the left-hand menu of your Inbox, select Plant Variety Right then Apply for a Plant Variety Right.
3.  Fill in all required fields (marked with a red dot).

Field Description



Your reference

Enter your personal reference for the application. Use a different reference for each application. You'll be prompted if a previously used reference is entered by mistake.






Application/designation contact


If you are:

  • the applicant (the owner), select I am acting: In my own right
  • acting As an agent, selecting this will automatically populate the Agent and Applicant/Designation Contact fields with your details.

Note: The agent and the applicant/designation case contact are the same.

PVR information


Plant botanical name

  • Use the dropdown list to select the genus or genus and species to which your variety belongs to.
  • The system automatically pre-populates the UPOV code on the application form. The UPOV code is used to manage botanical synonyms within the UPOV plant variety database.
  • If the variety belongs to a genus or species absent from the dropdown list, contact us.

Proposed denomination

  • Enter your proposed denomination.
  • The denomination is the legal identifier for the variety and is the designation or variety name under which the grant of PVR will be made. If the application is made in more than one country the same denomination must be used. The proposed denomination must conform to internationally accepted guidelines.
  • Applicants may defer proposing a denomination until after application, but if so must give a breeder's reference or some sort of temporary designation.

 Breeder reference

  • Enter a breeder's reference, which the breeder uses to identify the variety.
  • Use of a breeder's reference is voluntary however you need to supply a breeder's reference if a variety denomination has not been proposed at the time of application.

 Commercial synonyms

  • Enter the trade or marketing name under which the variety is commercially or commonly known.
  • The synonym will be recorded in the register under the application, unless the name is a registered trade mark.
  • The commercial synonym has no official status in the PVR application.


  • If applications have been made in other countries provide further details by selecting Add.
  • Indicate all prior applications for protection (ie plant variety rights, plant variety protection certificate, plant patent) without exception, including those filed in countries that are not members of UPOV.
  • For each application, the country (state), the application name, the stage (ie application proceeding, PBR granted) and the denomination or breeder's reference are required.

Technical Examination already completed/Technical Examination already in progress

Provide information about any variety testing in progress or completed by selecting country from the dropdown list and date for the Technical Examination already completed field and the Technical Examination already in progress field.

Technical examination has not yet started

Check this box if examination has not yet started.

Sold or offered for sale in New Zealand

  • If the variety has been sold or offered for sale in New Zealand, provide further information by selecting Add.
  • For the first sale abroad, provide the country (state), the date and denomination or breeder's reference used.



Check the boxes to confirm your material is representative of the variety and relevant, and to authorise exchange of information and material with relevant authorities.

Species-Specific Technical Questionnaire

Select Add to upload your completed technical questionnaire. This is required for all applications.

Germination Certificate

Select Add to upload a germination certificate if required.

Use of Variety


Specify the use category for the variety. This information determines certain application requirements and fees, for example:

  • For crop, pasture, amenity grass and vegetable varieties you must supply a seed sample and germination test certificate.
  • For fruit, ornamental and tree varieties you must supply colour photos. The photos may be of the whole plant and/or of plant parts such as fruit or the flowers where appropriate. This is also desirable but not required for vegetable applications.

Breeder's details



  • If you as the applicant are not the breeder, find the breeder's details by selecting Search in the Breeder section. You may need to enter the details if the breeder is not in the system from previous applications.
  • The applicant (if present) should be removed from this section.

The variety was transferred to the applicant(s) by

  • The applicable, select how the ownership of the variety changed from the breeder to the applicant.
  • If the breeder is not the owner, you will need to upload evidence of ownership of the variety, or an explaination that outlines how ownership of the variety was acquired.


Bred in

Select Add to enter the country that the variety was bred in.



Convention priority

  • Priority may be claimed in respect of an earlier application for plant variety protection in another UPOV-member state.
  • If there has been more than one such application, priority may be claimed only in respect of the first.
  • A further proviso is that this overseas application should have been no earlier than 1 year before the date of the application in New Zealand.
  • If you do claim priority, you must supply the PVR Office with a copy of the documents constituting the first application, within 3 months of the application date in NZ. These should be uploaded at application or supplied within the 3 months permitted.
  • Enter the details of the overseas application. Select Add and enter the overseas application number, priority date and country where the application was first made.

See Claim priority for more information.

Note: You can save an incomplete application at any stage by selecting Save at the bottom right corner of the page. Saved applications are not submitted, but saving an application will allow you to complete this at a later time.

Saved applications that have not been completed and submitted will be kept for 90 days, after which they will be deleted automatically from the system.

Note: You can also generate a printout of your application by selecting Get PDF report.

4.  When you have completed the application form, click Submit and proceed to payment. The fee description is displayed at the bottom of the main application page and on the payment page.

Note: If there is an error or omission in the application form, a message will display in red at the top of the screen.

5.  If you have a direct debit facility loaded to your IPONZ user account, you can choose the Direct Debit option for payment. Otherwise select Credit Card or Internet Banking and complete the payment process.

6.  Once your application has been submitted and paid for you will receive an email notification, and confirmation and summary of the application submission will appear in the Discussion section of your IPONZ inbox.

Claim priority

Being the first to claim rights for a new variety is always important, but note that all application requirements (submitted and complete application page, technical questionnaire, fee, and any required seed samples or photos) must be met before an application date can be determined.

If you have already applied for rights in another country that belongs to the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV) you may be able to claim priority based on this earlier application (see section 12 of the Plant Variety Rights Act 1987).

If you wish to do this, complete the relevant Priority claim section on the application form. You must apply for a New Zealand right within 12 months of the first overseas application if you are to claim priority.

The advantage of claiming priority is that the date of an overseas application becomes regarded in effect as the application date in New Zealand. This may give you precedence over competitors hoping to protect a similar variety.

Note: If you have made more than one application overseas, you can only claim priority for the first application.

Next steps

See The PVR process section for more information on the application process.

Provisional protection

Provisional protection gives your variety interim protection as if the rights have been granted while the application is under consideration. It automatically applies once your application has been accepted, and ceases when the application is withdrawn by the applicant, or when the Commissioner issues or refuses a grant. If you have released your variety into the market, you are entitled to take legal proceedings under this interim protection against any person or organisation you consider is infringing your rights.

One important condition is if the rights are eventually refused, the provisional protection becomes void from the start, or in other words was never of value.

In practical terms, provisional protection means:

  • If you can readily identify and distinguish the new variety, and you're reasonably certain that Plant Variety Rights will be granted, you should be confident enough to be able to sell reproductive material of the new variety knowing that you can take effective legal action to protect your interests against any infringements.
  • If you cannot readily identify the variety, or if you doubt that it is eligible for rights, then provisional protection is of questionable value. It might be wise to wait for the Commissioner's final decision before marketing the variety.
  • Labelling your provisionally protected variety.