The Invasive Alien Species (Enforcement and Permitting) Order 2019

Jurisdiction:  England and Wales and the UK’s offshore marine area

Commencement:   1st October 2019

Amends:   Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981


Mini Summary

This Order allows for the enforcement of Regulation (EU) No. 1143/2014 on the prevention and management of the introduction and spread of invasive alien species in England and Wales, including the relevant licences, permits and rules for keeping invasive alien species.


An enforcement regime is introduced, including criminal offences, licencing, and permitting provisions for Regulation (EU) No. 1143/2014 on the prevention and management of the introduction and spread of invasive alien species (“The IAS Regulation”)

The IAS Regulation lists species of concern which cannot be imported, kept, bred / grown,  transported, sold, used, allowed to reproduce, or released into the environment. There are currently 49 species listed, which can be found in the Annex of Regulation (EU) No. 2016/1141 adopting a list of invasive alien species of Union concern pursuant to Regulation (EU) No 1143/2014.

The regulator is Natural England for England, offshore marine areas, and in  relation to imports and exports. In Wales, in it is Natural Resources Body for Wales (NRA).


This Order applies to England and Wales and the UK’s offshore marine area. It also applies to controls on imports and exports from the UK.

The civil penalties available via this Order are not relevant to Scotland and Northern Ireland.

The Order comes into force on 1st October 2019 to allow for public consultation on management measures before licences and permits are required. This is a requirement of The IAS Regulation.



Offences and penalties

Criminal offences are introduced for breaches of the main restrictions of The IAS Regulation, as well as offences relating to:

  • false statements;
  • altering, or not meeting, the conditions of permits and licences;
  • attempts to commit offences;
  • obstruction; and
  • offences for companies and partnerships.

It is also an offence to:

  • Allow the escape or release into the wild an animal that is not normally a resident or regular visitor to Great Britain, or an animal listed in Part 1 of Schedule 2, including species of crabs, ducks and squirrel.
  • Plant, or allow to grow in the wild, plants listed in Part 2 of Schedule 2.
  • Sell, or be involved in the sale of, any plant listed in Part 3 of Schedule 2, including Water Primrose and Floating Pennywort.

These offences aim to act as a deterrent and give regulators the flexibility needed for the most serious breaches.

Offences also relate to any person in, or on, a ship in offshore marine area waters or an offshore marine installation (i.e. an artificial structure, other than a ship, within offshore marine area waters), but not a person on a ship from outside the EU.

If found guilty of an offence a person may be liable to imprisonment of up to 2 years, or a fine. Permits and licences may be made void where an offence is committed and a person may be banned from being granted a permit or licences again for up to 5 years.

Civil penalties are available to allow for proportionate response to minor breaches and are listed in Schedule 3.


Competent authorities in England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland are:

  • the Secretary of State; as well as
  • Welsh Ministers / Scottish Minister / Department of Agriculture, Environment, and Rural Affairs (Defra);
  • Food Standards Agency / Food Standards Scotland;
  • county councils, district / country borough councils; and
  • port health authorities (in England and Wales).


Enforcement officers and customs officials have the powers to enforce the Order which include:

  • stop and search powers;
  • powers of entry, including without a warrant at a reasonable time where there are grounds to suspect that a specimen is being kept on the premises;
  • powers to seize, examine and take samples; and
  • powers to recover costs associated with enforcement.


Enforcement of the IAS Regulation at the UK border

Live specimens of invasive species can be seized by Border Force officials. Where this occurs, consignments should be passed to the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) for appropriate handling, e.g. re-export, transfer to appropriate facility, or euthanisation.


Permits are issued by APHA and the Centre for Environment and Aquaculture Science (CEAS) for aquatic animals.

Permits are issued for import, keeping, and breeding of specimens (but not for sale or release as this is prohibited at all times) in the following cases:

  • Research.
  • Ex-situ conservation (outside the natural habitat).
  • Production and use of products for the advancement of human health.

Where there is an exceptional reason of compelling public interest a permit may be granted for a reason other than those stated above, through the procedure in Article 9 of The IAS Regulation.

Permits are only issued for activities which meet the conditions of Article 8 (2) and (3) of The IAS Regulation, which are detailed in Part 2 of Schedule 1. This includes the requirement for specimens to be kept in contained holdings.

Contained holding means keeping in closed facilities which it is not possible to escape from. Cleaning, waste handling, maintenance, disposal, and culling must be done in a way that reproducible parts can not escape / reproduction cannot occur outside of the holding.

Permits can be revoked or suspended at any time where APHA or CEAS feels there is a risk of negative environmental impact, risk of escape, or spread.

APHA and CEAS may carry out inspections to ensure that conditions of the permit are being met.


Licenses issued by Natural England and NRW are available for certain otherwise prohibited activities. For example, licences may be granted for:

  • Implementation of eradication methods, to ensure rapid eradication at an early stage of invasion (as required by Article 17 of The IAS Regulation).
  • Implementation of management measures for IAS that are widely spread (as required by Article 19 of The IAS Regulation).
  • Temporary commercial use of an already established IAS as part of management measures to control the population, eradicate or contain the IAS (as allowed by Article 19(2) of The IAS Regulation).
  • Keeping and transport of an animal which was previously a pet but has been given to a permitted facility as the owner could not meet the conditions required to keep the animal until the end of its life (as allowed by Article 31(4) of The IAS Regulation).

Licences may be modified, suspended, or revoked at any time.


The Secretary of State is required to publish a report on a review of the regulatory provisions in this Order and any relevant objectives every 5 years, with the first due by 1st October 2024.


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