Invasive alien species regulations

Invasive alien (non-native) species regulations

There are regulations to prevent and minimise the impact of the introduction and spread of non-native animals and plants.

The Invasive Alien Species (Enforcement and Permitting) Order 2019 gives effect to EU regulations on the prevention and management of the spread of invasive alien species. It lists 66 species which are of special concern. 14 of these species are found in Wales. 

The regulations apply to live specimens and anything they can reproduce from, such as seeds, spores and fragments of plants.

Find guidance on the legislation for animals of special concern on the website.

Find guidance on the legislation for plants of special concern on the website.

The regulations make it an offence to carry out any of the following activities with listed species, except where a licence, permit or exemption is in place:

  • import
  • keep
  • breed
  • transport (except transporting for eradication)
  • place on the market
  • exchange
  • allow to grow, cultivate or permit to reproduce
  • release into the environment 

What to do if you own an animal or plant species of special concern

Animals owned before the date they were placed on the list may be kept until the end of their natural life, with no requirement to apply for a licence, subject to certain conditions. 

Check conditions for keeping animals of special concern, on the website.

A commercial owner can sell or transfer stock within two years of the species being listed.

Check when the animal and plant species you own was first listed, on the website.

Which animal and plant species are included in the regulations

The lists of animal and plant species of concern can be found on the website.

The 14 species identified as being widely spread in England and Wales and requiring management are:


  • Nuttall’s waterweed (Elodea nuttallii)
  • Chilean rhubarb (Gunnera tinctoria)
  • Giant hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum)
  • Floating pennywort (Hydrocotyle ranunculoides)
  • Himalayan balsam (Impatiens glandulifera)
  • Curly waterweed (Lagarosiphon major)
  • American skunk cabbage (Lysichiton americanus)
  • Parrot’s feather (Myriophyllum aquaticum)


  • Egyptian goose (Alopochen aegyptiacus)
  • Chinese mitten crab (Eriocheir sinensis)
  • Muntjac deer (Muntiacus reevesi)
  • Signal crayfish (Pacifastacus leniusculus)
  • Grey squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis)
  • all subspecies of (Trachemys scripta) otherwise known as “slider terrapins”

Licensed activity

Under certain circumstances you may be able to obtain a licence to carry out an activity restricted by the regulations. Activities will only be allowed for the following purposes:

  • rapid eradication of newly arrived species
  • the management of a widely spread species
  • the keeping of an animal until the end of its natural life

You will not need a licence if you are transporting a listed species as part of an eradication or if you are carrying out measures that do not include restricted activities.

Any eradication actions should follow best practice and biosecurity guidelines.

Apply for a licence to move and keep a species of special concern.

Apply for a licence to carry out an activity associated with rapid eradication.

Apply for a licence to carry out an activity associated with managing a widely spread species of special concern. 


There is currently no charge associated with invasive alien species licences.

We are currently carrying out a strategic review of charging across the organisation. This review may lead to changes to how we recover the costs of some of the work we do, including the introduction of charges for applications that have previously been free. 

Import or use a species of special concern for research, ex-situ conservation, scientific or medicinal purposes 

You must apply for a permit from the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) to import or use a listed species for research, ex-situ conservation, scientific or medicinal purposes. 

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