In order to be able to certify seed a company must first of all be registered with Defra.
The seed certification system for England and Wales uses a system of ‘building blocks’, with a block representing National Listing of a variety, one block representing the ‘crop stage’ of production and the final block being the ‘seed stage’.
Only when all three ‘blocks’ have been completed can a seed lot be certified.
In order to be added to the National List a variety must have successfully completed at least two years of trials and evaluation and two years of testing for distinctness, uniformity and stability. These tests establish that the variety has a value for cultivation and use and that it is a new variety that remains ‘true to type’ through successive generations.
A pedigree system operates which tightly controls the multiplication of seed. All seed producing crops must be sown with a known seed lot that has been approved for the production of certain categories of seed.
All crops multiplying seed for certification must be sown with seed of a known pedigree.
Once the seed crop has been harvested, the seed is cleaned and tested and must meet appropriate standards before it can be used for further multiplication or sold on to farmers for commercial use.
Defra produce useful Guides to Seed Certification and the Regulations.