Logo Svalbard Globale Seed Vault

Management and operations

Depositor agreement including other regulations and procedures are under development and will be made available through this website by the Nordic Genebank.

Free of cost
The Svalbard Global Seed Vault will provide facilities free of cost for safety deposits under “black box conditions” on request from public or private holders of seeds of distinct genetic resources that are important to humanity. Priority will be given to the safety deposit of plant genetic resources of importance for food security and sustainable agriculture.

Packaging and shipment
Costs pertaining to the packaging and shipping of the deposited seeds will be borne by the depositors. However, in the case of developing countries and international genebanks, the Global Crop Diversity Trust is funding the costs of preparing, packing and shipping their seeds to Svalbard.

- 18°C
The material deposited will be maintained in permafrost conditions supplemented by refrigeration in accordance with internationally agreed standards. 

International regulations
The depositors who will deposit material will do so consistently with relevant national and international law. The Seed Vault will only agree to receive seeds that are shared under the Multilateral System or under Article 15 of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA) or seeds that have originated in the country of the depositor. 

Replacement policy
The Seed Vault will not have the opportunity to test the viability of the seeds, but will accept new shipments of seeds when the duplicate samples at the depositor’s possession have lost fertility.

Black boxes
"Black box arrangements" mean;

  • that the deposit of the seeds will not affect any property or other rights pertaining to the material;
  • that the deposited seeds will remain in sealed envelopes, unless otherwise agreed with the Depositor; 
  • That the Svalbard Global Seed Vault will take no action to further transfer the material except back to the original Depositor or the Depositor’s successor in title, or in accordance with the Depositor’s instructions.


The Svalbard Global Seed Vault is financed by three Norwegian Ministries:
The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, The Norwegian Ministry of Environment and The Norwegian Ministry of Agriculture and Food.

  • The Seed Vault is built and technically operated by The Directorate of Public Construction and Property.

  • The Nordic Genetic Resource Centre is responsible for the management and operations of the Seed Vault. 

  • The Global Crop Diversity Trust provides scientifical guidance and assistance in organizing shipments of seeds. The Trust will also finance a large part of the management and operation of the Seed Vault. 

  • The Governor of Svalbard is responsible for the overall security of the Seed Vault. 

  • FAO Commision on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (CGRFA) and the Governing Body of the International Treaty for Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA) provide the Global Framework for the Seed Vault. The seed Vault will contribute to the FAO Global System for Plant Genetic Resources.

Last updated: 08.10.2012
Ministry of Agriculture

Facts 3

Of the nearly 8.000 varieties of apple that grew in the United States at the turn of the century, more than 95 percent no longer exist