Distinctness, Uniformity and Stability (DUS) is an intellectual property system introduced in 1961 by the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV) for safeguarding the investment and rewarding innovation in developing new plant varieties. Despite the rapid advancement in our understanding of crop biology over the past 60 years, the DUS system has changed little and is still largely dependent upon a set of morphological traits for testing candidate varieties. As the demand for more plant varieties increases, the barriers to registration of new varieties become more acute and thus require urgent review to the system. To highlight the challenges and remedies in the current system, we evaluated a comprehensive panel of 805 UK barley varieties that span the entire history of DUS testing. Our findings reveal the system deficiencies such as inconsistencies in DUS traits across environments, limitations in DUS trait combinatorial space, and inadequacies in currently available DUS markers. We advocate the concept of genomic DUS and provide evidence for a shift towards a robust genomics-enabled registration system for new crop varieties.