Guidance on importing and exporting live animals or animal products

Collection of guidance and forms for importing, exporting and moving live animals and animal products.


This collection of guidance covers importing, exporting and moving live animals and animal products.

You should read guidance on pet travel if you’re bringing or returning your pet to the UK.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): send applications by email

If possible, you should send any applications by email as staff may not be able to collect post during the coronavirus outbreak.

Please apply in advance to avoid delay - the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) is dealing with a high volume of applications.

Topical issues

Imports or moves to the UK from all countries

Exports or moves from the UK to all countries

Moving goods or animals between EU countries

Balai Directive: animals, semen and embryos for research, display and conservation

Endangered species

Non-native animals

Poultry Health Scheme

Animal pathogens

Artificial breeding controls

Welfare of animals in transport

Identifying livestock, including identifying for export

Published 12 September 2014
Last updated 16 June 2021 + show all updates
  1. Added links to importing composites and importing products of animal origin guides.

  2. Added new group with content on identifying livestock, including for export.

  3. Added coronavirus statement on sending applications by email.

  4. Added guidance on importing and exporting after the UK leaves the EU

  5. Removed message on flooding at Carlisle

  6. Added link to new guidance on importing non-native animals

  7. Added links to new guides on general imports licences and authorisations, and topical issues.

  8. First published.

  1. Step 1 Check if you need to follow this process

  2. Step 2 Get your business ready to import

    You need an EORI number that starts with GB to import goods into England, Wales or Scotland. You'll need a new one if you have an EORI that does not start with GB.

    If you move goods to or from Northern Ireland you may need one that starts with XI.

    1. Get an EORI number

    There are processes that can make clearing customs quicker and easier to manage if you have to make import declarations regularly.

    1. Find out about using simplified declaration procedures
    2. Check if Authorised Economic Operator status is right for you
  3. and Check the business sending you the goods can export to the UK

    The business sending you the goods may need:

    • to make an export declaration in their country
    • licences or certificates to send goods to the UK

    Check whoever is sending the goods is able to export them from their country.

  4. Step 3 Decide who will make customs declarations and transport the goods

    You can hire someone to deal with customs and transport the goods for you, or you can do it yourself.

    Most businesses that import goods use a transporter or customs agent.

    1. Find out how to hire someone to deal with customs for you
  5. Step 4 Find out the commodity code for your goods

    You’ll need to include the commodity code on your import declaration. This will determine the rate of duty you need to pay and if you need an import licence.

    Your customs agent or transporter might be able to help you with this.

    1. Find the right commodity code for your goods
  6. and Work out the value of your goods

    When you make your import declaration, you’ll need to include the value of your goods - this helps work out how much duty and VAT you’ll need to pay.

    1. Work out the value of your goods for customs
  7. Step 5 Find out if you can reduce your Customs Duty

    You may be able to pay less or no Customs Duty if the UK has a trade agreement with the country you're importing from.

    1. Find out if you can pay a lower rate of Customs Duty because of a trade agreement

    You may also be able to reduce the amount of duty you pay based on what the goods are and what you plan to do with them.

    1. Check other ways you can pay a lower rate of Customs Duty
  8. and Find out if you can delay your Customs Duty

    You may be able to delay sending information about goods or paying Customs Duty.

    1. Check if you can delay your Customs Duty
  9. Step 6 Check if you need a licence or certificate for your goods

  10. Step 7 Check the labelling, marking and marketing rules

  11. Step 8 Get your goods through customs

    If you've appointed someone to deal with UK customs for you, they'll make the declaration and get your goods through the UK border.

    1. Make an import declaration yourself and get your goods cleared by UK customs
  12. Step 9 Claim a VAT refund

    If you're VAT registered, you can claim back any VAT you paid on the goods you've imported. You’ll need your Import VAT Certificate (C79).

    1. Find out how to claim a VAT refund
  13. Step 10 If you paid the wrong amount of duty or rejected the goods

    If you paid too much Customs Duty or import VAT or rejected the goods, you can claim a refund or ask for a payment to be waived.

    1. Find out how to claim a refund or make a claim for rejected imports

    If you paid too little Customs Duty or import VAT, report it to HMRC.

    1. Find out how to tell HMRC you’ve underpaid and pay the difference
  14. Step 11 Keep invoices and records

    You must keep records of commercial invoices and any customs paperwork, including your Import VAT Certificate (C79).

    If you imported controlled goods, for example firearms, keep any paperwork that shows who owns them.