Balai Directive: moving live animals, semen and embryos

The animals, semen and embryos covered by the Balai Directive and how to move them in the EU, the UK or to and from non-EU countries.

If you’re moving traditional livestock (cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, or poultry), animals that aren’t intended for display or conservation, or pet dogs, cats and ferrets that meet pet travel rules, you’ll need to use the following guidance:

Otherwise, you may have to follow the rules of the Balai Directive as explained in this guidance - talk to your vet if you’re unsure which rules apply to the animals you want to move.

Animals, semen and embryos covered by Balai

You must follow this guidance if you’re moving the following animals:

  • more than 5 pets per traveller in your party - or any pets that can’t be joined by their owner within 5 days
  • dogs, cats and ferrets that are being rehomed or don’t meet pet travel rules
  • simian primates, monkeys and apes
  • prosimian primates, eg lemurs, bushbabies, lorises, aye ayes and tarsiers
  • ungulates (hooved animals) that aren’t farm animals, eg llamas, alpacas, antelopes, camels, wild pigs, tapirs, rhinos, giraffes, elephants, hippos
  • captive birds and poultry for exhibitions, shows, and contests which aren’t covered by poultry or bird legislation
  • honey bees
  • jackals, foxes, wolves, African wild dogs, hyaenas
  • bears, eg polar, black, brown, grizzly, pandas or giant pandas
  • raccoons, coatis, and other new world procyonids
  • otters, martens, polecats, badgers, skunks, wolverines
  • non-domestic cats like pumas, cheetahs, lions, tigers and leopards
  • bats, eg vampire bats, flying foxes, fruit bats, gliders
  • flying lemurs and flying squirrels
  • marsupials, eg koalas, kangaroos, wombats or wallabies
  • possums, bandicoots, bilbys, quolls and Tasmanian devils
  • anteaters, sloths, armadillos
  • shrews, moles and hedgehogs
  • rabbits and hares
  • rodents, eg gophers, squirrels, mice, rats, hamsters, voles, beavers, gerbils

You must also follow this guidance if you’re moving semen or embryos that aren’t bovine or porcine.

You can’t import any live ungulates (horses, cattle, giraffes, camels, deer, hippopotamuses) or whales and dolphins into the UK from non-EU countries, unless you have an agreement from

Check the importer information notes to find out the latest information about importing live animals semen or embryos under the Balai Directive.

Importing, exporting and EU trade

If you move animals from an EU country to a non-EU country, this is considered exporting.

If you move animals into an EU country from a non-EU country, this is considered importing.

If you move animals from one EU country to another, this is considered EU trade.

Get an animal health certificate

You must have an animal health certificate to trade any live animals, birds, bees, plus the ova, embryos and semen of these animals.

You must make sure that animals or germinal product travel with their health certificates.

You can find template certificates in Annex E of the Balai Directive, part 1, 2 and 3.

You must ask your vet to do each of the following:

Before the move happens, the vet should also:

  • tell the APHA if you’re in England, Scotland or Wales
  • tell DARD, if you’re in Northern Ireland

They can find out how to do this using the TRACES support documents on the Animal and Plant Health Agency vet gateway.

Approval and registration

Whether you need to get your holding registered or approved depends on the animals you want to move and the sites you want to send them to or receive them from.

To get your holding registered or approved you need to contact:

  • APHA if your holding is in England, Scotland or Wales
  • DARD if your holding is in Northern Ireland

If you don’t do this, your holding is considered unregistered.

Animals that registered holdings can trade

If your holding is registered, you can only trade the following animals, and only with registered or unregistered holdings in EU member states:

  • ungulates that aren’t livestock
  • birds that aren’t commercial poultry
  • rabbits and hares
  • dogs, cats and ferrets that aren’t pets

You can’t trade with approved holdings.

You need to put rabies-susceptible animals into quarantine.

How to register your holding

To register your holding, complete form EC3163 and send it to:

You must run your holding based on the conditions set out on the form.

You’ll be given a registration number which you’ll need to use on your animal health certificates.

Moving animals from registered or unregistered holdings

Sending animals

If your holding is registered, you can send animals from the UK to either a registered or unregistered holding in another EU member state.

You can also send them to an approved holding, unless they are carnivores or primates.

Receiving animals

If your holding is registered, you can bring animals into the UK from another registered holding in an EU member state.

To do this in England, Wales or Scotland contact the APHA.

Contact your local DARD direct office if you’re in Northern Ireland.

They’ll tell you the requirements you need to follow - these depend on the animal and the country of origin but can include:

  • testing for avian influenza, tuberculosis, equine infectious anaemia, brucella or other diseases
  • putting the animal into rabies quarantine

If your holding is unregistered, you can only bring in the following animals from registered or approved holdings in EU member states:

  • ungulates
  • birds
  • rabbits and hares
  • cats, dogs and ferrets that aren’t pets

Unregistered holdings can’t trade in carnivores or primates.

Animals that approved holdings can trade

If your holding is approved, you can trade carnivores or primates ,semen or embryos as well as the rest of the animals covered by Balai.

Approved holdings must only take in animals from other approved holdings - see a list of approved UK holdings.

You can also contact the APHA or DARD to get a waiver that may allow you to accept rabies-susceptible animals without putting them into quarantine on arrival.

How to get your holding approved

To get your holding approved, complete form EC3164 and send it to your regional veterinary lead (RVL).

To find your RVL in England, Scotland and Wales contact your local APHA office.

Contact your local DARD direct office to find your RVL if you’re in Northern Ireland.

You also must have your holding inspected by an animal health veterinary officer - APHA or DARD will arrange this.

The inspector will check your holding to make sure that it has:

  • secure boundaries separating it from the surrounding area, eg walls, fences or other barriers
  • equipment, facilities and staff to catch, confine and isolate animals
  • quarantine facilities where you can isolate and test animals that come from non-approved holdings
  • a surveillance programme for incoming animals that’s been agreed with your vet
  • a clean and separated facility for carrying out post-mortems
  • a system for disposing of carcasses that’s been agreed with your vet

You also must make sure you:

You’ll be given an approval number to use on your animal health certificates.

Moving animals from approved holdings to registered holdings

If you want to move animals from an approved holding to a registered holding, you must contact either:

Re-inspection for approved holdings

If your holding is approved, it must pass an annual re-inspection, carried out by a whole-time veterinary officer (WTVO) - they’ll check it still meets the approval conditions.

It’s your responsibility to make sure your holding is annually re-inspected and re-approved, but the WTVO will usually contact you to arrange this.

When approval gets suspended

If your approval is removed you’ll no longer be able to trade animals with other approved holdings.


Your regional veterinary laboratory (RVL) will temporarily suspend your holding’s approval if they find cases of:

  • any notifiable disease
  • viral enteritis or aleutian disease in mink
  • tuberculosis in apes and non-domestic cats
  • European foulbrood, varroasis or acariasis in bees
  • myxomatosis, viral haemorraghic disease, tularaemia in rabbits and hares

Breaking approval conditions

The RVL can also suspend your approval if your holding no longer meets any one of the approval conditions.

How long suspensions last

The length of time the RVL suspends your approval for depends on the reason for the suspension.

You’ll be given time to fix the problem - if you don’t do this the RVL may withdraw your approval.

When approval gets withdrawn

If you can’t prove to the RVL that your holding has fixed the problem which led to suspension, your approval may be withdrawn.

Approval for a holding will always be suspended before it’s withdrawn.

Licenses you may need

If your holding is approved or registered, you may still need licenses.

Dangerous wild animals

You must apply for a licence under the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976 if you keep:

  • primates
  • wild cats
  • wild dogs or wolves
  • wild boar
  • marsupials, eg kangaroos, wallabies, wombats

Endangered species

If you’re moving endangered species covered by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species(CITES), you’ll need a permit from APHA.

The APHA will decide whether to issue a permit based on the endangered status of the animals you’re bringing in and where they’re coming from.

Bringing in rabies-susceptible animals

Find out how to bring rabies-susceptible animals into the UK.

Importing ungulates from non-EU countries

If you want to import ungulates (hooved mammals) from non-EU countries, talk to either:

  • the APHA if you’re in England, Scotland or Wales
  • DARD if you’re in Northern Ireland
Published 11 March 2015