Guidance

Balai Directive: moving live animals, semen and embryos

How to move animals for research, display and conservation and what you’ll need to do if there’s a no-deal Brexit.

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The Balai Directive tells you what to do if you need to move certain animals that are not traditional livestock and their germplasm (semen, ova and embryos).

Animals, semen and embryos covered by Balai

Follow this guidance if you’re moving:

  • simian primates, monkeys and apes
  • prosimian primates, eg lemurs, bushbabies, lorises, aye ayes and tarsiers
  • ungulates (hooved animals) that aren’t farm animals, for example 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, for example, koalas, kangaroos, wombats or wallabies
  • possums, bandicoots, bilbys, quolls and Tasmanian devils
  • anteaters, sloths, armadillos
  • shrews, moles and hedgehogs
  • rabbits and hares
  • rodents, for example, gophers, squirrels, mice, rats, hamsters, voles, beavers, gerbils
  • 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
  • semen or embryos that aren’t bovine or porcine.

To move other animals that are not for display or conservation

You’ll need to follow separate guidance:

Talk to your vet if you’re not sure which rules apply to the animals you want to move.

If there’s a no-deal Brexit

Rules for moving Balai animals to and from EU countries will change, if there’s a no-deal Brexit.

Importing to the UK from the EU

You can continue to bring Balai animals into the UK from EU countries if there’s a no-deal Brexit.

The process for notifying the UK authorities about these imports would change and your vet will no longer be able to use TRACES.

Follow the guidance for what you’ll need to do to import animals and animal products into the UK in a no-deal Brexit.

Exporting from the UK to the EU

In a no-deal Brexit, you’ll need to check the export health certificate (EHC) finder to see if a certificate exists for your Balai animal or product.

If you find an EHC, follow the EHC process to export.

In many cases, there are no EHCs to export Balai animals or animal products to the EU.

If you cannot find an EHC, you’ll need to contact the competent authority in the EU country you’re exporting to, in advance, to find out what:

  • paperwork you’ll need to fill in
  • rules you need to comply with

The competent authority means the equivalent of the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in the EU country you’re exporting to.

If the competent authority says that you need an EHC, you’ll need to get their import conditions. Email the conditions to APHA at exports@apha.gov.uk who’ll arrange an EHC for you.

Plan your trade route so that your consignment can be inspected at a border inspection post that can accept your type of goods.

Export to a non-EU country via the EU

In a no-deal Brexit, you would need to contact any EU countries you’ll transit, to check if you need an EHC to travel through that country.

If the competent authority in an EU country says that you need an EHC to transit, you’ll need to get their import conditions.

Email the conditions to APHA at exports@apha.gov.uk who’ll arrange an EHC for you.

Balai approved or registered premises

The UK will continue the current system of registering and approving holdings in the UK.

But it’s likely that the EU will no longer recognise UK Balai-approved or registered premises.

You’ll need to contact the competent authority of the EU country you’re exporting to, to find out what their import conditions are. .

Current rules: movement between the UK and EU countries

You must have an intra trade animal health certificate (ITAHC) to move the following between EU countries:

  • any live animals
  • birds
  • bees
  • the ova, embryos and semen of these animals

Apply for an ITAHC in TRACES and notify APHA by emailing exports@apha.gov.uk when you have done this.

Ask your vet to:

  • inspect the animal, semen or embryos before they are moved
  • complete the health certificates with the EU Trade Notification System (TRACES)

Before the move happens, the vet should send a copy of the completed ITAHC to:

  • APHA if you’re in England, Scotland or Wales
  • DAERA, if you’re in Northern Ireland

Make sure that your animals or germplasm travel with their ITAHCs.

Current rules: movement between the UK and non-EU countries

Importing to the UK from non-EU countries

Follow the guidance for importing animals from non-EU countries.

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.

Exporting from the UK to non-EU countries

Check the EHC finder to see if a certificate exists for your Balai animal or product. If you find an EHC, follow the EHC process to export.

If you cannot find an EHC, you’ll need to contact the competent authority in the country you’re exporting to, in advance, to find out what:

  • paperwork you’ll need to fill in
  • rules you need to comply with

The competent authority means the equivalent of the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in the country you’re exporting to.

If the competent authority says that you need an EHC, you’ll need to get their import conditions. Email the conditions to APHA at exports@apha.gov.uk who’ll arrange an EHC for you.

Current rules: holdings in the UK and EU

Follow the guidance in this section to understand the holding rules that apply to trade between the UK and the EU.

If you’re exporting to non-EU countries, your EHC and its supporting documents will contain any requirements for registering or approving your holding.

How to get your premises registered or approved

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
  • DAERA if your holding is in Northern Ireland

If you do not 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 cannot trade with approved holdings.

You need to put rabies-susceptible animals into quarantine.

To register your holding, complete the Application from the owner or manager of a premises for registration 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 ITAHCs.

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 APHA or DAERA 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 DAERA 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 DAERA 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.

Diseases on 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.

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 cannot 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 to the UK

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

Published 11 March 2015
Last updated 21 October 2019 + show all updates
  1. Updated info on Brexit deal.
  2. Added a section on what to do in a no-deal Brexit.
  3. First published.