Egg marketing standards

How to market eggs, including rules on registration, egg marking, salmonella control and egg marketing inspections in England and Wales.

Applies to England and Wales

This guidance is for businesses that produce or pack hen eggs for human consumption.

It also applies to hatching eggs and farmyard poultry chicks from:

  • hens
  • turkeys
  • geese
  • ducks
  • guinea fowl

Register your poultry with the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA)

If you keep 50 or more chickens, ducks or other poultry, of any mix, you must register your poultry with APHA.

You’ll need to apply for a county parish holding (CPH) number if you do not already have one.

It’s free to register.

If you keep less than 50 birds, including any you keep as pets, you should register your birds.

Register your premises with APHA

You must register your premises with APHA if you are an egg production site, egg packing centre, hatchery or breeding site. You must register before you start to sell eggs or chicks.

It’s free to register.

Register as an egg production site (laying hen establishment)

You must register your premises with APHA if you:

  • send any of your eggs for grading at a registered egg packing centre
  • have 50 or more hens and you sell ungraded eggs at a local public market
  • have 350 or more hens

This includes cage, barn, free range or organic egg-producing hens.

You’ll get a number (a producer code) for your registered premises, which is made up of:

  • a digit (0 for organic, 1 for free range, 2 for barn or 3 for cage) to show the farming method
  • a code to show the country of origin
  • a unique identification number for your premises

To sell eggs to shops, catering outlets or restaurants you must also register your premises as an egg packing centre. Only egg packing centres can grade eggs. The eggs must be graded as Class A for retail and catering.

Register as an egg packing centre

To grade and pack eggs on your premises for sale to retail or catering, you must:

In the event of a bird flu (avian influenza) outbreak, you might also need to apply to designate your egg packing centre.

It’s free to apply for designation.

Register as a hatchery or breeding site

You must register your premises with APHA if you intend to operate a:

  • hatchery and you have capacity for 1,000 or more eggs
  • breeding site with 100 or more breeding birds

Mark your eggs

You must stamp your eggs with your producer code if you sell:

  • eggs graded as Class A
  • ungraded eggs at local public markets and you have over 50 hens

The producer code is used to identify and trace eggs .

You do not need to stamp your eggs with a producer code if you:

  • sell your eggs directly to consumers - for their own use - from your own farm or door to door in your local area
  • have fewer than 50 birds and you sell at a local public market

To sell your eggs at local public markets you must still display:

  • your name
  • your address
  • the best before date (maximum of 28 days from date of lay)
  • advice to keep eggs chilled after purchase

Some markets have their own rule that you must stamp the producer code on hen eggs.

Free range status of eggs from areas with housing measures

You may be in a bird flu disease control zone where you must house your birds. Check what zone you’re in and follow the rules for that zone. You can label your eggs as free range for 16 weeks from the date that the birds were housed.

For longer term concerns about loss of free range status contact your APHA Egg Marketing Inspector (EMI).

To find your local EMI contact APHA or email:

Join an assurance scheme

You can apply to be part of an assurance scheme .

The British Lion Mark scheme requires egg producers and packing centres to follow a strict code of practice.

The Laid in Britain scheme requires egg producers and packing centres to follow a strict code of practice developed by poultry vets.

Apply to the schemes directly.


APHA egg marketing inspectors (EMIs) inspect registered egg production sites, packing centres, wholesalers and hatcheries. They make sure that the eggs being produced and sold meet the marketing standards.

APHA EMIs inspect all premises in England and Wales where hen eggs are produced, graded, packed, imported and sold in any way.

Find out more about egg marketing inspection.

To find your local EMI, email

Salmonella control in flocks of laying chickens

Salmonella infection in eggs can cause serious illness in humans and can be transmitted in or on poultry eggs from both breeding and laying flocks.

You must test your hens for salmonella if you:

  • commercially produce chicken eggs intended for human consumption
  • have over 350 laying hens

Testing is part of the UK National Control Programme (NCP) for salmonella.

You must not sell eggs for human consumption which have originated from flocks:

  • infected with Salmonella Enteritidis or Salmonella Typhimurium (there will be official controls on these flocks)
  • of ‘unknown health status’ (not tested according to the NCP) unless those eggs are heat-treated (pasteurised) to eliminate possible salmonella infection

You do not have to comply with NCP testing if either:

  • all the eggs you produce are for private domestic use
  • you have fewer than 350 hens and you supply directly to the consumer or through local retailers

Dispose of waste or surplus eggs

You must follow rules on disposing animal by-products and surplus or waste eggs.

Every part of an egg that is not for human consumption is at least a category 3 animal by-product (low risk).

Eggs from hens showing signs of transmissible disease are a category 2 animal by-product (high risk). You must follow further rules on how you dispose of category 2 eggs.

Sell eggs internationally

Find out how to:

Tell APHA if your circumstances change

Tell your local EMI if your circumstances change, for example if you:

  • stop keeping poultry
  • reduce or increase the number of birds you keep

Contact your EMI directly or email

Updates to this page

Published 31 December 2020
Last updated 12 December 2023 + show all updates
  1. Updated the text around registering birds and added new link to online service for registering less that 50 birds.

  2. Added a new section about free range status of eggs from areas with housing measures for birds.

  3. Updated the 'Importing eggs from non-EU countries to Great Britain' labelling guidance. Great Britain labelling changes have been delayed from 1 October 2022 until 1 January 2024.

  4. Changes to import controls previously due to come into effect on 1 July 2022 have been postponed. The page will be updated in autumn 2022 with new dates for import controls.

  5. Import controls on EU goods to Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales) planned from July will not be introduced in 2022. The controls that have already been introduced remain in place. This page will be updated in autumn 2022.

  6. Updated guidance on completing a health certificate for eggs imported from the EU to Great Britain.

  7. New guidance for bringing goods back to Great Britain if they have been rejected for import.

  8. First published.

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