Guidance

Export or move animal germplasm (semen, ova and embryos)

What you need to do to export animal germplasm (semen, ova, and embryos).

This guidance applies to businesses in Great Britain (GB) (England, Scotland and Wales) exporting or moving animal germplasm (semen, ova and embryos) to, or through:

  • the EU
  • non-EU countries
  • Northern Ireland (NI)

Some countries have import rules for germplasm. You can check by talking to your importer or getting help researching your export market.

You need an export health certificate (EHC) to export germplasm.

There are different rules if you’re exporting germplasm from endangered animals.

Export or move germplasm to the EU or NI

You need an EHC to:

  • export germplasm from GB to the EU
  • move germplasm from GB to Northern Ireland (NI)
  • transit through the EU and NI

You also need to:

Check if you need an EHC

Check the EHC finder to see if a certificate exists for your germplasm.

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 NI or 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. DAERA is the competent authority in NI.

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.

If you’re moving animal semen, ova and embryos (germplasm) to NI, you do not need to pay for them to be inspected and certified. The certifier invoices the government for these costs as part of the Movement Assistance Scheme.

General exporting rules

Make sure you follow wider business guidance for changes to exporting to the EU.

EU listing of establishments

You’ll need to be listed as an approved establishment with the EU if you export germplasm. Contact APHA Centre for International Trade to be listed.

Checks at EU BCPs or point of entry in NI

You must get your germplasm checked at an EU BCP or point of entry in NI, from 1 January 2021.

These checks are made to protect:

  • animal health and welfare
  • public health

Your goods may be refused entry, seized, destroyed or returned to GB if they arrive at:

  • a port in the EU without a BCP where checks cannot be carried out
  • an EU BCP that cannot check your type of product
  • an EU BCP without the correct documentation

Find the correct BCP for your goods

You must find a BCP that accepts germplasm - as not all BCPs accept all goods. You’ll need to consider how to redirect your trade route if needed.

There are more than 400 BCPs in the EU and they’re usually at EU ports and airports.

Check the full list of EU BCPs.

Give advance notice to EU BCPs or point of entry in NI

You’ll need to give EU BCPs or points of entry in NI advance notice of goods arriving.

Check with the BCP or point of entry you’re planning to use for how much notice is needed.

Contact your import agent in the EU or NI to make sure they notify the BCP through Trade Control and Expert System (TRACES) of the arrival of the consignment.

They must do this within the time limits set out by the BCP or point of entry.

What happens if your goods fail inspection at a BCP

If your goods fail inspection because of risks to animal or public health, they will be destroyed immediately. If the goods fail for other reasons, the BCP will:

  • notify your importer or agent
  • ask them to decide whether your goods should be destroyed or returned to GB

The BCP will not usually contact you directly.

Germplasm rejected from an EU BCP

Germplasm rejected at EU BCPs may, subject to a risk assessment, re-enter GB through any point of entry.

Rejected goods are consignments rejected by the competent authority in an EU country. Consignments rejected for commercial reasons cannot be returned as rejected goods.

There are certain documentary requirements to return rejected goods to GB from the EU. The Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) will notify you if the returned consignment needs to enter through a BCP or can enter through any point of entry.

Document requirements for rejected germinal products

To return a consignment, email APHA Centre for International Trade (CIT) at imports@apha.gov.uk.

In the title of the email, state clearly that the message relates to the return of a consignment.

Attach these documents to the email:

  • a declaration from the EU BCP describing the reason for refusal of entry
  • full details of destination in GB and the intended use or destruction of the returned consignment from the person responsible for the consignment
  • the original export certificate for the returned product
  • a declaration stating that the consignment has remained sealed with an intact original seal or an official seal applied by the EU BCP

If the consignment did not require a veterinary certificate or did not have a certificate for export you must present a commercial invoice or similar that verifies the returned consignment corresponds with the one that was exported.

You must have an official declaration from the EU BCP if any of the following apply:

  • the products have been unloaded, stored, re-loaded in the EU
  • the original seal has been replaced
  • the products were not originally exported in a sealed container

The official declaration must state the:

  • place and date of unloading, storage and re-loading and the seal number put on the container after reloading
  • reasons for unloading and storage

The official declaration must confirm that the:

  • seal on the vehicle or container of the consignment was only broken for the purpose of official controls
  • products were handled only to the extent necessary, and in particular at the appropriate temperature
  • products were handled in a way that prevents cross contamination during the official controls
  • vehicle or container was immediately re-sealed after the official controls

APHA will assess these documents to decide the conditions of import and if the consignment can be returned through any point of entry or will have to enter through a BCP.

APHA will issue you with a written authorisation. The consignment cannot be returned until you have received this authorisation. You must comply with the conditions of the authorisation.

The imports@apha.gov.uk email address is monitored Monday to Friday, 8:30am to 5pm (excluding public holidays).

Export to non-EU countries

You’ll usually need to complete an export health certificate (EHC) and some supporting documents to export germplasm to non-EU countries.

Check the EHC finder to see if a certificate exists for your germplasm.

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

If you cannot find an EHC for your product, 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

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.

Germplasm from endangered animals

Use the Species+ tool to search for the animal that the germplasm came from. Check which annex (A, B, C or D) it’s classified as under EU wildlife trade regulations.

If Species+ says the animal is banned, you cannot export it.

If the species is listed, you may also need Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) permits to export the germplasm from GB. Follow the advice on exporting endangered species.

We need your help to improve GOV.UK

If you need to export goods to the EU, or move goods into Northern Ireland, we’d like to hear about your experiences. If you’re happy for us to contact you, please fill in this short form. Your feedback will help us improve our services and guidance.

Published 9 November 2016
Last updated 13 June 2022 + show all updates
  1. Removed guidance on import controls that are no longer being introduced in July 2022.

  2. Updated some of the dates that the post EU-exit rules apply if Germplasm is rejected at a BCP.

  3. Updated dates in sections on germplasm being rejected from an EU Border Control Post (BCP).

  4. Updated with guidance on how to comply with rules from 1 January.

  5. Added notes about change in export process from 1 Jan 2021.

  6. Highlighted information on what may happen in a no-deal Brexit. Also restructured guidance to make it easier to follow.

  7. Updated information on application processing times and email addresses, and updated links on what to do in a no deal Brexit.

  8. Added information for exporters about how to get an export health certificate if the UK leaves the EU without a deal.

  9. EHC List updated

  10. Export Health Certificate list updated

  11. EHC List updated

  12. First published.