Guidance

Export or move live animals

What you need to do to export live animals from the UK.

This guidance applies to businesses in Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales) exporting or moving live animals to, or through:

  • the EU
  • non-EU countries
  • Northern Ireland

You need an export health certificate (EHC) to export live animals.

Follow the rules in this guidance to find out what you need to do.

You need to follow different guidance for:

General exporting rules

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

Export or move live animals to the EU or Northern Ireland

You need an EHC to:

  • export live animals from Great Britain to the EU
  • move live animals from Great Britain to Northern Ireland
  • transit through the EU and Northern Ireland

You also need to:

Check if you need an EHC

Check the export health certificate (EHC) finder to see if a certificate exists for your animal.

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 Northern Ireland 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 Northern Ireland.

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 live animals to Northern Ireland, 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.

Checks at EU BCPs or point(s) of entry in Northern Ireland

You must get your animals and animal products checked at an EU BCP or point of entry in Northern Ireland.

These checks are made to protect:

  • animal health and welfare
  • public health

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

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

Find the correct BCP for your goods

You must find a BCP that accepts the live animal you’re exporting, as not all BCPs accept all live animals. 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(s) of entry in Northern Ireland

You’ll need to give EU BCPs or points of entry in Northern Ireland 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 Northern Ireland to make sure they notify the BCP through the 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 live animals fail inspection at a BCP

If your animal fails inspection because of risks to animal or public health, it will be destroyed immediately. If the animals 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 the UK

The BCP will not usually contact you directly.

Rejected live animals from 1 January 2021 to 28 February 2022

From 1 January 2021 to 28 February 2022, live animals rejected at EU BCPs may, subject to a risk assessment, re-enter Great Britain 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 Great Britain 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 live animals from 1 January 2021

To return a consignment, submit an import notification on the import of products, animals, food and feed system (IPAFFS).

If your consignment is rejected at a point of entry in Northern Ireland and does not include cattle from Northern Ireland, you do not need to submit a notification on IPAFFS. You should instead email APHA’s Centre for International Trade (CIT) at imports@apha.gov.uk. You must state in your email that you wish to return your consignment to Great Britain.

If your consignment is rejected at a point of entry in Northern Ireland and includes cattle from Northern Ireland, you must submit a notification on IPAFFS.

Attach these documents to the IPAFFS notification (or to your email if your consignment is rejected at a point of entry in Northern Ireland and does not include cattle):

  • the original export certificate and related documentation
  • statement from the EU BCP of the reasons why the returned animals were refused by the EU BCP
  • statement from the EU BCP with details of the premises in which the animals were kept since leaving Great Britain, for example in quarantine or in isolation
  • declaration by the person responsible for the returned animals that the import conditions relating to transport have been complied with in relation to the returned animals, such as animal welfare requirements
  • declaration by the person responsible for the animals that they have not been in contact with any other animal of a lesser health status since leaving Great Britain

For the IPAFFS notification, the ‘country of origin’ is the country where the rejecting BCP is located.

Email APHA Centre for International Trade (CIT) at imports@apha.gov.uk to tell them that you’ve submitted an IPAFFS notification.

In the title of the email:

  • state that the message is about an IPAFFS notification for the return of a consignment
  • include the Unique Notification Number that IPAFFS generates when the notification is submitted

APHA will assess this information to decide the conditions of import and if the consignment will have to be returned through any point of entry or 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.

Live animals rejected from an EU BCP from 1 March 2022

Returned live animals must enter Great Britain at an appropriately designated BCP for checks on entry from 1 March 2022. You must notify on IPAFFS and present the relevant documentation to the BCP as set out in the returned goods processes for live animals.

Documents to transport live animals

You need EU-issued documents to transport live animals:

  • direct from Great Britain to the EU
  • through the EU to a non-EU country

You should apply to an EU member state where you have representation to get a:

  • transport authorisation
  • certificate of competence
  • vehicle approval certificate

The EU will no longer recognise UK-issued versions of these documents.

You can use Great Britain-issued transporter authorisations, certificates of competence, and vehicle approval certificates in Northern Ireland.

You can use Northern Ireland-issued transporter authorisations, certificates of competence, and vehicle approval certificates in Great Britain.

Journey logs

To transport live animals from, or through, Great Britain to the EU you’ll need to apply for 2 journey logs:

  • one approved by the EU member state which is the first point of entry into the EU
  • one approved by APHA (or DAERA, if the journey originates in Northern Ireland)

For further information on documents to transport live animals, contact APHA: CITCarlisle@apha.gov.uk or DAERA.

Export to non-EU countries

You’ll usually need to complete an EHC and some supporting documents to export a live animal.

Check the EHC finder to see if a certificate exists for your animal or product. 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.

Welfare standards for transporting live animals

You must make sure you meet animal welfare standards when transporting animals.

Endangered animals

You need to follow some additional rules when exporting endangered animals.

Use the Species+ tool to search for your animal. 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 need Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) permits to export the animal from the UK. Follow the advice on exporting endangered species.

Regular exports for public exhibition

If you regularly take endangered animals abroad, you could use a travelling exhibition certificate, as described in this EU wildlife trade regulations guide (PDF, 2.7MB) instead of a CITES permit.

You can use the certificate within or outside the EU. It’s valid for 3 years and means you do not need to apply for permission each time.

Before you apply, you should contact APHA.

To apply, fill in travelling exhibition certificate (form FED0173).

Email or post the completed form to the APHA Centre for International Trade Bristol.

The fee is £74 and APHA aims to process your application in 15 working days.

Published 9 November 2016
Last updated 31 March 2021 + show all updates
  1. Added information to the 'Document requirements for rejected live animals from 1 January 2021' section on what to do if your live animals are rejected at a point of entry in Northern Ireland.

  2. Updated dates in section on live animals rejected from an EU Border Control Post (BCP).

  3. Updated list of EU BCPs as existing links were broken.

  4. Updated section on rejected live animals from 1 Jan to 30 June 2021 to include NI points of entry.

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

  6. Content added to explain new export process from 1 January 2021.

  7. Updated information on Brexit deal.

  8. Replaced information about endangered animals with links to pages with more comprehensive information on CITES and what to do if there's a no-deal Brexit.

  9. Forms EC3163 and EC3164 updated

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

  11. EHC list updated

  12. Export Health Certificate list updated

  13. EHC List updated

  14. Forms updated due to Data Protections statement change

  15. Updated EC3163 form

  16. Updated EC3163 form

  17. First published.