Export live animals: special rules

You need a certificate to export live animals.

There are different guides for pets, horses, fish and livestock in the EU or outside the EU.

What you need to do to move or export live animals depends on whether you’re exporting them:

There are additional rules for endangered animals and circuses.

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

Within the EU

To move animals within the EU you must:

Apply for an ITAHC

  1. Nominate an official veterinarian to inspect your goods. To find one, ask at your local vet or email

  2. Register with the TRACES system if you’ve not used it before.

  3. Sign in to TRACES and fill in the details of the live animals you’re exporting.

  4. Contact the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) or DAERA in Northern Ireland - tell them that the ITAHC has been created and give them details of your official veterinarian.

  5. Your certificate will be sent to your official veterinarian within 7 working days. If your official veterinarian doesn’t receive the certificate, contact the APHA Centre for International Trade Carlisle.

  6. Include the certificate when you export your consignment.

Instead of using TRACES, you can fill in form EXA31 (PDF, 829KB, 7 pages) , using the guidance notes (PDF, 104KB, 6 pages) to help you. Send the completed form to the APHA Centre for International Trade Carlisle.

Your ITAHC will be valid for 10 days after the inspection. There’s no fee for the certificate, but you’ll be charged for your vet’s time.

If there isn’t an ITAHC for your species of animal, contact APHA (or DAERA in Northern Ireland).

Check if your animal holding needs to be registered or approved

As well as an ITAHC, you may also need to register your holding or get it approved before you can move animals in the EU. Your holding is the place you keep your animals in the UK.

You must register your holding to move:

  • hooved animals (ungulates) that aren’t livestock
  • birds that aren’t commercial poultry
  • rabbits and hares
  • dogs, cats and ferrets that don’t meet the usual rules for pet travel (for example rescue animals being rehomed abroad)

You must get your holding approved to move:

  • any animal to another approved holding
  • carnivores or primates, for example monkeys, apes, lemurs
  • semen or embryos

You don’t need to register or get approval to move other types of animal.

There’s a different process for animal holdings in Northern Ireland - contact your local DAERA office.

Apply to register your holding

Fill in form EC3163 (PDF, 190KB, 3 pages) . Send it to the APHA Centre for International Trade Carlisle.

You’ll get a registration number to use on your export health certificates.

You must get your holding approved before you can move animals to an approved holding.

Apply to get your holding approved

Fill in form EC3164 (PDF, 165KB, 3 pages) and send it to your regional veterinary lead (RVL). To find your RVL, contact APHA. Form EC3164 is also available in Welsh (Cymraeg) (PDF, 116KB, 3 pages) .

An inspector will arrange a visit to your holding to check that it has:

  • walls, fences or other barriers separating it from the surrounding area
  • 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:

  • keep records of animals’ age, sex, species, blood tests and diseases
  • employ an official veterinarian - you can find one by asking at your local vet, or by emailing

Once your holding is approved

Contact APHA to move animals from your holding. You’ll get an approval number to use on your export health certificates.

Your holding must be inspected annually. You’ll normally be contacted by your RVL, but it’s your responsibility that the inspection takes place.

Your approval will be suspended if your holding breaks any of the approval conditions or if the RVL finds:

  • 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

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

Outside the EU

You will usually need to complete an export health certificate (EHC) and some supporting documents to be able to export a live animal.

There are some types of live animals you cannot export, or cases where you don’t need a certificate. If you cannot find the EHC you need, contact APHA.

To find out if you need an EHC and apply, follow these steps.

  1. The Export Health Certificate form finder helps you find and fill out the EHC and other supporting forms you will need to export your live animal. If you are exporting from Northern Ireland, contact your local DAERA office. Most EHCs will also have guidance documents that give information on how to fill out the certificate.

  2. Fill out the EHC and supporting forms and email them to the APHA address provided in the forms.

  3. In most cases you will need to nominate an official veterinarian (OV) to inspect your animal and sign the certificate.

  4. APHA will send your EHC to your OV within 7 working days.

  5. The OV will check the animal meets the health requirements of the destination country, complete the EHC and sign. The completed EHC will go with the animal, and the OV will send a copy to APHA.

To find an OV you can:

There is no fee for processing the EHC but you will need to pay for the OV’s services.

Use the most up to date EHC

EHC’s are sometimes updated when export agreements are changed. So make sure you are using the latest version of a certificate. The EHC form finder will always have the latest version.

Out of date forms will be rejected and cause delays to your exports.

You can sign up for alerts on the form finder, so that you get an email when a form is updated.

Transporting animals

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

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.

What you need to do depends on whether you’re exporting within the EU or outside the EU.

If Species+ says the animal is banned, you can’t export it.

Within the EU

If the animal is classed as Annex B, C or D, you don’t need to do anything.

If it’s classed as Annex A, you must apply for an Article 10 certificate unless you’re:

  • exporting live animals for non-commercial reasons like scientific research
  • exporting certain captive bred birds
  • re-exporting live animals that were bred in captivity

In these 3 cases, you don’t need to do anything.

There are special rules for wild disabled birds of prey (PDF, 79.9KB, 4 pages) .

Apply for an Article 10 certificate

Fill in either:

You can use the guidance notes (PDF, 606KB, 15 pages) to help you.

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

Include any supporting documents that show you acquired the product legally, for example:

  • a copy of the import permit
  • a previous Article 10 certificate (use the yellow copy)

The certificate costs £31.

You should get your certificate within 15 working days.

Outside the EU

If it’s classed as A, B or C, you need a CITES export permit.

If it’s classed as D, check the animal’s CITES listing in the Species+ tool. If it’s in Appendix III, you’ll need a CITES export permit. Otherwise you don’t need to do anything.

Apply for a CITES export permit

Fill in either:

You can use the guidance notes (PDF, 739KB, 13 pages) to help you. If you’re re-exporting a species, include its CITES import permit to prove it legally entered the EU.

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

A permit costs £63 (or £37 to re-export). You should receive it within 15 working days.

If you’re exporting as part of conservation work, you might be able to get a fee waiver through either:

You can use the guidance notes (PDF, 290KB, 2 pages) to help you.


Within the EU, you must register the circus and its animals if you take them outside the UK. The rules also apply to any birds, bees, salmon or trout kept for exhibition or entertainment.

Outside the EU, you don’t need to register your circus or its animals. You also don’t need to register circuses within the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man.

You need a licence for wild animals, even if your circus stays within the UK.

Registering your circus to travel within the EU

If you take your circus outside the UK to another country in the EU, you must:

  • register the circus and animals
  • get passports for all animals in the circus or exhibition (apart from bees, salmon or trout) - these are issued by your official veterinarian when you register your circus to travel
  • get an ITAHC before you travel
  • keep animals registered as part of the circus away from unregistered animals
  • put animals susceptible to rabies into quarantine when they enter the UK – see rules for domestic animals (for other species contact APHA, or DAERA in Northern Ireland.

You must take the following documents with you when you travel:

  • passports
  • export health certificate
  • venue register

It’s an offence to travel with circus animals without registering – you can be prosecuted and fined up to £5,000.

Register your circus

You need to register your circus at least 40 working days before you want to travel.

To apply:

  • make sure your animals have animal passports and are up to date with tests and vaccinations
  • choose an official veterinarian to carry out a registration visit - to find one, you can ask at your local vet or email or contact DAERA in Northern Ireland
  • fill in form ET79 (PDF, 178KB, 3 pages) and return it to the address on the form with a £93 registration fee and passport fees - you can use the guidance notes (PDF, 238KB, 12 pages) to help you with the form

APHA will then contact your official veterinarian, who’ll carry out a registration visit and give you the animal passports, registration document and a unique registration number if you pass. They’ll charge a fee for the visit.

You’ll also get a letter from the APHA Centre for International Trade Bristol to confirm.

Animal passport fees

Passports cost:

  • £2 for each individual circus animal (dogs, cats, ferrets and horses need special passports)
  • £2 for a group of birds or rodents (maximum of 15 ringed or microchipped birds or rodents per group, no limit on the number without rings or microchips)

You need a separate passport for each species and breed.

Regular exports for public exhibition

If you regularly take endangered circus animals abroad, you could use a travelling exhibition certificate (PDF, 2.7MB) instead of a CITES permit or article 10 certificate.

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

To apply, fill in form FED0173 (PDF, 64.4KB, 2 pages) .

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

You’ll get your certificate within 15 working days and there’s no fee.

Published 9 November 2016
Last updated 5 November 2018 + show all updates
  1. EHC list updated
  2. Export Health Certificate list updated
  3. EHC List updated
  4. Forms updated due to Data Protections statement change
  5. Updated EC3163 form
  6. Updated EC3163 form
  7. First published.