Guidance

Exporting or moving live fish and shellfish

Find out how to export live fish, molluscs and crustaceans for farming, ornamental, or any other purpose except direct human consumption

This guidance applies only to exports or movements of live fish, molluscs, and crustaceans for farming, ornamental, depuration, or any other purpose except direct human consumption, that are leaving Great Britain (GB) from England and Wales.

It does not apply to dead fish and shellfish, or fish and shellfish products, including live shellfish for direct human consumption.

Find out how to export wild-caught marine fish and fishery product for human consumption.

For information on live fish and shellfish exports to other UK territories and Crown Dependencies, contact:

Exporting from England and Wales to an EU Country

To export live fish and shellfish from England and Wales to an EU country:

  • your export must be accompanied by an export animal health certificate. You or your importer must find out the animal health certification requirements from the competent authority or official service for aquatic animal health in the destination country, contact their embassy in the UK if you require assistance.

  • you need to apply to the Fish Health Inspectorate (FHI), Cefas, for an export animal health certificate using form EXP1, giving a minimum of 5 working days’ notice prior to export. Along with the EXP1 application you must also submit details of the animal health certification requirements to the FHI.

  • the FHI will assess the animal health certification requirements and confirm whether your export can meet these. If it can, the FHI will produce the certificate and contact you to arrange an inspection of your goods for export.

  • if the export inspection is satisfactory the FHI will sign and issue the health certificate. The original health certificate must accompany the consignment.

  • your export must be checked and cleared at an EU Border Control Post (BCP) that can accept the type of goods, in the first EU country they enter. Your goods may be refused entry, seized, destroyed or returned to the UK, if they arrive at an EU port without a BCP or at a BCP that can’t check your type of product, not all BCPs accept all goods. Consider how to redirect your trade route if needed.

  • make sure your importer or EU-based import agent has notified the BCP that your consignment is arriving. They need to check with the BCP to find out how much notice is required and use the EU system TRACES-NT to make the notification.

  • make sure your consignment meets all labelling requirements for clearance through the EU-BCP and transport to destination. Your EU-based importer or their Agent should be able to confirm these requirements with you.

  • comply with wider HMRC guidance on customs requirements for exporting to the EU.

  • make sure you have the correct EORI numbers.

  • follow animal welfare during transport rules. Contact APHA for more information.

  • find out what happens if your consignment is rejected at an EU BCP.

Additional guidance on exporting live bivalve molluscs to the EU

If you are exporting live bivalve molluscs (LBMs) to the EU, please read the additional guidance below:

  • all live aquatic animals and products of animal origin (including fish and shellfish) intended for export to the EU and destined for human consumption will require an export health certificate. As a third country, live bivalve molluscs (LBMs) can no longer be directly landed by UK fishing vessels into the EU. They must be exported to arrive via a BCP.

  • LBMs such as oysters, mussels, clams, cockles and scallops can continue to be exported to the EU if they’re harvested from class A waters or depurated (purified) in the UK and have cleared end product testing (ready for human consumption). These can be exported using the export health certificate for LBMs for direct human consumption. You should contact your Local Health Authority to obtain these certificates.

  • the EU Commission has indicated that undepurated LBMs from Class B waters cannot be imported from Great Britain into the EU for the purpose of depuration (purification). This affects both wild harvested LBMs and those from aquaculture. The FHI are unable to certify for these consignments until this situation is resolved. Defra is continuing to look for a solution to allow exports of wild-harvested live bivalve molluscs to the EU to resume.

  • LBMs from Aquaculture production Businesses (APBs), which are intended to go for further farming / on-growing in the EU, must be accompanied by a specific Export Health Certificate: “Model animal health certificate for the import into the European Union of aquaculture animals for farming, relaying, put and take fisheries and open ornamental facilities”. This certificate is limited to LBMs sourced from aquaculture establishments and does not cover wild sourced molluscs. You should contact the FHI to obtain these certificates. LBMs exported for farming should be unaffected by the current trade restrictions imposed by the EU on LBMs exported for purification in the EU. However, we strongly advise that exporters obtain confirmation, in writing, from the BCP in the importing country that the consignment will be accepted before starting the export. Any decision to export LBMs for this purpose is a commercial decision for you to take as an industry and will be carried out at the exporter’s own risk.

If you did not supply the required certification at the time of the export

If animals have been presented at an EU BCP without Cefas FHI issued animal health certificates, they will be classed as an illegal consignment and have no certifiable provenance. You will not be able to bring these animals back. These animals will be humanely culled either at the EU BCP or on attempted return to GB.

Movements from England and Wales to Northern Ireland

To move live fish and shellfish from England and Wales to Northern Ireland:

  • your consignment must be accompanied by an animal health certificate. You or your customer will need to check with the Competent Authority for Aquatic Animal Health in NI to find out what the animal health certification requirements are.

  • you need to apply to the FHI, Cefas, for an animal health certificate using form EXP1, giving a minimum of 5 working days’ notice in advance of the movement. Along with the EXP1 application you must also submit details of the animal health certification requirements to the FHI.

  • the FHI will assess the animal health certification requirements and confirm whether your goods can meet these. If they can, the FHI will produce the certificate and contact you to arrange an inspection.

  • if the inspection is satisfactory the FHI will sign and issue the health certificate. The original health certificate must accompany the consignment.

  • your goods must enter Northern Ireland through a designated point of entry where they will be subject to documentary, identity, and physical checks. Your customer should be able to confirm the location of the appropriate designated point of entry.

  • the movement must be pre-notified through TRACES-NT, which will be the system for processing movements of Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) goods in Northern Ireland. This is the responsibility of your customer or their Agent and they should check how much notice needs to be given to the designated point of entry.

  • make sure your consignment meets all labelling requirements for arrival at the designated point of entry and transport to destination. Your customer or their Agent should be able to confirm these requirements with you.
  • make sure you have the correct EORI numbers.

  • follow animal welfare during transport rules. Contact APHA for more information.

Please contact the FHI for additional guidance on trade to Northern Ireland from third countries or the EU via England and Wales.

Make sure you are ready for all changes, find out more about moving goods into, out of, or through Northern Ireland from 1 January 2021.

Movements from England and Wales to Crown Dependencies

To move live fish and shellfish from England and Wales to the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man:

  • an animal health certificate or official movement notification may be required. You or your customer must find out the animal health certification and movement notification requirements from the competent authority or official service for aquatic animal health at the destination.

  • If a certificate or form of official notification is required you need to apply to the Fish Health Inspectorate (FHI), Cefas using form EXP1, giving a minimum of 5 working days’ notice prior to export. Along with the EXP1 application you must also submit details of the animal health certification requirements, if any, to the FHI.

  • the FHI will assess the animal health certification requirements and confirm whether your export can meet these. If it can, the FHI will produce the certificate and contact you to arrange an inspection of your goods for export if this is required.

  • if the inspection is satisfactory the FHI will sign and issue the health certificate. The health certificate must accompany the consignment.

  • make sure your consignment meets all requirements for transport and arrival at the destination. Your customer or their Agent should be able to confirm these requirements with you.

  • make sure you follow animal welfare during transport rules. Contact APHA for more information.

Exporting from England and Wales to a non-EU country

To export live fish and shellfish from England and Wales to a non-EU country:

  • an animal health certificate may be required. You or your customer must find out the animal health certification requirements from the competent authority or official service for aquatic animal health in the destination country, contact their embassy in the UK if you require assistance.

  • if an animal health certificate is required you need to apply to the Fish Health Inspectorate (FHI), Cefas, for an export animal health certificate using form EXP1, giving a minimum of 5 working days’ notice prior to export. Along with the EXP1 application you must also submit details of the animal health certification requirements to the FHI.

  • the FHI will assess the animal health certification requirements and confirm whether your export can meet these. If it can, the FHI will produce the certificate and contact you to arrange an inspection of your goods for export if this is required.

  • if the export inspection is satisfactory the FHI will sign and issue the health certificate. The health certificate must accompany the consignment.

  • make sure your consignment meets all requirements for transport and arrival at the destination. Your customer or their Agent should be able to confirm these requirements with you.

Exporting CITES species

Additional rules apply to endangered species under CITES. Find out how to trade and move species protected by CITES.

Exports from England and Wales rejected by the EU

If your consignment is rejected by the EU after exporting, you may have the option to bring the goods back. Live fish and shellfish will only be accepted back to GB if they meet certain conditions.

If your goods fail inspection because of risks to animal or public health, they may be destroyed immediately. The BCP will not usually contact the exporter.

If your consignment is rejected because they failed animal health or identity checks at the EU BCP contact the FHI. FHI officials will advise you whether the animals may be accepted for return if there is an option to do so.

GB will only accept the return of the animal consignment if the original FHI certified documents accompany the animals. You will need to coordinate the return of the animals by pre-notifying FHI of the return before commencing the return journey.

On arrival at the GB port, FHI will undertake documentary, identity and physical checks to determine whether the animals are able to re-enter GB territory.

Errors in documentation

If the documents you supplied at the time of export contained errors contact the FHI.

In some circumstances, it may be possible that a replacement certificate sent to the EU BCP could reverse the decision to reject. The final decision will be taken by the EU BCP whether this is acceptable.

If your goods were rejected for other reasons, such as customs declaration issues

Contact HMRC or your customs intermediary for advice on whether the issues can be resolved.

If your animals need to return to GB, you must coordinate the return of the animals by pre-notifying FHI of the return by email or phone before commencing the return journey with the original documentation.

On arrival at the GB port or airport the FHI will undertake documentary, identity and physical checks on entry to determine whether the animals are able to enter GB territory.

Contacts

Fish Health Inspectorate in England and Wales

Fish Health Inspectorate
Cefas
Barrack Road
Weymouth
Dorset
DT4 8UB

Telephone: 01305 206700

fhi@cefas.co.uk

Monday to Thursday 9am to 5pm and Fridays 9am to 4:30pm

Find out about call charges

Published 28 March 2019
Last updated 12 February 2021 + show all updates
  1. Changed to include the guidance on shellfish exports to EU.

  2. Removal of the reference to exporting LBM to the EU.

  3. Updated with new guidance as of January 1st 2021

  4. Updated the title to reflect our remit of live fish and shellfish exports for aquaculture and ornamental purposes only and not the export of fish and fishery product. These changes are for clarity for our users in the aquaculture sector.

  5. Brexit update

  6. First published.