Guidance

Export or move livestock and poultry

Rules you need to follow to export cattle, pigs, sheep, goats and poultry.

This guidance applies to businesses in Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales) exporting or moving livestock (sheep, cattle, pigs and goats) and poultry to, or through:

  • the EU
  • non-EU countries
  • Northern Ireland

You need an export health certificate (EHC) to export or move livestock and poultry.

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

You need to follow different guidance for:

Some countries have their own import rules for livestock and poultry. You can check by talking to your importer or getting help researching your export market.

General exporting rules

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

Register for the poultry health scheme

You must be a member of the Poultry Health Scheme to export or move poultry:

  • to the EU or Northern Ireland (unless you’re exporting 20 birds or hatching eggs or less)
  • to non EU countries - your EHC will say if you need to join the scheme

Find out how to register for the poultry health scheme.

Quarantine rules for livestock and poultry

Check the EHC you’re applying for to find out how long livestock and poultry must be held at the premises of origin before export to a non-EU country.

Cattle, sheep and pigs must be held at the premises of origin for 40 days before you export or move them to the EU or Northern Ireland.

Export or move livestock and poultry to the EU or Northern Ireland

You need an EHC to:

  • export livestock and poultry from Great Britain to the EU
  • move livestock and poultry 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 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 livestock or poultry 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 points of entry in Northern Ireland

You must get your livestock and poultry checked at an EU Border Control Post (BCP) or point of entry in Northern Ireland.

These checks are made to protect:

  • animal health and welfare
  • public health

Your livestock and poultry may be refused entry, seized, destroyed or returned to Great Britain if they arrive at an EU port without a BCP, an EU BCP or Northern Ireland point of entry:

  • where checks cannot be carried out
  • that cannot check your type of animal
  • without the correct documentation

Find the correct BCP or Northern Ireland point of entry for your goods

You must find a BCP or point of entry that accepts livestock and poultry as not all BCPs and points of entry 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 and Northern Ireland points of entry

Give advance notice to EU BCPs or points of entry in Northern Ireland

You need to give EU BCPs or points of entry in Northern Ireland advance notice of livestock and poultry 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 or point of entry 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 livestock or poultry fail inspection at an EU BCP

If your livestock or poultry 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 Great Britain

The BCP will not usually contact you directly.

Return livestock and poultry rejected at EU BCPs from 1 January 2021 to 28 February 2022

From 1 January 2021 to 28 February 2022, livestock or poultry rejected at EU BCPs may, subject to a risk assessment, re-enter Great Britain through any point of entry. You’ll need to provide certain documents to return your rejected goods.

Documents you need to return rejected livestock and poultry 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 or Northern Ireland point of entry of the reasons why the returned animals were refused
  • statement from the EU BCP or Northern Ireland point of entry 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

You should state Northern Ireland or the EU country where the rejected BCP is located as the country of origin on the IPAFFS notification.

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 the information you submit and issue you with a written authorisation that tells you if the returned consignment needs to enter through a Great Britain BCP or through any point of entry.

You cannot return the consignment until you receive 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).

Returns process 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 livestock or poultry

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 for livestock

To transport livestock 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 export health certificate (EHC) and some supporting documents to export a live animal.

Check the export health certificate (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 livestock and poultry

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

Published 11 November 2016
Last updated 31 March 2021 + show all updates
  1. Added information to the 'Documents you need to return rejected livestock and poultry from 1 January 2021' section on what to do if your sheep, cattle, pigs and goats are rejected at a point of entry in Northern Ireland.

  2. Updated dates in section on returned livestock and poultry rejected from an EU Border Control Post (BCP).

  3. Updates to process for returning livestock and poultry rejected from EU border control posts or NI points of entry.

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

  5. Information about bees has been removed. Instead, users should visit: www.gov.uk/guidance/bee-health

  6. Highlighted link to guidance on how the rules for moving animals and animal products will change if there’s a no-deal Brexit. Updated the section about getting export health certificates to make it clearer, including adding a link to where you can find the right certificate.

  7. Updated email address for joining PHS. 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. Livestock form (EXA31) and livestock guidance notes updated

  13. First published.