How to import or move live animals and germinal products from the EU and Northern Ireland to Great Britain.
This guidance applies to businesses in Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales) importing or moving the following germinal products and live animals from the EU:
- germinal products (semen, ova and embryos)
- amphibians (except salamanders)
- invertebrates (except bees, molluscs and crustaceans)
- livestock – such as cows, sheep, goats and pigs
- equines (including equines from Norway)
- poultry (including day old chicks and hatching eggs)
- captive-bred birds that are not pets, poultry or for research, display or conservation (for example, captive-bred birds imported commercially for sale in pet shops)
- non-domestic ungulates – these are hooved animals that are not farm animals, such as llamas, alpacas, antelopes, camels, wild pigs, tapirs, rhinos, giraffes, elephants, hippos
You’ll need to follow additional rules if your live animal or germinal product is:
You need to follow different guidance if you’re importing:
- live animals, equines and germinal products from non-EU countries
- live fish or shellfish
- pet cats, dogs or ferrets or other pet animals
- animals covered by Balai rules
- animal by-products and high-risk food and feed not of animal origin
You should check if current issues, such as disease outbreaks may affect your import.
Notify APHA about imports of live animals from the EU
You must submit an import notification on the import of products, animals, food and feed system (IPAFFS) to tell APHA about imports of live animals from EU countries.
You must do this at least one working day before the animals or germinal products are expected to arrive at the point of entry.
You’ll get a unique notification number (UNN) when you submit your import notification for the animal or product. The format of this number will be CHEDA.GB.YYYY.1XXXXXX.
You must give the UNN to the exporter or official vet (OV) who will add it to the health certificate for your animal or product, and give you a copy.
Notify APHA about imports of germinal products from the EU
You must submit an import notification on IPAFFS to tell APHA about imports of germinal products from the EU.
You must do this at least one working day before the germinal products are expected to arrive at the point of entry.
When you submit your import notification in IPAFFS, you’ll get a unique notification number (UNN) for the product. The format of this number will be IMP.GB.YYYY.1XXXXXX. You must:
- Give the UNN to the EU exporter or official vet (OV), who must add it to the health certificate and give you a copy.
- Upload the signed health certificate PDF to the notification.
Check what documents you need
Most imports of live animals and germinal products from the EU must come with a health certificate.
If there’s no health certificate for your product, you may need an import licence or commercial document.
Equines imported to Great Britain from the EU, Norway and Northern Ireland must have an up-to-date horse passport.
The EU exporter must apply for the GB health certificate in their own country – competent authorities should use model health certificates and any supplementary health certificates and declarations to create versions that exporters can apply for.
If the exporter creates a GB health certificate using TRACES, they do not need to send the original health certificate with the consignment. They must send you the official, verifiable PDF certificate from TRACES once it has been signed by the competent authority. Use this for your import notification in IPAFFS.
If the exporter does not use TRACES, the competent authority must send the original paper GB health certificate with the consignment and send you an electronic copy to attach to your import notification in IPAFFS.
You must attach all pages of the health certificate copy to your import notification in IPAFFS.
If a GB health certificate does not exist for the animal or germinal product you want to import, you may need an import licence or authorisation to import from the EU.
In some cases, you may need an import licence as well as a GB health certificate.
Check the list of general licences and authorisations to see if the licence you need already exists.
Contact the APHA Animal Imports team if:
- there’s no licence for your animal or germinal product
- you’re not sure if you need a licence
You must attach the import licence or authorisation to your import notification in IPAFFS.
The exporter must send a commercial document, invoice and packing list with consignments of the following live animals and their germinal products:
- amphibians (except salamanders)
- invertebrates (except bees, molluscs and crustaceans)
As well as any specific requirements of your licence or authorisation, commercial documents must include:
- details of what’s in the consignment, including species and number of animals, if this applies
- the name of the person who sent it
- the name of the person it’s being sent to
- address of the premises of origin
- address of the destination premises
It must also state that:
- none of the material to which this authorisation relates is intended to be used for human or animal consumption in any circumstances
- the animals are not intended to be released into the wild
The commercial document must travel with the consignment.
The exporter must also send a declaration that confirms the animals are fit to travel for commercial trade.
Checks on imports of live animals and germinal products from the EU
Your live animal and germinal product may have document, identity and physical checks, including tests, at the place of destination. They must stay there for either:
- 48 hours
- the time indicated on the health certificate
Checks will depend on public and animal health risks.
Equines: testing and keeping horses and other equines before you import them to Great Britain
If you’re importing equines from the EU and Norway, you must make sure your exporter follows the rules on testing and keeping registered and unregistered equines.
You will not be able to import equines if your exporter does not follow these rules.
Tests for equines
Your exporter must make sure that all unregistered equines are tested for:
- equine infectious anaemia (within 30 days before travel)
- equine viral arteritis (within 21 days before travel for uncastrated male equines that are older than 180 days, unless they meet vaccination requirements)
Equines that are registered with one of the following do not need to be tested before they’re imported:
- an EU-approved studbook
- a national branch of an international body for sporting or competition purposes
Keeping equines before they are imported to Great Britain
Your exporter must keep unregistered equines:
- on a holding in a country with equivalent health status as Great Britain for 40 days before they travel to Great Britain
- separated from other equines that do not have equivalent health status, for at least 30 days before they travel to Great Britain
Registered equines do not have to be isolated or kept on a holding in a country with equivalent health status before they’re imported from the EU or Norway to Great Britain.
Moving live animals and germinal products from Northern Ireland to Great Britain
You can move live animals and germinal products from Northern Ireland to Great Britain if they’re qualifying Northern Ireland goods.
Shows and sales
You can move livestock from Northern Ireland to Great Britain for events such as shows and sales. You must:
- return livestock to Northern Ireland after no more than 15 days from the date it left Northern Ireland
- only bring livestock to events at APHA approved assembly centres
If you sell Northern Ireland livestock at an approved event to a buyer based in Great Britain, it can stay in Great Britain.
After 15 days you must keep the livestock in Great Britain for at least 6 months before you can move it back to Northern Ireland or export to the EU.
Contact APHA for information about getting an event approved as an assembly centre: email@example.com
Importing live animals and germinal products from the EU from 31 January 2024
From 31 January 2024, imports of live animals and germinal products from the EU to Great Britain will be categorised as high risk under the Border Target Operating Model (BTOM).
You’ll need to follow the current process to:
- notify APHA
- check what documents you need
Importing germinal products from the EU from 30 April 2024
From 30 April 2024, new checks at the border on germinal products from the EU will be introduced.
All germinal products will need to enter through a point of entry with the relevant approved Border Control Post (BCP). All checks will be carried out at the BCP.
Importing live animals from the EU from late 2024
From late 2024, new checks at the border on live animals from the EU will be introduced.
All live animals will need to enter through a point of entry with the relevant approved BCP. All checks will be carried out at the BCP.
If you need help
Contact APHA’s Animal Imports team if you’re not sure about anything in this guide.