Guidance

Import or export live fish and shellfish

What you need to do to import or export live fish, molluscs and crustaceans (shellfish): authorisation and health certificates.

To import live fish, molluscs and crustaceans (shellfish) you need to be authorised with the Fish Health Inspectorate (FHI). You may also need a health certificate for the fish or shellfish to show they are disease free.

If you import fish or shellfish without authorisation you can get an unlimited fine.

Authorisation to import fish

To import fish or shellfish you need to be authorised by FHI.

Application to become an aquaculture production business (APB) to import live fish and shellfish into England and Wales

This is free.

You need to be authorised to import live fish and shellfish for:

  • ornamental purposes
  • farming
  • human consumption
  • scientific research
  • ‘put and take’ fisheries (where catches can be taken home)
  • public aquariums and zoos
  • spas and medical use (nibble fish)

Fish and shellfish for human consumption

More rules apply to import fish and shellfish for human consumption ― find out about importing and exporting food, fishery products and molluscs, and the public health requirements.

Non-native species

There are additional rules for non-native species of fish, crayfish and lobsters.

Ornamental coldwater fish

If you import ornamental coldwater fish like koi, you need to include a biosecurity measures plan outlining how you deal with fish health and disease.

Importer biosecurity measures plan (PDF, 193KB, 36 pages)

Endangered species

You need a permit to import any species covered by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITIES) list.

Health certificate for imports from the EU

You need a health certificate to import fish, molluscs or crustacea from the EU or European Free Trade Association (EFTA) member countries (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland) if they:

  • are at risk of controlled diseases (serious diseases not usually found in the UK)
  • carry controlled diseases

You must notify the FHI at least 24 hours before importing fish and shellfish and must fill in a form for each import.

Notification to import live fish and shellfish into England and Wales from another EU territory

You also need a health certificate from the country of origin for imports from:

  • the Isle of Man
  • Northern Ireland
  • Jersey
  • Guernsey

Health certificates for imports from outside the EU

All fish, molluscs or crustacea you import from outside the EU (or from non-EFTA countries) need to have a health certificate issued by the country of origin.

Health certificates are examined by Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency (AHVLA) at a border inspection post. You may need to pay for this service.

You must submit the Common veterinary entry document (CVED) (PDF, 66.7KB, 1 page) to AHVLA at least 2 days before the fish or shellfish arrive.

Problems with documentation

Species susceptible to controlled disease

If there are errors on the documentation for fish or shellfish susceptible to a controlled disease you may be given a ‘Regulation 23’ notice. If the health risk to other fish is low, the fish or shellfish can enter the country while errors are corrected.

To prevent the introduction or spread of disease, these fish or shellfish must be isolated at an approved site. AHVLA will have a list of these and will work with the importer. The site must have separate equipment and procedures and stock must stay there until the error is corrected and the notice is released.

If the errors can’t be corrected FHI may test the consignment for disease. This requires a minimum of 30 animals and the test results can take up to 3 weeks.

Species not susceptible to controlled disease

If there are errors and the fish or shellfish aren’t susceptible to controlled disease you may be given a ‘Regulation 16’ notice.

This means errors need to be corrected but the fish don’t need to be isolated.

Health certificate to export fish to the EU and EFTA member countries

You need a health certificate if the species are:

  • at risk of EU controlled diseases
  • carriers of EU controlled diseases

You need to apply to the FHI using the Notification to export fish to the EU form. This is free but you need to give 5 working days’ notice.

Health certificate to export fish outside the EU

If you’re exporting fish or shellfish to outside the EU you need to check requirements with the relevant country’s embassy.

You may need to give health certificates (including translations) to the FHI (these may need to be signed by a vet or fish consultant).

Contacts

Fish Health Inspectorate

Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency (AHVLA)

Email: imports@ahvla.gsi.gov.uk

Telephone: 01245 358 383

Find out about call charges