Guidance

Importing or moving live fish and shellfish

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

Applies to England and Wales

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

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 import wild-caught marine fish and fishery product for human consumption.

For information on live fish and shellfish imports from other UK territories and Crown Dependencies, contact:

Authorisation to import live fish and shellfish

You need authorisation from the Fish Health Inspectorate (FHI), Cefas to import live fish, molluscs and crustaceans 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)

All sources must be approved by the FHI who will check that the source country you are importing from is approved and can meet the animal health certification requirements for import into the GB.

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

Apply for authorisation to import live fish and shellfish into England and Wales. There’s no fee for applying.

Susceptible and vector species

Lists of possible susceptible and vector species, that are referenced in aquatic animal health legislation and import health certificates, can be found here: Susceptible and vector species lists (PDF, 210 KB, 10 pages)

Non-native species

There are extra rules for importing non-native species of fish and shellfish.

Ornamental coldwater fish

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

Endangered species

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

Welfare of animals in transit

There are rules for the welfare of animals during transport. Contact APHA to find out more and make sure you are following these rules.

Importing into England and Wales from an EU country

From 1 January there are new processes that importers must follow, which are being introduced in stages. There are two stages applicable to live fish and shellfish (including their eggs and gametes) that are not moving as product for direct human consumption.

Rules from 1 January 2021:

To import live fish and shellfish into GB (England and Wales) from the EU:

  • your goods must be accompanied by an animal health certificate using the correct template for imports from the EU. The certificate must confirm that the goods meet the animal health requirements for entry into England and Wales. Contact the Fish Health Inspectorate (FHI) in advance of making any import arrangements to confirm the health certification requirements and the correct template to use.

  • the animal health certificate must be issued and completed by the Competent Authority responsible for aquatic animal health at the source site, your supplier should make this arrangement with them. The original, signed certificate must accompany the consignment.

  • you or your Agent must use the UK’s Import of Products, Animals, Food and Feed System (IPAFFS) to pre-notify the FHI of your import at least one working day before the consignment is due to arrive. You can submit your notification up to 30 days in advance. You will need to give the EU exporter or their official veterinarian/ fish health inspector the unique notification number (UNN) that is produced on IPAFFS so it can be added to the health certificate which accompanies the consignment. You also need to upload a copy of the health certificate onto IPAFFS in advance of the import. Allow time for this when making the IPAFFS pre-notification.

  • in the event that the original, stamped and signed export health certificate is not present on IPAFFS in advance of the import leaving the source site, the FHI will contact the importer to request the missing documentation is uploaded to IPAFFS urgently. Failure to provide this documentation will result in enforcement action being taken.

  • the FHI will carry out documentary checks and, if required, risk based physical checks at destination.

In addition, you need:

Movements into England and Wales from Northern Ireland and Crown Dependencies

For movements of live fish and shellfish into GB (England and Wales) from Northern Ireland, the Channel Islands, and the Isle of Man:

  • movements of fish, molluscs and crustaceans that are susceptible to or vectors for serious (notifiable) diseases must be accompanied by an animal health certificate, using the correct template for movements from Northern Ireland and the Crown Dependencies. The certificate must confirm that the goods meet the animal health requirements for entry into England and Wales.

  • contact the FHI in advance of making any import arrangements to confirm the health certification requirements and the correct template to use.

  • if a health certificate is required it must be issued and completed by the Competent Authority responsible for aquatic animal health at the source site, your supplier should make this arrangement with them. The original, signed health certificate must accompany the consignment.

  • you must notify the FHI using form AAH1 at least 24 hours before importing fish and shellfish, and must fill in a form for each import.

  • you must provide a copy of the original, signed health certificate to the FHI within 24 hours of arrival in GB.

  • the FHI will carry out documentary checks and, if required, risk based physical checks at destination.

Find out more about moving goods into, out of, or through Northern Ireland.

Importing into England and Wales from a non-EU country

To import live fish and shellfish into GB (England and Wales) from a non-EU country:

  • your goods must be accompanied by an animal health certificate using the correct template for imports from non-EU countries. The certificate must confirm that the goods meet the animal health requirements for entry into England and Wales. Contact the Fish Health Inspectorate (FHI) in advance of making any import arrangements to confirm the health certification requirements and the correct template to use.

  • the animal health certificate must be issued and completed by the Competent Authority responsible for aquatic animal health at the source site, your supplier should make this arrangement with them. The original, signed certificate must accompany the consignment.

  • your goods must enter through a UK Border Control Post (BCP) that can accept the type of goods, for documentary, identity and physical checks and customs clearance. You may need to pay for this service.

  • you or your Agent must use the UK’s Import of Products, Animals, Food and Feed System (IPAFFS) to pre-notify the BCP of your import at least one working day before the consignment is due to arrive. You can submit your notification up to 30 days in advance.

Problems with documentation

Species susceptible to controlled disease

You may be given a ‘Regulation 23’ notice if there are errors in the documentation for fish or shellfish susceptible to a controlled disease.

If the health risk to other fish is low, the fish or shellfish will be isolated at an APHA approved site while the errors are corrected.

If the errors cannot 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

You may be given a ‘Regulation 16’ notice if there are errors in the documentation for fish or shellfish not susceptible to controlled disease. You will need to correct the errors but the fish do not need to be isolated.

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

Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA)

Telephone: 03000 200 301

imports@apha.gsi.gov.uk

Find out about call charges

Published 16 May 2014
Last updated 2 August 2022 + show all updates
  1. Susceptible and Vector Species list added.

  2. Removed the paragraph - Countries you cannot import from because this relates to fish product and not live fish which is what this page is intended for. I have contacted Anna via email w/c 4th July 2022 to inform that this paragraph needs to be added to fish product pages.

  3. Amendment to Rules from 1 January 2021:

  4. A minor date change for import requirements

  5. A change noted for imports/movements from Northern Ireland and Crown Dependencies

  6. Date changed for the second step for EU imports

  7. Updated with new guidance from January 1st

  8. Changes include the process for using the new system - TRACES New Technology (NT) for notifying all imports from outside the EU.

  9. Name change from CVED to Common Health entry documents (CHED).

  10. Updated the title to reflect our remit of live fish and shellfish imports for aquaculture and ornamental purposes only and not the import of fish and fishery product. This is for clarity for our users in the aquaculture sector.

  11. Brexit update

  12. Removed all guidance on exports as this has been moved to a new detailed guide.

  13. Simplified the categories to be authorised to import.

  14. Added section on human consumption requirements

  15. First published.

  1. Step 1 Check if you need to follow this process

    Follow these steps to get your goods for import through UK customs if you’re managing the process yourself.

    Getting customs clearance is complicated. You can hire a transporter or customs agent to make the import declaration and get your goods through UK customs.

    1. Hire someone to deal with customs for you

    Your business must be ready to import the goods before you can get customs clearance.

    1. Find out about importing goods from the UK
    1. Check if you need to make an import declaration
  2. Step 2 Set up your business for making import declarations

    You need an EORI number that starts with GB to import goods into England, Wales or Scotland. You'll need a new one if you have an EORI that does not start with GB.

    If you move goods to or from Northern Ireland you may need one that starts with XI.

    1. Get an EORI number

    Depending on where you're moving goods, you need to be registered on the right systems and have compatible software to make declarations.

    1. Check what systems and software you need to make declarations
  3. Step 3 Check if you can make the customs process quicker

    There are processes that can make clearing customs quicker and easier to manage if you have to make import declarations regularly.

    1. Find out about using simplified declaration procedures
    2. Check if Authorised Economic Operator status is right for you

    If you're importing goods from the EU to England, Scotland or Wales (Great Britain) you might be able to delay making a declaration for up to 6 months.

    1. Check if you can declare your goods later if you're importing goods from the EU

    If you regularly import goods using Common Transit, you can apply to start movements of goods at your own premises.

    1. Check if consignee status is right for your business
  4. Step 4 Register to import goods with restrictions

    You need to register as an importer if you import things like plant or animal products, high-risk food or feed, medicines, textiles, chemicals or firearms.

    Register to import:

  5. Step 5 Check if you need a licence or certificate for your goods

  6. and Check the labelling, marking and marketing rules

  7. Step 6 Arrange for the goods to be inspected

    If you import things like plant or animal products, you need to choose a place where the goods can be inspected. This needs to happen before they’re allowed through the UK border.

    1. Find an inspection point for animals and animal products
    2. Find an inspection point for plants, plant products, seeds and wood
    3. Find an inspection point for high risk food and feed that is not of animal origin
    4. Find an inspection point for endangered species, or products made from endangered plants or animals

    You need to let the inspection point know when the goods are arriving. You might have to pay a fee for the inspection.

  8. Step 7 Submit the import declaration

    1. Find out how to submit import declarations

    If you're importing goods from the EU to England, Scotland or Wales (Great Britain) you might be able to delay making a declaration for up to 6 months.

    1. Check if you can declare your goods later to make the importing process quicker
  9. Step 8 Pay VAT and duty

    HMRC will tell you how much to pay after you submit the declaration.

    1. Find out how and when to pay VAT and duty
  10. Step 9 Get the goods released if they're held up at the border

    The goods may be held at the border if, for example:

    • you have not paid the right amount of duty or VAT
    • you do not have the right import licences for the goods or business
    • they did not pass inspection
    • they've been combined with a shipment that has been held up

    If this happens you will be told why.

    1. Contact the National Clearance Hub to get help