What you need to do to import live fish, molluscs and crustaceans for aquaculture and ornamental purposes
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Authorisation to import fish
You need authorisation from the Fish Health Inspectorate (FHI) to import live fish, molluscs and crustaceans for:
- ornamental purposes
- 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.
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.
Fish and shellfish for human consumption
There are extra rules for importing non-native species of fish, crayfish and lobsters.
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.
You need a permit to import any species covered by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) 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.
You also need a health certificate from the country of origin for imports from:
- the Isle of Man
- Northern Ireland
Health certificates for imports from outside the EU
You need a health certificate issued by the country of origin for all fish, molluscs or crustacea imported from outside the EU (or from non-EFTA countries).
Health certificates are checked by the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) at a border inspection post. You may need to pay for this service.
You must send the Common Veterinary Entry Document (CVED) to APHA at least 2 days before the fish or shellfish arrive.
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.
Fish Health Inspectorate
Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm 01305 206700
Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA)
Telephone: 03000 200 301
Find out about call charges