Importing and Exporting Live Aquatic Animals: EU Exit

How importers and exporters of live aquatic animals for aquaculture and ornamental purposes should prepare if the UK leaves the EU with no deal

What does this guidance cover

The guidance in this page applies to imports and exports of live aquatic animals (fish, molluscs, crustaceans and amphibians) for aquaculture and for ornamental purposes in England and Wales, if the UK leaves the EU with no deal.

For information on live aquatic animal imports and exports to and from other UK territories and Crown Dependencies contact:


Northern Ireland



Isle of Man

For information on export of fish and fishery product and products of animal origin that include live shellfish for human consumption and information on fishery movements of wild-caught marine fish.

Importing and Exporting

There are some actions you’ll need to take if you import or export live aquatic animals between the UK and EU.

Preparing for changes to trade at the UK-EU border

To minimise disruption to your business at border points you should take the following steps:

  1. get a UK Economic Operator Registration and Identification number so you can continue to import or export goods and apply for authorisation that will make customs processes easier for you

  2. decide if you want to hire an import-export agent, or make the declarations yourself

  3. contact the organisation that moves your goods for example, a haulage firm, to find out what information they need to make the declarations for your goods, or if you will need to make them yourself

Read the guidance on simplified customs procedures for trading with the EU if we leave without a deal

Further information is provided in HMRC’s advice for businesses trading with the EU

Importing live aquatic animals

Imports from the EU:

  1. if the UK leaves the EU without a deal, the government will continue to ensure a smooth transition by making no changes for at least six months to current import controls or notification requirements for live animals and animal products imported direct from the EU and EEA. This means that trade can continue as it is through the current points of entry for at least 6 months, with no requirement to direct consignments through a Border Inspection Post and follow existing guidance.

  2. any amendments to the import requirements for live aquatic animals for aquaculture and ornamental purposes into the UK after this six month period are subject to ongoing negotiations.

Read the guidance for more information on the current (pre-EU exit) rules for importing live aquatic animals.

Imports from Third Countries – Non-EU:

  1. existing EU model health certificates and establishment listings will continue to be accepted for at least six months after EU exit, even in the event of a ‘no deal’ scenario. If you import live animals or animal products, fish, shellfish or fish products from non-EU (third) countries, whether directly or transiting through the EU, your consignment must be checked at a BIP.

  2. to ensure imports of live animals, products of animal origin, animal by-products, germplasm and high-risk food and feed not of animal origin can continue after exit, the UK is launching a new system called the ‘Import of products, animals, food and feed system’ (IPAFFS).

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is releasing IPAFFS in phases. For 29 March, you can use IPAFFS if you’re importing live animals, animal products and high-risk food and feed not of animal origin from non-EU countries.

You can register for IPAFFS from early March 2019 and create notifications for consignments arriving after 29 March.

Find out more about how to use it in the IPAFFS user guidance.

Further information on importing live aquatic animals from third countries.

Further information on UK BIP’s.

Exporting live aquatic animals

Check with the Competent Authority or Official Service for Aquatic Animal Health in the destination country or via their embassy in the UK to find out what documentation you need.

Exports to the EU:

  1. if an Export Animal Health Certificate (EAHC) is required you must contact the Fish Health Inspectorate at Cefas, to apply for an Export Animal Health Certificate. EAHCs must be signed by a FHI following an inspection of the consignment.
  2. the consignment must enter the EU via a BIP within the EU. You’ll need to consider if your current trade routes could be affected. There is not currently a BIP at Calais, although French authorities expect these to be operational by the end of March 2019, details of EU BIPs.
  3. you must follow the EU customs processes for third countries for example, completing customs declarations and paying tariffs.

The UK has applied for third country status and the UK government is confident that the UK meets the animal health requirements for live aquatic animals. The Fish Health Inspectorate at Cefas manages the administration of the model animal health certificates, required for exports of live aquatic animals for aquaculture, and for ornamental purposes, in a format that meets EU requirements:

  • model animal health certificate for the import into the EU of aquaculture animals for farming, relaying, put and take fisheries and open ornamental facilities
  • model animal health certificate for the import into the EU of ornamental aquatic animals intended for closed ornamental facilities
  • model animal health certificate for the import into the EU of salamanders and newts

Trade Agreements

If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, there will be no implementation period. In this scenario, the government will seek to bring into force UK-third country agreements from exit day, or as soon as possible afterwards. These new agreements will replicate existing EU agreements as far as possible. Details of each agreement will be shared with parliament and the public when they have been agreed.

Read the guidance on existing free trade agreements if there’s no EU exit deal.


If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, goods traded between the UK and the EU after exit will be subject to the same requirements as third country goods, including duty payments.

The EU will require importers of UK goods to pay customs duty at the most favoured nation rate under the EU’s Common Commercial Tariff. In general, it will be the responsibility of the EU importer rather than the UK exporter to declare imports to the appropriate Member State customs authority and pay any tariff due.

Data Protection

You will need to make sure your business follows data protection law if the UK leaves the EU on 29 March 2019 without a deal.

If you operate across the EU or exchange personal data with organisations in the EEA, there may be changes that you need to make before the UK leaves the EU. Read the 6 step process and the data protection guidance from the Information Commissioner’s Office.

You can also check if you can use standard contractual clauses for transfers from the EEA to the UK.

More Information

Prepare for EU Exit to find more guidance on policy changes relevant to your sector and sign up for updates.


Fish Health Inspectorate

Published 25 February 2019