Guidance

Importing animals, animal products and high-risk food and feed not of animal origin from 1 January 2021

What you need to do to import animals, animal products, high-risk food and feed into Great Britain from 1 January 2021.

New rules for January 2021

The UK has left the EU, and the transition period after Brexit comes to an end this year.

This page tells you what you'll need to do from 1 January 2021. It will be updated if anything changes.

You can also read about the transition period.

Health certificates for imports into Great Britain

Requirements for health certificates for imports of animals and animal products into Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales) will be introduced in phases from January to July 2021.

Health certificates for imports to GB will be substantially the same as existing EU certificates for imports from the rest of the world. You should use existing EU certificates for guidance on what will be required.

Import from a non-EU country

You’ll no longer have access to the EU’s import system TRACES (Trade Control and Expert System) from 1 January 2021.

You’ll need to use the UK’s new Import of Products, Animals, Food and Feed System (IPAFFS) for imports of:

  • live animals
  • products of animal origin (POAOs) subject to veterinary checks
  • high-risk food and feed not of non-animal origin
  • germplasm (also called germinal products)
  • animal by-products (ABPs) not intended for human consumption subject to veterinary checks

High-risk food or feed of non-animal origin

You must continue to import high-risk food or feed of non-animal origin into the UK through a border control post (BCP), previously called a border inspection post (BIP) or designated point of entry (DPE). Find out which BCP you should use.

Importers should check if their product must be vet checked at a BCP by looking for the CN code for their product in:

Live animals, germplasm, POAOs and ABP

You must continue to import live animals, germinal products, POAOs and ABP that are subject to vet checks into the UK through a UK BCP. Find out which BCP you should use.

Importers should check if the CN code for their product is listed in Regulation 2019/2007 to find out if the POAO or ABP must be vet checked at a BCP.

You must use IPAFFS to notify the GB BCP at least one working day before your consignment is due to arrive.

For imports of certain POAOs and ABP that do not require veterinary checks at a BCP, there is no requirement to pre-notify a port of the arrival of the consignment.

Import from an EU country

There will be new processes that importers must follow. These processes to import from an EU country will be introduced in 3 stages:

The UK will operate a full, external border with the EU from 1 January 2021. This means that there will be controls on the movement of goods between the EU and GB.

You’ll need to use the UK’s IPAFFS for imports of:

  • live animals
  • POAO subject to veterinary checks
  • high-risk food and feed not of non-animal origin
  • germplasm (also called germinal products)
  • ABPs not intended for human consumption subject to veterinary checks

Import from an EU country from 1 January 2021

There are new rules for importing animal products, live animals and germinal products into GB from the EU from 1 January 2021.

Animal Products: POAO and ABPs

ABPs are in either high risk or low risk categories. Find out what products are in the different ABP categories.

You must get pre-authorisation from Defra for high-risk ABPs under Category 1 and Category 2 before any imports take place.

You must use IPAFFS to pre-notify the arrival of:

  • high-risk ABPs and category 3 processed animal protein (PAP)
  • POAO which are subject to safeguard measures

ABPs will continue to be accompanied by commercial documentation when you import them from the EU. Contact the Animal Plant Health Agency (APHA) if you’re unsure whether you need a commercial document.

POAO which are subject to safeguard measures must be accompanied by a health certificate.

You’ll need to give the EU exporter or official veterinarian the unique notification number (UNN) that is produced on IPAFFS when you pre-notify APHA of the import. The EU exporter must add the UNN to the commercial documentation or health certificate (if one is required).

Regulators in England, Scotland and Wales can take emergency safeguard action at short notice to prohibit or restrict the import of certain products from certain countries following an outbreak of disease or a public health issue. Check for updates on disease outbreaks which may affect imports into the UK.

New import requirements for other POAO will not apply until 1 April 2021.

New import requirements for low-risk ABPs will not apply until 1 July 2021.

Live animals and germinal products

From 1 January 2021 live animals, including equines and germinal products imported from the EU, will be subject to new import controls.

Goods must be:

  • accompanied by a health certificate
  • pre-notified by the importer using IPAFFS at least one working day before the expected time of arrival at the point of entry

You’ll need to give the EU exporter or official veterinarian the unique notification number (UNN) produced by IPAFFS when you pre-notify APHA about the import. The exporter must add the UNN to the commercial documentation or health certificate.

APHA will continue to carry out identity and physical checks on EU imports of live animals at their destination based on assessments of biosecurity and public health risks until July 2021.

Documents to transport live animals

To transport live animals from the EU to GB, or to NI via GB, transporters will need to apply for GB-issued:

  • transporter authorisation
  • certificate of competence
  • vehicle approval certificate

GB will not accept EU-issued versions of these documents. You’ll still be able to use EU versions in NI.

You’ll need to apply for 2 journey logs for live animal movements from the EU to, or through, GB:

  • one approved by APHA
  • one approved by the EU member state of origin

Further information on the requirements to transport live animals to or from Northern Ireland, will be added to this guide.

For more information contact CITCarlisle@apha.gov.uk.

Import from an EU country from 1 April 2021

There are new rules for importing animal products, live animals and germinal products, and high-risk food and feed not of animal origin into GB from the EU from 1 April 2021.

Animal Products: POAO and ABPs

From 1 April 2021, POAO imports must be:

  • accompanied by a health certificate so they can have remote documentary checks
  • pre-notified by the importer using IPAFFS

Import requirements for high-risk ABPs and POAO under safeguard measures introduced on 1 January 2021 will continue to apply.

New import requirements for low-risk ABPs will not apply until 1 July 2021.

Live animals and germinal products

Import controls on live animals, including equines and germinal products, will remain unchanged from those introduced on 1 January 2021 until 1 July 2021.

High-risk food and feed not of animal origin

From 1 April 2021, anyone importing high-risk food and feed not of animal origin (HRFNAO) must use IPAFFS to submit import pre-notifications.

Import from an EU country from 1 July 2021

There are new rules for importing animal products, live animals and germinal products, and high-risk food and feed not of animal origin into GB from the EU from 1 July 2021.

Animal Products: POAO and ABPs

All POAOs and certain ABPs must enter GB at an established point of entry with an appropriate BCP from 1 July 2021.

Check if your product must be imported through a point of entry with an appropriate BCP by looking for the CN code for your product in:

Goods must:

  • be accompanied by a health certificate if available - if there is no health certificate for your commodity, contact APHA as goods may be able to travel under licence and a commercial document
  • be pre-notified by the importer using IPAFFS
  • enter at an established point of entry with an appropriate BCP so they’re available for documentary, identity and physical checks

Live animals and germinal products

New import requirements will apply to live animals, including equines and germinal products from the EU from 1 July 2021.

Goods must:

  • be accompanied by a health certificate so they can have documentary checks
  • be pre-notified by the importer using IPAFFS
  • enter at an established point of entry with an appropriate BCP so they’re available for documentary, identity and physical checks

The level of physical and identity checks from 1 July 2021 will be based on assessments of biosecurity and public health risks.

All high-risk live animals imported from the EU will continue to be checked. The UK will review controls on goods following existing and new trade agreements and any changes in risk status during 2021. Any changes to controls on EU live animals and germinal products will be introduced after January 2022.

High-risk food and feed not of animal origin

From 1 July 2021, anyone importing high-risk food and feed not of animal origin must:

  • submit import pre-notifications at least one working day in advance of the goods’ arrival
  • enter them through a BCP so they can have documentary checks, and if necessary identity and physical checks

Find a full list of UK BCPs.

Published 10 June 2020
Last updated 29 October 2020 + show all updates
  1. Added guidance on documents you'll need to transport live animals.

  2. Added that you must get pre-authorisation from Defra for high-risk ABPs before any imports take place.

  3. Updated with guidance on rules for importing animals and animal products to Great Britain from January, April and July 2021.

  4. Reverted changes announced today (26 August 2020) - you will not have to use IPAFFS from 7 September and can continue using TRACES.

  5. Added statement that "New import requirements for POAO will not apply until 1 April 2021."

  6. New sections on importing from an EU country added, including the rules from 1 January 2021, 1 April 2021 and 1 July 2021.

  7. First published.