- Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs and Animal and Plant Health Agency
- Part of:
- Guidance on importing and exporting live animals or animal products
- 12 September 2014
- Last updated:
- 11 October 2016, see all updates
Getting the right licence, where you can import from, and the checks your consignment must pass at a Border Inspection Post (BIP).
Commercial imports of most animals and products of animal origin are covered by EU legislation.
Consignments should be accompanied by appropriate certification and must enter the EU through a Border Inspection Post where checks are carried out to ensure that import conditions have been met. In most cases, you do not need an import licence or authorisation.
Compliance with animal health and welfare controls does not remove the need to comply with other relevant legislation, including those relating to the control of trade in endangered species.
To satisfy yourself that you can comply with the trade, welfare and animal health rules, you may also wish to contact the APHA Centre for International Trade Carlisle for further guidance.
You should also check our topical issues page for current issues relating to imports and exports of animals and animal products.
If you wish to receive information on changes or updates to imports of animals and animal products rules via email, you should complete and return the request for information form.
Checking if you need a licence
Certain animals and products of animal origin including some that are covered by European Union regulations must have an import licence or authorisation to be imported into Great Britain.
Check the list of general licences that are available to see if the licence you need already exists.
If the general licence or authorisation you need exists, you don’t have to apply, but you must make sure you follow the conditions in the published licence.
Some general licences must travel with the consignment - check your general licence to see if this is the case.
If the general licence you need doesn’t exist, you must apply for a specific licence for that product using form IV58.
You should return the completed application form to:
- the APHA Centre for International Trade Carlisle if the entry point is in England
- the Scottish or Welsh government if the entry point is in Scotland or Wales
Some animals, such as rodents, lagomorphs and most exotic mammals, must have a specific licence - complete form RM01 for this licence.
Where you can import from
You can only bring live animals or animal products into the EU from countries on the EU’s approved list. The lists of approved countries is often included at the back of the EU regulations that govern the movement.
Contact the APHA Centre for International Trade: Carlisle to find out which legislation applies.
Many animal products must come from establishments that are approved to export into the EU.
When you need a health certificate
If you’re importing live animals and animal products, you must make sure the exporter you’re working with gets the health certificate required by EU or national law.
You can contact the APHA Centre for International Trade Carlisle to find out when you need to do this.
When you need a commercial document
You may also need your consignment to be accompanied by a commercial document.
You can contact the APHA Centre for International Trade Carlisle to find out when you do.
The exporter should draw up the commercial document and should include amongst other things:
- a description of what you’re importing
- the names of the importer and the exporter
Getting imports checked at a Border Inspection Post (BIP)
Finding out if your consignment must be checked
Most consignments of animal and animal products must be checked at a Border Inspection Post (BIP).
You can contact the APHA Centre for International Trade Carlisle to find out if your consignment must be checked.
Before the consignment arrives
It’s a legal requirement to tell the Border Inspection Post about your consignment in advance - if you don’t, you may be charged an additional fee or your checks could take longer.
For animals, you must complete part 1 of the common veterinary entry document (CVED) and return it to the Border Inspection Post, 24 hours before your consignment is due to arrive.
For animal products, you must complete part 1 of the CVED and return it to the Border Inspection Post before the consignment is unloaded.
You should contact the Border Inspection Post you plan to use to discuss how you should notify them about your consignments. The BIP can also give you a blank CVED.
You must make sure original health certificates travel with all consignments. You can’t use a faxed or photocopied version.
Finding the right Border Inspection Post
You must make sure the Border Inspection Post you’re using is approved to check the animals or animal products in your shipment.
When your consignment arrives
When your consignment arrives, port operators may charge you to move it to the Border Inspection Post.
Official veterinarians at the Border Inspection Post will then check animal or animal product identity and documentation.
They may also carry out a physical check.
If your consignment passes the check, officials will give you a completed and validated CVED.
You must pay a fee to have your consignment checked at a Border Inspection Post.
Check the table below to see what fees you’ll have to pay for animals.
|Inspection of animal and document check||Fee per consignment|
|Poultry, ratites and small game birds||£44|
|Live fish, aquatic animals and reptiles||£40|
|Rabbits and rodents||£44|
|Bees, other insects and invertebrates||£40|
|Farmed livestock including cattle, sheep, goats, camelids, pigs, wild boars||£54|
|Animals not covered by any other category||£44|
|Transhipment check of documents||£44|
You must pay an additional fee of £80 to get a whole or part inspection done at weekends, or any time outside of 8:30am and 5:00pm on week days.
Contact the Border Inspection Post you plan to use for information on the fee you’ll be charged, and fees for animal products.
Leaving the BIP
You must not remove your consignment from the Border Inspection Post or customs clearance area until official veterinarians have completed and validated the CVED.
When your consignment leaves the Border Inspection Post, you must make sure it goes directly to the destination named on the CVED.
You must make sure the CVED accompanies the consignment to this destination.
You must keep any livestock at the destination for at least 30 days after they arrive. In some cases the animals may have to stay at the premises for longer.
You can bring any fruit, vegetables, meat, fish, dairy or other animal products (eg eggs, honey) into the UK if you’re travelling from a country in the EU.
You can’t bring meat, meat products, milk, dairy products or potatoes into the UK from most countries outside the EU.
There are more than 25,000 endangered species covered by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).
It covers plants and animal and their parts and derivatives.
If you’re importing an endangered species into the EU, you may need to apply for a CITES permit before the import takes place.
Find out more about CITES, including the species that are on the CITES list.
Display, laboratory, and research animals
The Balai Directive sets out the regulations for importing display, laboratory and research animals, as well as those used in conservation or education programmes.
Animal welfare when importing live animals
You must make sure you meet animal welfare standards when importing live animals.
Contact the APHA Centre for International Trade Carlisle.
Published: 12 September 2014
Updated: 11 October 2016
- Updated contact details links to the European Commission.
- Change of address for Centre for International Trade Carlisle.
- General review and update to clarify guidance in some sections including commercial imports, notifying the BIP
- Added a link to the form to request updates on changes to rules on imports of animals and animal products.
- Updated guidance under the general licences heading.
- AHVLA documents have been re-assigned to the new Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA).
- First published.