Guidance

Importing live animals or animal products from non-EU countries

Guidance on where you can import from, getting the right licence and the border checks your import must pass at border inspection posts (BIP).

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Prepare for Brexit

The rules for moving animals and animal products will change after a no-deal Brexit. Find out how importers should prepare for a no-deal Brexit.

You should follow different rules for personal imports of animals and animal products into the UK.

Before you start, you should check the current topical issues like diseases for your import.

To import an animal or animal product into the UK you must:

  • provide the correct certification with your import
  • enter the EU through a border inspection post (BIP), where checks will be carried out to make sure that the import conditions have been met

In some cases, you will also need:

  • an import licence or authorisation
  • a commercial document
  • to meet some other legal requirements, like those controlling the trade in endangered species

If you would like email updates about any changes to the rules about importing animals and animal products, complete and return the request for information form.

Check if you need a licence

Some animals and animal products must have an import licence to be imported into Great Britain. Check the list of general licences to see if the licence you need exists.

You must follow the conditions in the licence and check your licence to see if it must also travel with the consignment.

If the general licence you need does not exist, you must either:

  • complete form RM01 to apply for a specific licence for animals (excluding pet dogs, cats or ferrets)
  • complete form IV58 to apply for a specific licence for animal pathogens and products

Where you can import from

You can only bring live animals or animal products into the UK from countries on the EU’s approved list. Contact the APHA Centre for International Trade Carlisle to find out if the country you’re importing from is on the EU’s approved list.

Many animal products must also come from establishments that are approved to export into the EU. Use the European Commission’s list of approved establishments.

Getting imports checked at a border inspection post (BIP)

Most consignments of animal and animal products must be checked at a BIP. Contact the APHA Centre for International Trade Carlisle to find out if your consignment must be checked.

Finding the right BIP

You must make sure the BIP you’re using is approved to check the animals or animal products in your shipment. Find a UK BIP or an EU BIP on the European Commission’s website.

Fees

You must pay a fee to have your consignment checked at a BIP. See the BIP fees table or contact the BIP you plan to use for information on the fee you’ll be charged.

Notify the BIP before the consignment arrives

You must tell the BIP about your consignment before you import. If you do not, you may be charged an additional fee or your checks could take longer. To do this you will need to get a blank common veterinary entry document (CVED) from your BIP.

For animals, you must complete part 1 of the CVED and give it to the BIP 24 hours before your consignment is due to arrive.

For animal products, you must complete part 1 of the CVED and give it to the BIP before the consignment is unloaded.

You must make sure the original health certificates travel with all consignments. You cannot use a faxed or photocopied version. You should also contact the BIP you plan to use to discuss how you should notify them about your consignments.

When your consignment arrives

When your consignment arrives, port operators may charge you to move it to the BIP.

Official veterinarians at the BIP will then check the animal or animal product 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.

Leaving the BIP

You must not remove your consignment from the BIP or customs clearance area until official veterinarians have completed and validated the CVED.

After your consignment leaves the BIP, you must:

  • make sure your consignment goes directly to the destination named on the CVED
  • make sure the CVED goes with your consignment to its destination
  • keep any livestock at the destination for at least 30 days after they arrive, and in some cases longer

Animal welfare when importing live animals

You must make sure you meet animal welfare standards when importing live animals.

Endangered species

You need to check if your import is part of the list of endangered species covered by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). If your import is on the CITES list, you may need to apply for a CITES permit before importing.

Find out more about CITES, including whether your import is on the CITES list.

Display, laboratory and research animals

If you are importing display, laboratory and research animals, including those used in conservation or education programmes, you will need to follow the regulations in The Balai Directive.

Contact APHA for help

Contact the APHA Centre for International Trade Carlisle for help.

Published 12 September 2014
Last updated 21 August 2019 + show all updates
  1. Highlighted the link to guidance about how importers should prepare for Brexit.
  2. Updated to include link to EU Exit guidance
  3. Replaced the link to UK border inspection posts on the EU website with a link to UK border inspection posts on GOV.UK in the section Finding the right Border Inspection Post.
  4. BIP fees updated
  5. Updated contact details links to the European Commission.
  6. Change of address for Centre for International Trade Carlisle.
  7. General review and update to clarify guidance in some sections including commercial imports, notifying the BIP
  8. Added a link to the form to request updates on changes to rules on imports of animals and animal products.
  9. Updated guidance under the general licences heading.
  10. AHVLA documents have been re-assigned to the new Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA).
  11. First published.