Find out how to import or move live animals, including equines, germinal products, animal by-products and high risk food and feed not of animal origin from the EU and Northern Ireland to Great Britain.
This guidance applies to businesses in Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales) importing or moving the following goods from the EU and Northern Ireland:
- high risk food or feed not of animal origin (HRFNAO)
- animal by-products (ABP)
- live animals, including equines from Norway
- germinal products (semen, ova and embryos)
You need to follow different guidance if you’re importing:
- food and drink that are products of animal origin (POAO)
- composite products from the EU and Northern Ireland
- live animals, including equines and animal products from non-EU countries
Check what documents you need
Imports need to come with one or all of the following documents:
- health certificate
- import licence
- commercial document
Find out what documents you need for your animal or product from the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) Vet Gateway.
Imported goods must come with a commercial document from the supplier. It must include:
- details of what’s in the consignment
- the name of the person who sent it
- the name of the person it’s being sent to
Health certificates: when you need one
You need a health certificate to import:
- most live animals, including equines
- germinal products
The EU exporter must:
- apply for the health certificate in their own country - competent authorities should use model health certificates to create versions that exporters can apply for
- give you an electronic copy to upload to the import of products, animals, food and feed system (IPAFFS)
The original certificate (not a copy) must travel with the consignment.
Health certificates for imports of the following goods will be introduced from 1 July 2022:
Certain animals and animal products must have an import licence or authorisation to be imported into Great Britain.
Check the list of general licences to see if the licence you need already exists.
If it does, you do not need to apply for it but you must follow the conditions described in it (for example, it might need certain treatments or other documentation).
If the licence you need is not on the list, you might need to apply for an import licence for animal pathogens and products. Check with APHA’s Centre for International Trade first.
If you want to import rodents, lagomorphs (rabbits, hares and pikas) and most exotic mammals, you must apply for a licence to import live animals excluding pet dogs, cats and ferrets.
Approved businesses for animal product imports
You can only import the following animal products from businesses approved by the EU to trade with the UK:
Add information about the business you’re importing from
You need to add information to IPAFFS about the business you’re importing from, if it’s coming from:
- the EU
- Iceland, Norway, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, San Marino, Faroes or Greenland
Follow these steps to add the approved business:
- Sign in or register to use IPAFFS
- On the ‘Traders addresses’ page, select ‘Add a place of origin’, then select ‘Create a new place of origin’.
- In the ‘Place of origin name’ field, enter the full name of the exporting business, then its authorisation number.
- In the ‘Place of origin’ fields, enter the full address, telephone number, country and email address for the business.
- Save these details. Details will be saved to your address book so that you can use them again.
- Add the approved business to your pre-notification.
Import high risk food and feed not of animal origin (HRFNAO)
From 1 January 2022 you must use IPAFFS to notify enforcement authorities in Great Britain about imports of HRFNAO.
You must notify authorities at least one working day before the goods arrive.
HRFNAO imports from 1 July 2022
From 1 July 2022, imports of HRFNAO must:
- be pre-notified on IPAFFS by the importer
- be accompanied by a health certificate if available
- enter Great Britain through a UK border control post (BCP) so they can have documentary checks, and if necessary identity and physical checks
Import animal by-products (ABP)
ABP are in either high risk or low risk categories.
In the majority of cases, you will not be able to import category 1 and 2 ABP.
If your category 1 or category 2 ABP can be imported, you must get pre-authorisation from Defra before any imports take place.
ABP must be accompanied by a commercial document when you import them from the EU. Contact the Animal Plant Health Agency (APHA) if you’re unsure whether you need a commercial document.
ABP imports from 1 January 2022
From 1 January 2022 you must use IPAFFS to notify enforcement authorities in Great Britain about imports of ABP.
ABP imports from 1 July 2022
From 1 July 2022, imports of ABP must:
- be pre-notified on use IPAFFS by the importer
- 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
- enter Great Britain through an established point of entry with an appropriate border control post (BCP)
Check if your product must be imported through a point of entry with an appropriate BCP by looking for the combined nomenclature (CN) code for your product in:
Import live animals and germinal products
Live animals, including equines and germinal products 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
When you submit your import notification onto IPAFFS, you’ll get a unique notification number (UNN) for the product. The format of this number will be IMP.GB.2021.1XXXXXX.
You must give the UNN to the EU exporter or official veterinarian (OV).
The exporter or OV must add the UNN to the health certificate and give you a copy.
You must then go back into IPAFFS and attach the health certificate copy to your import notification.
Exporters from the EU and Norway must ensure that all equines meet testing requirements, as well as isolation and residency rules.
Tests for equines
Some equines need testing for certain diseases before they’re imported from the EU or Norway to Great Britain. Equines that are registered with one of the following do not need to be tested before they’re imported:
- an EU-approved studbook
- a national branch of an international body for sporting or competition purposes
All other equines require testing before they’re imported.
Your exporter must ensure that all unregistered equines are tested for:
- equine infectious anaemia (within 30 days before travel)
- equine viral arteritis (within 21 days before travel for uncastrated male equines that are older than 180 days, unless they meet vaccination requirements)
Isolation and residency requirements
Your exporter must keep unregistered equines:
- on a holding in the country or a country with similar health status for 40 days prior to travel
- separated from other equines that do not have equivalent health status, for at least 30 days prior to travel
Registered equines do not have to meet any isolation or residency requirements before they’re imported from the EU or Norway to Great Britain.
You should check that your exporter is aware of these new requirements.
Import non-harmonized animals
Imports of non-harmonized animals, such as reptiles, amphibians (except salamanders) and invertebrates (except bees, molluscs and crustaceans) must be:
- pre-notified by the importer using IPAFFS one working day in advance of arrival at the point of entry
- accompanied by the relevant commercial documents - including an invoice and packing list containing details of species, number of animals, premises of origin and premises of destination
- accompanied by an exporter declaration that the animals are ‘fit to travel’ for commercial moves
Live animal imports from 1 July 2022
Live animals must enter Great Britain through an established point of entry with an appropriate border control post (BCP) from 1 July 2022 for documentary, identity and physical checks.
The level of physical and identity checks 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.
Germinal products imports from 1 July 2022
Germinal products must enter Great Britain through an established point of entry with an appropriate border control post (BCP) from 1 July 2022 for documentary, identity and physical checks.
The level of physical and identity checks from 1 July 2022 will be based on assessments of biosecurity and public health risks.
Check if you need to notify APHA
You need to notify APHA if you plan to import live animals that do not need a health certificate or official documentation, but do have to be notified under Trade in Animals and Related Products regulations (TARP). For example, insects, reptiles and amphibians.
If you’re importing to Northern Ireland, contact DAERA for advice about what you need to do.
When your consignment arrives
Animals must be taken directly to the destination premises listed in the documentation. Depending on the species imported, animals may need to stay at the destination premises for 48 hours.
Consignments may need a post-import check. APHA will contact you to arrange a visit if they do.
Documents to transport live animals from EU to Great Britain
To transport live animals from the EU to Great Britain, or to Northern Ireland via Great Britain, transporters must apply for the following documents issued by Great Britain:
- transporter authorisation
- certificate of competence
- vehicle approval certificate
Great Britain does not accept EU-issued versions of these documents. You can use EU versions in Northern Ireland.
You must apply for 2 journey logs for live animal movements from the EU to, or through, Great Britain:
- one approved by APHA
- one approved by the EU member state of origin
For more information contact CITCarlisle@apha.gov.uk.
Documents to transport live animals from Northern Ireland to Great Britain
Transporter authorisation, certificates of competence and vehicle approval certificates issued in Northern Ireland are valid for use in Great Britain.
Moving equines from Northern Ireland to Great Britain
To move horses and other equines from Northern Ireland to Great Britain, you need to check the exporter has the correct equine identification (ID).
If the equine is going to return to Northern Ireland, the exporter must also have appropriate documentation that shows the date that the equine left Northern Ireland.
Transiting live animals through Great Britain
Read guidance about moving food containing animal products from one third country to another third country and transiting GB, known as ‘landbridge’ movements.
Animal welfare when importing live animals
You must make sure you meet animal welfare standards when importing live animals.
Imports from the EU to Northern Ireland
There will be no changes to the way live animals, animal products and HRFNAO are imported from the EU into Northern Ireland.
Movements from Northern Ireland to Great Britain
You can move animals, animal products and HRFNAO from Northern Ireland to Great Britain if they are qualifying Northern Ireland goods.
Qualifying Northern Ireland goods are goods:
- in free circulation in Northern Ireland - which means they are not under customs supervision (except when that supervision arises from the goods being taken out of Northern Ireland or the EU)
- which have undergone processing operations in Northern Ireland under the inward processing procedure, and only incorporate inputs which were in free circulation in the UK
These arrangements will not apply to goods covered by specific rules such as Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
If you need help
Contact APHA’s Centre for International Trade Carlisle if you’re not sure about anything in this guide.