Guidance

Importing or moving live animals, animal products and high risk food and feed not of animal origin

The checks you need to make, the documents you need and how to notify the authorities for live animals, including equines, animal products and high risk food or feed not of animal origin.

This guidance applies to businesses in Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales) importing or moving:

  • live animals, animal products and high risk food or feed not of animal origin (HRFNAO) from the EU and Northern Ireland (NI)
  • equines from Norway

You need to follow different guidance if you’re importing live animals, including equines and animal products from non-EU countries.

Check if your animal product import must come from an approved establishment

Imports of the following animal products must come from an establishment that has been approved by the exporting country to trade with the UK:

  • high risk animal by-products (ABP)
  • germinal products
  • products of animal origin (POAO) under safeguard measures

You can check if an establishment is approved on the EU lists of approved establishments for:

Each establishment will have an approval number.

You must pre-notify imports from EU countries, and certain countries in the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), on the Import of Products, Animals, Food and Feed System (IPAFFS).

Read more guidance on the requirements for different animal products in the Border Operating Model.

Importing from approved establishments in EU countries

To import from EU member states, you need to manually enter details of the approved establishment in IPAFFS:

  1. On the ‘Traders addresses’ page, select ‘Add a place of origin’, then select ‘Create a new place of origin’.

  2. In the ‘Place of origin name’ field, enter the full name of the exporting establishment, then its authorisation number. You can check the name against the EU’s lists of approved establishments.

  3. In the ‘Place of origin’ fields, enter the full address, telephone number, country and email address for the approved establishment where requested.

  4. Save these details. Then you can add the approved establishment to your pre-notification. Details will be saved to your address book so that you can use them again.

Importing from approved establishments in Iceland, Norway, Switzerland, Lichtenstein, San Marino, Faroes or Greenland

If there is no option on IPAFFS to select the approved establishment from a drop-down menu, you need to enter details manually following the same process as for 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.

Health certificate

You need a health certificate for:

Requirements for health certificates for imports of live animals, animal products and HRFNAO into GB will be introduced in phases from October 2021 to March 2022.

You must make sure the person you’re importing from arranges the health certificate in their own country. The original certificate (not a copy) must travel with the consignment and they must give you an electronic copy to upload to IPAFFS.

Health certificates for equines

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 GB. 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 GB.

You should check that your exporter is aware of these new requirements.

Health certificates for ABP

To import category 1 or 2 ABP from the EU to GB, you must get an authorisation document. Contact APHA if you’re not sure how to do this.

Import licence

Certain animals and animal products must have an import licence or authorisation to be imported into GB.

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.

Commercial document

Make sure the person you’re importing your goods from completes a commercial document. 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

Importing ABP and POAO

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

  • high-risk ABP and category 3 processed animal protein (PAP)
  • POAO under safeguard measures (where a commodity code is available)

ABP imports

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.

POAO under safeguard measures imports

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

When you submit your import notification on IPAFFS you’ll get a unique notification number (UNN). The format of this number will be IMP.GB.2021.1XXXXXX.

You must give this UNN to the EU exporter or official veterinarian (OV).

The EU exporter or the OV will add the UNN to the health certificate.

The EU exporter will then provide you with an electronic copy of the health certificate to upload on to IPAFFS.

For new and emerging disease outbreaks

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.

If safeguard measures are in place because of a new or emerging disease and your commodity code is unavailable in IPAFFS, follow these steps to pre-notify:

  1. Download and fill in the Import notification form for POAO under safeguard measures IV70. Send the IV70 form to the Centre for International Trade - Carlisle (APHA CIT) at APHAGBimports@apha.gov.uk. Use the email subject: ‘URGENT – POAO SAFEGUARDING UNN REQUIRED’.

  2. APHA CIT will give you a UNN. Give this to the EU exporter or OV to add to the health certificate.

  3. The EU exporter will give you an electronic copy of the health certificate.

  4. Email the completed IV70 and health certificate to APHA CIT at APHAGBimports@apha.gov.uk. Include the UNN in the email subject heading. For example: ‘IMPORT NOTIFICATION - POAO UNDER SAFEGUARD MEASURES IMP.GB.2021.2000001’.

  5. APHA CIT will email you with the updated form with the UNN and the health certificate.

New import requirements for other POAO and low risk ABP will apply from 1 October 2021.

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

You’ll need to give the EU exporter or OV the unique notification number (UNN) automatically produced by IPAFFS when you submit your import notification. The format of this number will be IMP.GB.2021.1XXXXXX.

The OV must add the UNN to the health certificate. A copy of the health certificate must be attached to the import notification.

APHA will carry out identity and physical checks on imports of live animals from the EU at their destination, based on a risk assessment until March 2022.

Import non-harmonized animals such as reptiles, amphibians (except salamanders) and invertebrates (except bees, molluscs and crustaceans)

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

Import from an EU country from 1 October 2021

There are new rules for importing animal products and HRFNAO into GB from the EU from 1 October 2021.

POAO: imports from 1 October 2021

From 1 October 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 POAO under safeguard measures introduced on 1 January 2021 will continue to apply.

ABP: imports from 1 October 2021

From 1 October 2021 certain ABP imports 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
  • pre-notified by the importer using IPAFFS

HRFNAO: imports from 1 October 2021

From 1 October 2021, anyone importing HRFNAO must use IPAFFS to submit import pre-notifications.

Import from an EU country from 1 January 2022

There are new rules for importing animal products, germinal products, and HRFNAO into GB from the EU from 1 January 2022.

POAO and ABP: imports from 1 January 2022

POAO and ABP must enter GB at an established point of entry with an appropriate BCP from 1 January 2022.

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:

Germinal Products: imports from 1 January 2022

New import requirements will apply to germinal products from the EU from 1 January 2022. 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 January 2022 will be based on assessments of biosecurity and public health risks.

HRFNAO: imports from 1 January 2022

From 1 January 2022, anyone importing HRFNAO 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.

Import from an EU country from 1 March 2022

There are new rules for importing live animals, including equines into GB from the EU from 1 March 2022.

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 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.

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 NI, 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 GB

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

  • transporter authorisation
  • certificate of competence
  • vehicle approval certificate

GB does not accept EU-issued versions of these documents. You can use EU versions in NI.

Journey logs

You must 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

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

Documents to transport live animals from NI to GB

Transporter authorisation, certificates of competence and vehicle approval certificates issued in NI are valid for use in GB.

For further information on documents to transport live animals email APHA: CITCarlisle@apha.gov.uk or DAERA.

Moving equines from NI to GB

To move horses and other equines from NI to GB, you need to check the exporter has the correct equine identification (ID).

If the equine is going to return to NI, the exporter must also have appropriate documentation that shows the date that the equine left NI.

Transiting live animals through GB

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 NI

There will be no changes to the way live animals, animal products and HRFNAO are imported from the EU into NI.

Movements from NI to GB

You can move animals, animal products and HRFNAO from NI to GB if they are qualifying NI goods.

Qualifying NI goods are goods:

  • in free circulation in NI - which means they are not under customs supervision (except when that supervision arises from the goods being taken out of NI or the EU)
  • which have undergone processing operations in NI 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.

Published 31 December 2020
Last updated 11 March 2021 + show all updates
  1. Updated with new dates for when you’ll need to pre-notify imports from the EU and for when they need to enter Great Britain through a Border Control Post (BCP).

  2. Content added on health certificate requirements for equines.

  3. First published.