Moving live animals or animal products as part of EU trade

The countries that are part of EU trade, the certificates you need, and how to get consignments checked.

Countries and animals covered by EU trade

If you’re moving the following live animals or animal products within the EU, or Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Iceland, this is considered EU trade:

  • cattle
  • sheep and goats
  • pigs
  • horses
  • poultry and hatching eggs
  • germinal products (semen, ova and embryos of horses, cattle, sheep, pigs and goats)
  • rabbits and hares
  • cats, dogs and ferrets
  • non-domestic ungulates (camelids, alpacas, llamas, non-domestic bovines, deer, pronghorns)
  • birds vaccinated against avian influenza

Live animals, but not animal products, entering the UK from Iceland must enter through a border control post.

Moving live animals or germinal products: use an Intra Trade Animal Health Certificate (ITAHC)

If you’re sending or receiving live animals within the EU, your consignment must be accompanied by an Intra Trade Animal Health Certificate (ITAHC).

Exporting live animals or germinal products

If you’re moving live animals or germinal products from Great Britain to another country that’s part of EU trade, it’s your responsibility to get the ITAHC.

Nominating an official veterinarian (ov)

When you apply for an ITAHC you must nominate an ov.

An ov is a registered veterinarian who’s been officially authorised to sign trade documents and make sure a consignment meets requirements.

Ask your local veterinary practice if there’s an ov working there.

If not, contact the ov team at the APHA Customer Service Centre Worcester to find your nearest ov.

You can also email the ov team.

Applying for a new ITAHC

In Great Britain, you can contact APHA to apply for a new ITAHC.

Reissuing an ITAHC

You can get an existing ITAHC reissued by using the EU’s Trade Control and Expert System (TRACES).

You can create an ITAHC using TRACES in any of these ways:

Contact APHA for more details.

Importing live animals or germinal products

If you’re bringing the live animals or germinal products into Great Britain, you must make sure the person you’re importing the goods from has arranged the ITAHC in their own country.

If you’re trading live animals or germinal products that are not on the list, you may still need an import licence or another form of documentation. Contact the Animal and Plant Heath Agency (APHA) if you’re not sure what you need.

Your importer must notify APHA of all live animals and germinal products at least 24 hours before arriving into Great Britain.

Getting incoming live animals checked

You must notify APHA by using the Import of Products, Animals, Food and Feed System (IPAFFS) to complete your import notification form.

The notification must include:

  • what you’re importing
  • the date on which the consignment will arrive in GB
  • the place from which it will come
  • the consignment’s destination

You must make sure the original health certificates travel with the consignment to the destination, and are kept by the person who ordered the consignment.

The transporter should keep the journey log and animal transport certificate.

After your consignment arrives

Live animals and germinal products must be taken directly to the place of destination named on the health certificate.

You must rest livestock (except for registered horses) for 48 hours before moving them again.

APHA might contact you to carry out a physical check of your consignment at its destination.

Animal identification

All animals must have the correct identification.

Cattle must have passports, and ear tags in each ear - find out more about cattle identification requirements.

Horses, donkeys, and ponies must have passports - find out more about horse, donkey, and pony identification requirements.

Sheep and goats must have an electronic identifier - find out more about sheep and goat identification requirements.

Pigs must have either a slapmark, an ear tag, or a tattoo with the herd mark of their holding - find out more about pig identification requirements.

Checking documentation

If you see any errors in the documentation for your incoming consignment you must:

If you’re the operator of the destination site, and it’s an EU-approved market or assembly centre, you must not admit any animal unless it has the right certification and complies with EU regulation.

Moving animal products and animal by-products (ABPs): current rules

You must have certain documents to move animal products and ABPs.

Paperwork you need to move animal products for human consumption

You can transport animal products intended for human consumption, like meat, dairy and eggs (known as Products of Animal Origin or POAO), without a health certificate, but they must be accompanied by a commercial document. However, if your consignment of POAO is under safeguard measures you must follow the same ITAHC process as for live animals

The commercial document should include details of the contents of the consignment, plus the name of the person who sent it and the person it’s being sent to.

If you’re sending the animal products, it’s your responsibility to complete the commercial document.

If you’re receiving them, the person who’s sending them to you must complete it.

If you place animal products on the market, they must come from an approved establishment.

Paperwork you need to move animal by-products (ABPs) not intended for human consumption

Most ABPs (animal products not intended for human consumption, for example pet food or untreated hides and skins) must be accompanied by a commercial document.

Contact APHA if you’re unsure whether you need a commercial document.

If you’re sending ABPs, it’s your responsibility to complete the commercial document.

If you’re receiving ABPs, the person who’s sending them to you must complete it.

The commercial document must accompany the consignment along with any other documentation required.

Find out more about labelling consignments of ABPs.

Authorisation requirements

All consignments of category 1 and category 2 material must be authorised before import or export.

Importer authorisation requirements

The Importer must complete the application form at Section 10 of Chapter III of Annex XVI of Regulation (EU) No 142/2011 and it to APHA or DAERA (Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs).

Exporter authorisation requirements

For exports the importer in the member state of the final destination must send the completed application form to the equivalent department of APHA or DAERA in the member state of final destination

You must not move any consignment until you receive your authorisation through the Trade Control and Expert System (TRACES).

Research and diagnostic samples must be authorised by the competent authority of the member state of destination before you import or export them.

You can find out up to date information on the authorisation you need in the importer information notes.

Notification using the TRACES system

You must use TRACES to notify that you’re importing these materials:

ABPs contacts

For exports contact AHPA or DAERA for information on using TRACES.

For imports contact the APHA or DAREA equivalent in the competent authority in the member state where the consignment is coming from.

Moving endangered species

There are more than 25,000 endangered species covered by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).

It covers plants and animals and their parts and derivatives.

If you’re moving an endangered species into Great Britain from an EU country, you may need to apply for a CITES permit.

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

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

Imports and exports

If you’re moving animals or animal products from Great Britain or the EU to a non-EU country, this is considered exporting - find out how you must export.

If you’re moving animals or animal products into Great Britain or the EU from a non-EU country, this is considered importing - find out how you must import.

Published 12 September 2014
Last updated 29 June 2020 + show all updates
  1. Section "Getting incoming live animals checked" explains that you now must notify APHA using the IPAFFS system.

  2. Updated links about how the rules for moving animals and animal products will change if there’s a no-deal Brexit. Removed information about exporting horses and ponies after Brexit. This is covered on the page about preparing to export after Brexit, which is linked to.

  3. Removed information about horses and ponies because this is in

  4. Added information for exporters about how to get an export health certificate if the UK leaves the EU without a deal.

  5. Amended guidance on moving horses and ponies to the Republic of Ireland

  6. AHVLA documents have been re-assigned to the new Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA).

  7. First published.

  1. Step 1 Apply for operator licences and permits

    1. Check if you need a vehicle operator licence
    2. Apply for a vehicle operator licence

    You will need other licences and permits, depending on the countries you're driving to or through.

    1. Check which licences and permits you need

    Your vehicle must pass a specialist test before you can transport dangerous goods (ADR test).

    1. Book a specialist vehicle test
  2. Step 2 Make sure your driver is eligible to drive abroad

  3. Step 3 Check the rules for the goods you're carrying

    1. Find out what you need to do if you're exporting your own goods

    There are rules for transporting certain goods. Your driver may need to follow set routes or stop at specific check points if you’re transporting mixed loads or specific types of goods. Check the rules for:

    1. Find out what you need to apply for if you’re moving goods temporarily out of the UK

    If you're transporting goods outside the EU they must have been cleared by customs (given ‘permission to progress’). The exporter can tell you if this has happened.

  4. Step 4 Make sure your driver has the right export documents

    Your driver will need copies of:

    • any export licences
    • the road consignment note (‘CMR note’)
    • the Movement Reference Number (MRN) from the export declaration - if you're moving goods out of the EU
    • the MRN and the Local Reference Number (LRN) - if you're moving goods under the Common Transit convention (CTC)
    • the ATA Carnet document - if you're moving goods out of the EU temporarily
    • the TiR Carnet document - if you’re moving goods in a sealed load compartment with a seal number

    The exporter should be able to give all of these to you.

    You'll also need to have a customs seal approval certificate for the vehicle if you’re moving goods in a sealed load compartment. You'll get this when your vehicle passes the TiR test.

  5. Step 5 Find out what vehicle documents your driver needs to carry

  6. Step 6 Check local road rules

    1. Check the road rules for European countries on the AA website
    2. Check travel advice for countries outside Europe

    When you have your documents, insurance and any extra equipment you need, you can transport goods abroad.