- 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:
- 18 September 2015, see all updates
The countries that are part of EU trade, the certification you need, getting consignments checked, and how horses and ponies must be moved.
Countries and animals covered by EU trade
If you’re moving the following animals or animal products within the EU, or Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Iceland, this is considered EU trade:
- sheep and goats
- poultry and hatching eggs
- germplasm (semen, ova and embryos of cattle, sheep, pigs and goats)
- rabbits and hares
- cats, dogs and ferrets
- non-domestic ungulates (camelids, alpacas, llamas, non-domestic bovines, deer, pronghorns)
Moving live animals
When you need an 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).
If you’re bringing the animals into Great Britain, you must make sure the person you’re importing the goods from has arranged the ITAHC in their own country.
The importer is also legally required to send an Importer notification form (MS Word Document, 123KB) to APHA. This must be sent at least 24 hours before it is due to arrive into Great Britain.
Your consignment won’t get into Great Britain without an ITAHC.
If you’re moving live animals from 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 official veterinarian (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 Specialist 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 the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) to apply for a new ITAHC.
Getting an existing ITAHC issued
You can get an existing ITAHC reissued by using the EU’s Trade Control and Expert System (TRACES), an online tool.
There are 3 ways to create an ITAHC using TRACES.
You can register to get your own TRACES log-on and fill in the details of your consignment
You then must tell APHA that the ITAHC has been created and give them details of who your official veterinarian is.
You can assign the certificate to your official veterinarian, while it is being created in TRACES.
Contact APHA for more details.
Moving horses and ponies
When you need an export welfare declaration
If you’re moving horses and ponies in or outside of the EU, you must print and complete an export welfare declaration form for your consignment, unless you have an exemption from the Secretary of State.
If you’re moving horses and ponies that are shorter than 147cm (14.2 hands) to the Republic of Ireland, you must have an export declaration.
You must make sure the pilot of the aircraft or master of the vessel that’s carrying your consignment has a copy of the export welfare declaration.
When you don’t need an export welfare declaration
You don’t need an export declaration if you’re moving:
- horses or ponies from Great Britain to Northern Ireland, the Channel Islands, or the Isle of Man
- horses or ponies taller than 147cm (14.2 hands) - those smaller than 147cm must have an export declaration and a fitness to travel inspection
- horses by direct flight to countries outside of Europe
- Tripartite Agreement (TPA) horses between the UK and France - if accompanied by a passport and a Commercial Document (DOCOM)
Thoroughbred horses don’t need an export declaration if a steward or secretary of the Jockey Club certifies that:
- they arrived in Great Britain no more than one month before the date of shipment for the purpose of being in a race
- they’re being shipped for a race or for training
- they’re being shipped to be used for breeding
The Tripartite Agreement (TPA)
The Tripartite Agreement (TPA) allows special conditions for moving horses between France, the UK and the Republic of Ireland.
TPA for horse movement between the UK and Republic of Ireland
Under the TPA, horses and donkeys can move freely between the UK and Republic of Ireland unless they are destined for slaughter.
You must make sure each horse travels with its horse passport. You don’t need an ITAHC but you must comply with welfare legislation.
Horses smaller than 147cm (142 hands) must have an export declaration and a fitness to travel inspection.
TPA for horse movement between the UK and France
You can move the following types of horse freely between the UK and France, once they are accompanied by a passport and a Commercial Document (DOCOM):
- thoroughbreds used for racing, breeding, training or that are moving to be sold
- French registered Autre Que Pur Sang (AQPS) horses (a type of non-thoroughbred horse)
- sports horses competing in Federation Equestre Internationale (FEI) sponsored events
- horses registered on the Weatherby’s non-thoroughbreds register
You can get the DOCOM you need through one of these approved TPA bodies:
- Weatherbys- for thoroughbreds and horses on the Weatherby’s non-thoroughbreds register
- British Equestrian Federation - for FEI horses
- British Horseracing Authority - for racehorses
Getting incoming live animals checked
If you’re bringing live animals or into Great Britain from the EU, you must get your consignment checked by an APHA inspector.
Paperwork you need
You must send written notification of your consignment to the APHA office that’s closest to the destination, 24 hours before it arrives.
This must include:
- the name, address and phone number of the destination
- the expected date and time of arrival at the destination
- the number of animals, their breed, their sex, their passport number (if applicable) or their identification
- the name and address of the place the animals came from
- the date
- the signature of the person responsible for the consignment
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
The animals must be taken directly to the place of destination that you’ve named on the health certificate.
You must rest livestock (except for registered horses) for 48 hours before moving them again.
Checking animal identification
You should check that all animals have the right 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.
You must cross-check any containers holding animals that can’t be individually marked (eg bees or day-old chicks) to make sure they’re accounted for on the health certificate.
If there are any errors in the documentation for your incoming consignment, eg unidentified animals, you must:
- contact APHA immediately
- isolate the relevant animal until APHA has authorised its release
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)
Paperwork you need to move animal products
You can transport animal products that are intended for human consumption, like meat, dairy and eggs, without a health certificate, but they must be accompanied by a commercial document.
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)
Most ABPs (animal products not intended for human consumption, eg carcasses or blood) must be accompanied by a commercial document.
Contact APHA if you are 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.
Some shipments of ABPs must be authorised by the competent authority in the destination country before you can transport them there.
You can find out up to date info on the authorisation you need in the importer information notes.
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 animal 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.
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
Updated: 18 September 2015
- Amended guidance on moving horses and ponies to the Republic of Ireland
- AHVLA documents have been re-assigned to the new Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA).
- First published.