Register a travelling circus or animal act to travel in the EU

How to register: book a vet visit, get animal passports and health certificates.

This guidance was withdrawn on

This guidance no longer applies to the UK since leaving the EU. Read about live animal exports:

Applies to England and Wales

If you want to move circus animals or an animal act between EU countries you need to register the circus and the animals with the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA).

This applies to the following animals if kept mainly for exhibition or entertainment:

  • all mammals (including bats)
  • birds
  • bees
  • salmon
  • trout

You must:

  • register the circus and animals
  • get passports for all animals in the circus or act
  • get an intra trade animal health certificate (ITAHC) before you travel
  • keep animals registered as part of the circus away from unregistered animals
  • put animals susceptible to rabies into quarantine when they enter the UK – see rules for domestic animals. For other species contact the APHA import team)

You must take the following documents with you when you travel:

  • passports
  • health certificate
  • venue register

If your travelling circus has wild animals, you also need to get a licence.

It’s an offence to travel with circus animals without registering – you can be prosecuted and fined up to £5,000.

When you don’t need to register

You don’t need to register:

  • any other species (including reptiles)
  • if animals aren’t kept primarily for entertainment or exhibition, such as:
    • pets
    • farm animals
    • zoo animals
  • when moving circuses or animal acts within Great Britain, Northern Ireland, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man
  • when moving circuses or animal acts into or out of non-EU countries

Register your circus to travel to EU countries

If you want to take your circus or animal act to EU countries outside the UK the circus and the animals need to be registered with APHA.

Your application must be received at least 40 working days before travel.

All tests and vaccinations must be up to date before your circus can be registered.

The application process is:

  1. Read the guide to registering a circus or animal act to travel in the EU, then complete and submit the form to register the animal, and include the £93 registration fee and passport fees.
  2. Choose an approved Official Veterinarian (OV) to carry out a registration visit. Ask the OV to confirm the cost for this. (To find an OV contact the OV appointments and training team – see contacts).
  3. The registration document, unique registration number and animal passports are sent to your OV.
  4. When the OV inspects the premises they: * check that animals included in the registration don’t have contact with other animals * check that animals have been tested and vaccinated if needed * complete the venue register * complete the passports
  5. The OV stamps and signs the registration document to approve your application.
  6. The OV gives you the passports, registration document and a unique registration number for your circus or animal act, verifying details of: * all the animals in the circus or animal act (register of animals) * all the countries the circus visits in the EU (venue register).
  7. The OV confirms whether the registration is granted. This is confirmed in a letter from the Centre for International Trade - Carlisle.

Register a circus based outside the UK

If the circus is based outside the UK you need to register in your country of residence.

Conditions of registration

Once your circus is registered you must:

  • keep the registration document for at least 5 years
  • make sure the information in it is up to date
  • make sure all animals in the circus or act have up to date passports
  • keep new circus animals separate from registered animals until they have passports and are on the register

You must apply for health certificates at least 10 working days before you travel.

Get animal passports

You must have passports for all animals in your travelling circus or animal act. These are completed and issued by your OV when you register your circus to travel.

Animal passports cost:

  • £2 for each individual circus animal (dogs, cats, ferrets and horses need special passports)
  • £2 for a group of birds or rodents (maximum of 15 ringed or microchipped birds or rodents per group, no limit on the number without rings or microchips)

You need a separate passport for each species and breed.

If you get new circus animals after you’ve registered, you need to contact the live animals team to arrange another OV visit.

Get an intra trade animal health certificate (ATAHC)

You need to apply for an ITAHC at least 10 days before travelling.

You must:

  1. Apply to APHA for an Intra Trade Animal Health Certificate (ITAHC) (See the guide to applying for a health certificate)
  2. APHA sends the health certificate to your OV to complete.
  3. Your OV visits you and certifies: * the health certificate * the venue register (list of countries you’re visiting)
  4. At least 48 hours before you travel you must send the consignor confirmation form (this is given to you by your OV) to APHA to confirm that all animals in the health certificate are travelling.

If the OV can’t verify any information you may need to give a statement verifying that information is correct (an owner’s declaration). Your OV will help you do this.

Get a health certificate for circus animals resident in other EU countries

If the circus animals are resident in another EU country, you must apply for an animal health certificate to the authorities in that country.


APHA Live Animals Export Team at the APHA Centre for International Trade Carlisle

APHA OV Team at the APHA Customer Service Centre Worcester or email

APHA Imports Team at the APHA Centre for International Trade Carlisle

Published 15 September 2014
Last updated 1 October 2014 + show all updates
  1. AHVLA documents have been re-assigned to the new Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA).

  2. First published.