Export live animals

What certificates you need to export live animals from the UK, and what you’ll need to do in a no-deal Brexit.

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The UK will leave the EU on 31 October. This page tells you what to do if there’s a no-deal Brexit. It will be updated if anything changes, including if a deal is agreed.

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What you’ll need to do in a no-deal Brexit

You may need to apply for an export health certificate (EHC). Find out more about what you’ll need to do to export animals if there’s a no-deal Brexit.

There are separate rules for:

Within the EU: current rules

To move animals within the EU, you must:

Apply for an ITAHC

  1. Nominate an official vet to inspect your animals. To find one, ask at your local vet or email ovteam@apha.gov.uk.
  2. Register with the Trade Control and Expert System (TRACES) system if you’ve not used it before.
  3. Sign in to TRACES and fill in the details of the live animals you’re exporting.
  4. Contact the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) or Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) in Northern Ireland. Tell them that the ITAHC has been created and give them details of your official vet.
  5. APHA will send your EHC to your official vet within 7 working days of the date of export, or within one working day of receipt if you plan to export in the next 7 working days. If your official vet doesn’t receive the certificate, contact the APHA Centre for International Trade Carlisle.
  6. Include the certificate when you export your consignment.

Instead of using TRACES, you can complete Application for Veterinary Health Certification (EXA31) (PDF, 829KB, 7 pages) using the guidance notes (PDF, 104KB, 6 pages) to help you. Send the completed form to the APHA Centre for International Trade Carlisle.

Your ITAHC will be valid for 10 days after the inspection. There’s no fee for the certificate, but your vet will charge you for their time.

If there isn’t an ITAHC for your species of animal, contact APHA (or DAERA in Northern Ireland).

Check if your animal holding needs to be registered or approved

As well as an ITAHC, you must register your holding or get it approved before you can move certain animals in the EU. Your holding is the place you keep your animals in the UK.

You must register your holding to move:

  • hoofed animals (ungulates) that aren’t livestock
  • birds that aren’t commercial poultry
  • rabbits and hares
  • dogs, cats and ferrets that do not meet the usual rules for pet travel (for example rescue animals being rehomed abroad)

You must get your holding approved to move:

  • any animal to another approved holding
  • carnivores or primates, for example monkeys, apes, lemurs
  • semen or embryos

You do not need to register or get approval to move other types of animal.

There’s a different process for animal holdings in Northern Ireland – contact your local DAERA office.

Apply to register your holding

Complete the Application from the Owner or Manager of a Premises for Registration (form EC3163) (PDF, 62KB, 3 pages) . Send it to the APHA Centre for International Trade Carlisle.

You’ll get a registration number to use on your export health certificates.

You must get your holding approved before you can move animals to an approved holding.

Apply to get your holding approved

Complete Application of an Establishment for Approval (form EC3164) (PDF, 66.8KB, 3 pages) .

If you’re in England, send it to the APHA Centre for International Trade Carlisle.

If you’re in Scotland or Wales, send it to the Veterinary Lead Scotland or Veterinary Lead Wales at your local APHA office. To find these, contact APHA.

Form EC3164 is also available in Welsh (Cymraeg) (PDF, 116KB, 3 pages) .

An inspector will arrange a visit to your holding to check that it has:

  • walls, fences or other barriers separating it from the surrounding area
  • equipment, facilities and staff to catch, confine and isolate animals
  • quarantine facilities to isolate and test animals from non-approved holdings
  • a surveillance programme for incoming animals agreed with your vet
  • a clean and separated facility for carrying out post-mortems
  • a system for disposing of carcasses agreed with your vet

You also must make sure you:

  • keep records of animals’ age, sex, species, blood tests and diseases
  • employ an official vet – you can find one by asking at your local vet, or by emailing ovteam@apha.gov.uk

Once your holding is approved

Contact APHA to move animals from your holding. You’ll get an approval number to use on your export health certificates.

Your holding must be inspected annually. You’ll normally be contacted by an APHA vet, but it’s your responsibility to make sure that the inspection takes place.

Your approval will be suspended if your holding breaks any of the approval conditions or if the APHA vet finds:

  • any notifiable disease
  • viral enteritis or aleutian disease in mink
  • tuberculosis in apes and non-domestic cats
  • European foulbrood, varroasis or acariasis in bees
  • myxomatosis, viral haemorraghic disease, tularaemia in rabbits and hares

You’ll be given time to fix the problem, but the APHA vet can withdraw your approval if you do not.

Outside the EU: current rules

You will usually need to complete an export health certificate (EHC) and some supporting documents to export a live animal.

There are some types of live animals you cannot export, and cases where you do not need a certificate. If you cannot find the EHC you need, contact APHA.

The EHC is an official document that confirms your export meets the health requirements of the destination country.

An official vet or inspector will check that your export meets the health requirements of the destination country. They’ll complete and sign the certificate, and give it to you.

Find out how to apply for an EHC and download the forms.

Use the most up-to-date EHC

EHCs are sometimes updated when export agreements are changed so make sure you are using the latest version of a certificate. The EHC form finder will always have the latest version.

Out of date forms will be rejected and cause delays to your exports.

You can sign up for alerts by subscribing to the feed on the EHC form finder. You’ll then get an email when a form is updated.

Transporting animals

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

Endangered animals

Find out how to import or export endangered animals.

You should also check what you need to when trading and moving endangered animals if there’s a no-deal Brexit.


Within the EU, you must register the circus and its animals if you take them outside the UK. The rules also apply to any birds, bees, salmon or trout kept for exhibition or entertainment.

Outside the EU, you do not need to register your circus or its animals. You also do not need to register circuses within the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man.

You need a licence for wild animals, even if your circus stays within the UK.

Get a licence for a travelling circus with wild animals.

Find out how to register a travelling circus or animal act to travel in the EU.

Regular exports for public exhibition

If you regularly take endangered circus animals abroad, you could complete travelling exhibition certificate (form FED0173) (PDF, 64.4KB, 2 pages) instead of a CITES permit or Article 10 certificate.

You can use the certificate within or outside the EU. It’s valid for 3 years and means you do not need to apply for permission each time.

Email or post the completed form to the APHA Centre for International Trade Bristol.

The fee is £74 and APHA aims to process your application in 15 working days.

Published 9 November 2016
Last updated 30 August 2019

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