Importing live animals or animal products from non-EU countries

Getting the right licence, where you can import from, and the checks your consignment must pass at a border inspection post (BIP).

If the UK leaves the EU without a deal

After the UK leaves the EU, you’ll still be able to import animals and animal products from outside the EU. However, the process for notifying the UK authorities of these imports will change.

Find out what will and will not change if you’re importing to the UK from the guidance on importing animals, animal products and high-risk food and feed not of animal origin if the UK leaves the EU with no deal.

Commercial imports

Commercial imports of most animals and products of animal origin are covered by EU legislation.

Consignments should be accompanied by appropriate certification and must enter the EU through a border inspection post (BIP) where checks are carried out to ensure that import conditions have been met. In most cases, you do not need an import licence or authorisation.

Compliance with animal health and welfare controls does not remove the need to comply with other relevant legislation, including those relating to the control of trade in endangered species.

To satisfy yourself that you can comply with the trade, welfare and animal health rules, you may also wish to contact the APHA Centre for International Trade Carlisle for further guidance.

You should also check our topical issues page for current issues relating to imports and exports of animals and animal products.

If you wish to receive information on changes or updates to imports of animals and animal products rules via email, you should complete and return the request for information form.

Checking if you need a licence

Certain animals and products of animal origin including some that are covered by European Union regulations must have an import licence or authorisation to be imported into Great Britain.

General licences

Check the list of general licences that are available to see if the licence you need already exists.

If the general licence or authorisation you need exists, you do not have to apply, but you must make sure you follow the conditions in the published licence.

Some general licences must travel with the consignment – check your general licence to see if this is the case.

Specific licences

If the general licence you need does not exist, you must apply for a specific licence for that product using form IV58.

You should return the completed application form to:

Some animals, such as rodents, lagomorphs (hares, rabbits and pikas) and most exotic mammals, must have a specific licence – complete form RM01 for this licence.

Where you can import from

You can only bring live animals or animal products into the EU from countries on the EU’s approved list. The lists of approved countries is often included at the back of the EU regulations that govern movement.

Contact the APHA Centre for International Trade: Carlisle to find out which legislation applies.

Many animal products must come from establishments that are approved to export into the EU.

When you need a health certificate

If you’re importing live animals and animal products, you must make sure the exporter you’re working with gets the health certificate required by EU or national law.

You can contact the APHA Centre for International Trade Carlisle to find out when you need to do this.

When you need a commercial document

You may also need your consignment to be accompanied by a commercial document.

You can contact the APHA Centre for International Trade Carlisle to find out when you do.

The exporter should draw up the commercial document and should include amongst other things:

  • a description of what you’re importing
  • the names of the importer and the exporter

Getting imports checked at a BIP

Most consignments of animal and animal products must be checked at a BIP.

Finding out if your consignment must be checked

You can contact the APHA Centre for International Trade Carlisle to find out if your consignment must be checked.

Before the consignment arrives

It’s a legal requirement to tell the BIP about your consignment in advance – if you do not, you may be charged an additional fee or your checks could take longer.

For animals, you must complete part 1 of the common veterinary entry document (CVED) and return it to the BIP, 24 hours before your consignment is due to arrive.

For animal products, you must complete part 1 of the CVED and return it to the BIP before the consignment is unloaded.

You should contact the BIP you plan to use to discuss how you should notify them about your consignments. The BIP can also give you a blank CVED.

Find contact details for EU BIPs and for UK BIPs.

You must make sure original health certificates travel with all consignments. You cannot use a faxed or photocopied version.

Finding the right BIP

You must make sure the BIP you’re using is approved to check the animals or animal products in your shipment.

When your consignment arrives

When your consignment arrives, port operators may charge you to move it to the BIP.

Official veterinarians at the BIP will then check animal or animal product identity and documentation.

They may also carry out a physical check.

If your consignment passes the check, officials will give you a completed and validated CVED.


You must pay a fee to have your consignment checked at a BIP.

See the BIP fees table.

Contact the BIP you plan to use for information on the fee you’ll be charged, and fees for animal products.

Leaving the BIP

You must not remove your consignment from the BIP or customs clearance area until official veterinarians have completed and validated the CVED.

When your consignment leaves the BIP, you must make sure it goes directly to the destination named on the CVED.

You must make sure the CVED accompanies the consignment to this destination.

You must keep any livestock at the destination for at least 30 days after they arrive. In some cases the animals may have to stay at the premises for longer.

Personal imports

You can bring any fruit, vegetables, meat, fish, dairy or other animal products (for example, eggs, honey) into the UK if you’re travelling from a country in the EU.

You cannot bring meat, meat products, milk, dairy products or potatoes into the UK from most countries outside the EU.

Find out more about bringing food, animals or plants into the UK.

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 importing an endangered species into the EU, you may need to apply for a CITES permit before the import takes place.

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 when importing live animals

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

Contact APHA

Contact the APHA Centre for International Trade Carlisle.

Published 12 September 2014
Last updated 20 May 2019 
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