Animal imports and exports: guidance

This guidance applies only to import and export of farm animals and domesticated animals.


This guidance is currently under review and may not reflect the current position (May 2021).

Commission Regulation 1739/2005 applies to the movement of circus animals and animal acts between European Union (EU) Member States. The Regulation was introduced to make travelling between EU Member States for circuses with animals and animal acts more straight forward by having one uniform set of rules rather than having differing rules in each Member State. Animal & Plant Health Agency (APHA) is responsible for administering the conditions of this Regulation in on behalf of the Scottish Government and the Scottish Ministers.

The Regulation applies to animals whose primary purpose is for public exhibition and entertainment. The species covered are all mammals (including bats), birds, bees, salmon and trout.

This Regulation has been introduced into Scottish law through the Animals and Animal Products (Import and Export) (Scotland) Regulations 2007 which came into force on 2 April 2007. Similar changes were made to the legislation in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

If a circus or animal act meets the criteria described above, the Commission Regulation 1739/2005 requires that:

  • the circus or animal act is registered with the Competent Authority in the country in which it has its legal residence or in the Member State in which it is situated. Competent Authority in this context means the government body that has jurisdiction regarding the implementation of Commission Regulation 1739/2005. In Great Britain, this means being registered with AHVLA.
  • the documentation issued upon registration (a register booklet, containing a register of animals and a venue register) is kept up to date and held for a minimum of five years
  • animals in the circus or animal act have passports (except dogs, cats, horses & ferrets, who require passports but under other legislation)
  • animals in the circus/animal act are tested and vaccinated as per the requirements in the circus and animal act passports
  • animals registered as being part of the circus/animal act are kept away from unregistered animals
  • at least 10 working days prior to travel, the registered circus/animal act applies to the Competent Authority in which they are currently residing for an Intra Trade Animal Health Certificate. This will permit travel to another Member State.
  • at least 48 hours prior to any intended movement to another Member State, the circus/animal act informs the Competent Authority in the Member State of departure of their actual movement date. For GB resident circus/animal acts a form is provided for this purpose.


Tel: 0300 244 9874

Animal Health and Welfare,
P Spur
Saughton House,
Broomhouse Drive,
EH11 3XD

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