Animal imports and exports: guidance

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

EU exports

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

Exporters wanting to export live animals, animal products or germplasm to an EU Member State will need some form of documentation in the form of health certification signed by a government approved 'Official Veterinarian', or, in the case of some animal products, commercial documentation. You can get application forms from the Animal & Plant Health Agency (APHA), or contact the agency's International Trade Centre for exports.

The UK government has information on specific animals.

Non-EU exports

Animals or animal products can be exported to third countries - those outside the EU - if the destination country has agreed an export health certificate with the UK. Other documents may be required by the importing country, and it is the exporter's responsibility to find out what these are and comply with the import regulations of the destination country.

Before exporting to non-EU countries, you should:

  • check whether a suitable export health certificate is available
  • contact APHA central operations for exports department if you have any routine queries on export controls and procedures
  • contact the destination country's veterinary authorities to find out about import conditions
  • discuss the exports with your veterinarian
  • check animal movement licence requirements
  • confirm animal welfare requirements
  • check Convention on International Endangered Species requirements
  • check marketing rules
  • check the requirements of the ferry or airline company
  • confirm HM Revenue & Customs procedures


A list of export health certificates is available on the UK government website.

Charges for APHA services

The Animal & Plant Health Agency (APHA) deliver a wide range of statutory inspection and certification services for businesses and individuals which support consumer confidence and facilitate the ability to trade. These statutory charges have been updated to align with government policy requiring that services of commercial benefit should be charged at full-cost recovery rate. The new fees come into force on the 24 June 2013

Beef and cattle exports

Export restrictions/controls were originally imposed on the UK by Commission Decision 96/239/EC of 27 March 1996 and later extended by Council Decision 98/256/EC of 16 March 1998. On 8 March 2006, EU Member States in the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health unanimously approved a proposal for a new piece of EU legislation to lift the ban on the export of cattle and to relax the restrictions on the export of beef and certain other bovine products from the EU. The new legislation was published in the EU Official Journey on 29 April 2006 as Commission Regulation (EC) No 657/2006 and came into force in the EU on 2 May.

Commission Regulation (EC) No 657/2006 was implemented in Scotland by the Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies (Scotland) Regulations 2006 (SSI 2006 No 530) on 24 November 2006. This has now been consolidated into The Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies (Scotland) Regulations 2010. Equivalent legislation exists in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

As of 3 May 2006, it is possible to legally export live cattle, beef and other previously restricted bovine products from the UK in line with other countries in the EU.

These regulations still impose some minor export restrictions on the UK. The following commodities cannot be exported from the UK to any other country:

  • bovine animals born or reared in the United Kingdom before 1 August 1996
  • meat or products derived from bovine animals born or reared in the United Kingdom after 31 July 1996 and slaughtered before 15 June 2005
  • vertebral column from bovine animals born or reared in the United Kingdom after 31 July 1996 and slaughtered before 2 May 2006 and products derived from such vertebral column.

The following commodities cannot be exported from the UK to any other country outside the EU:

  • heads or fresh meat of bovine, ovine or caprine animals containing specified risk material


Tel: 0300 244 9874

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

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