importing live animals and germinal products from the EU to Great Britain

A quick guide to importing live animals and germinal products from the EU to Great Britain


This guidance applies to businesses in Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales) importing or moving the following germinal products and live animals from the EU:

  • germinal products (semen, ova and embryos)
  • reptiles (lizards, snakes, turtles and crocodiles)
  • amphibians (except salamanders)
  • invertebrates (except bees, molluscs and crustaceans)
  • livestock – such as cows, sheep, goats, and pigs
  • equines (including equines from Norway)
  • poultry (including day-old chicks and hatching eggs)
  • captive-bred birds that are not pets, poultry or for research, display or conservation (for example, captive-bred birds imported commercially for sale in pet shops)
  • non-domestic ungulates – these are hooved animals and are not farm animals, such as llamas, alpacas, antelopes, camels, wild pigs, tapirs, rhinos, giraffes, elephants, hippos’

Step 1: Notify APHA about imports from the EU

You must notify the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) of imports of live animals and germinal products from the EU via the Import of Products, Animals, Food, and Feed System (IPAFFS).

This must be done at least one working day prior to the anticipated arrival of the animals or germinal products at the port of entry.

When you submit an import notification for an animal or product, you will receive a Unique Notification Number (UNN). This number will be formatted as IMP.GB.YYYY.1XXXXXX. You must present the UNN to the exporter or official veterinarian (OV), who will incorporate it into the health certificate for your animal or product and provide you with a copy.

Step 2: Check what documents you need

The majority of EU imports of live animals and germinal products must be accompanied by a health certificate. If your goods do not have a health certificate, you may be required to get an import licence or commercial document. Equines imported to the United Kingdom from the European Union, Norway, or Northern Ireland must have a current horse passport.

We will look closely at each of the documents. 

  • Health Certificates: The EU exporter must:
    • Apply for the health certificate in their home country – competent authorities should create versions of health certificates that exporters can apply for.
    • Send the original health certificate with the cargo, and provide you with an electronic copy.
  • Import Licence: If no health certificate exists for the animal or germinal product you wish to import from the EU, you may be required to get an import licence or authorization. You may need both an import licence and a health certificate in some instances.
  • Commercial Document: A commercial document must contain the following:
    • The contents of the consignment, including the species and number of animals, if applicable; the sender’s name; the recipient’s name; and the address of the origin and destination premises.
    • Additionally, they must submit an exporter declaration certifying that the animals are fit for commercial trade travel.
    • With consignments of the following live animals and their germinal products, the exporter must submit a commercial document, an invoice, and a packing list:
      • Amphibians reptiles (except salamanders)
      • Vermiform (except bees, molluscs and crustaceans)


Step 3: Checks on imports of live animals and germinal products from the EU

Your live animal or germinal product may be subjected to document, identity, and physical checks at the point of destination, including tests. Biosecurity and public health threats will dictate the scope of checks.

From July 2022, all live animal imports into the United Kingdom via a BCP will be subject to document, identity, and physical checks. Live animal imports that enter the United Kingdom without a BCP will be subject to a document check and may also be subject to identity and physical checks at the point of delivery.

From 1 July 2022, germinal products must enter the United Kingdom at a designated entry point equipped with the necessary BCPs for document, identity, and physical checks. From 1 July 2022, the number of physical and identity checks will depend on biosecurity and public health hazards.

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