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Food Safety

Live animals: Trade & Imports

Brexit

Trade and Imports

Under the terms of the Treaty on the functioning of the EU, there is a clear difference between the definitions for trade and importation.

In relation to live animals:

  • Intra-Union trade or trade refers solely to the movement of animals between the EU countries.
  • Importation, or imports refers solely to the introduction of animals into the EU countries from non-EU countries

Live animals are traded or imported everyday in the European Union. In order that all these animals can be moved safely avoiding the transmission of diseases - to either the public or other animals - the EU has laid down a wide range of animal health requirements.

The general animal health requirements that are applicable to both imports and intra-Union trade are laid down in specific Council Directives.

Trade

Regarding intra-Union trade, the conditions for trade are harmonised between the EU countries. All live animals must travel with a health certificate validated by an official veterinarian specifying that the animals fulfil the basic animal health requirements as set out in the relevant Council Directives.

Further random checks on the animals may also be carried out at the final destination.

In addition to the general health requirements, in the event of a serious exotic disease outbreak within the EU countries, specific requirements for trade in certain live animals may also be laid down in order to prevent the spread of the disease.

Imports

For importation, additional animal health requirements are set out in specific Commission Decisions. These lay down health certificates which must accompany all animal imports. In general, these certificates must be signed by an official veterinarian of the competent authority of the exporting non-EU country guaranteeing that the conditions for import into the EU have been met.

On arrival in the EU, the animals and the accompanying certificates must be verified and checked by EU official veterinarians at a designated Border Control Post (BCP). Further checks on the animals may also be carried out at the final destination.

Related links

Further information

Approved establishments - veterinary

Intra-Community trade in certain live animals and their products is only permitted from establishments that comply with the relevant provisions of...

Bovine animals

The intra-Union trade rules for bovine animals solely govern the movement of bovine animals between the EU countries.

Equine animals

The number of equine animals or equidae in the European Union is small, probably not many more than 6 millions, compared to hundreds of millions of...

Other live animals

"Other live animals" include some ruminants, Camelids (e.g. llamas, alpacas), cats and dogs (for commercial imports only), bees, apes, rabbits and...

Ovine & Caprine animals

The intra-Union trade rules for ovine and caprine animals solely govern the movement of ovine and caprine animals between the EU countries.

Porcine animals

The intra-Union trade rules for porcine animals solely govern the movement of porcine animals between the EU countries.

Poultry and hatching eggs

The animal health requirements for intra-Community trade in live poultry and hatching eggs are laid down in Council Directive 2009/158/EC. This...