Products of animal origin - international trade regulations

Importing products of animal origin

To import products of animal origin (POAO) from third countries, you must check your supplier is approved and pre-notify the Border Inspection Post (BIP) at the port where the goods are expected to arrive.

Download a guide to European Union (EU) import conditions for fresh meat and meat products (PDF, 289K).

Pre-shipping checks

All POAO entering the EU must come from countries that have been approved and meet EU-wide product specific standards. These are certified by 'competent authorities' - usually government departments or agencies - in the originating country. Within the approved country, suppliers of some POAO, such as meat, also need to be approved for EU trade. However, suppliers of other products, such as eggs, do not need approval.

You should ensure that the consignment can meet all the public and animal health rules for import. Rules do change frequently, for example during an outbreak of a serious animal disease, like foot and mouth disease or highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI), products may be restricted or banned at short notice, such as the HPAI outbreak in Southeast Asia. The country should have an approved residue plan and should not be subject to any restrictions for animal diseases or other health risks.

Find approved establishments outside the EU for POAO.

As an importer, you have a number of legal responsibilities. These include the safety and traceability of your goods, prevention of disease and the withdrawal of products where necessary.

You should also ensure that your health certificates are ready for presentation with the correct support documentation, at the right point in time to the authorities. See import checks on products of animal origin.

Rules apply to the import of animal by-products (ABPs) and import of POAO for research, medical or museum purposes from third countries. Rules now include imports of ABPs for research and diagnostic samples, trade samples (eg for machine testing) and display items (eg for artistic activities).

Get your goods to the point of import

You must import your third country POAO through appropriate BCPs where the environmental health officers and vets working in the BCP will check them. You must ensure the BCP you choose will accept your goods as not all BCPs accept every type of POAO.

You must pre-notify the BCP of an incoming consignment in advance. If you do not pre-notify the BCPs of incoming consignments, your goods may be rejected and you will have to re-export them or destroy them at your own expense.

You can make the notification in two ways. You can complete Part 1 of a Common Veterinary Entrance Document (CVED) which you can obtain from the port health authority managing the appropriate BIP. Alternatively, you can use the online Trade Control and Expert System (TRACES) service to complete Part 1 of the CVED. Find out more about using TRACES to trade in animal and animal products.

You can do this yourself or use an agent, such as a freight forwarder. Read more about choosing and managing a freight forwarder.

Contractual considerations

Once your goods arrive at the BCP, they will be subject to checks before they can be released.

It's essential that you take into account the possibility of goods being rejected at the border when drawing up contracts with your suppliers. POAO are often perishable, so if they're rejected at the border the goods may have to be destroyed. It's a good idea to clarify in writing who in your supply chain is responsible for ensuring the paperwork is completed on time, as well as to work closely with your suppliers to minimise the risks of rejection, and ensure you don't have to pay for rejected goods.

Import requirements change frequently - you may find more of your products need a licence than previously.