Products of animal origin - international trade regulations

Specific licensing requirements for products of animal origin

For some types of goods, you will need to follow different or additional procedures, which are specific to the type of product of animal origin (POAO) you are importing.

Domestic licensing

If you are acquiring POAO in the UK that are not covered by European Union (EU)-wide legislation, you will need a domestically issued licence. Many POAO not covered by EU-wide regulations can be imported using general licences (GL) or general authorisations (GA) issued by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA). GL/GAs are freely published documents. However, it's essential that you check your products are covered by GL/GAs and that you fully understand the terms and conditions of any GL/GAs you use.

If your goods are not covered by either EU legislation or a GL/GA issued by DAERA, you will need to apply to Defra for a specific licence. Applications for licences are assessed using a risk-based approach based on factors such as the type of product, the health status of the animal from which the product is derived, the health status of the country of origin and the purpose for which the material is being imported. You should do this in advance of shipping the goods in order to avoid them being rejected.

New 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).

Licenses are also available for the importation of POAO for research, education, diagnostic or museum purposes.

Common Agricultural Policy licences

If your POAO are covered by the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), you will also need to ensure that you are complying with the relevant CAP conditions, including CAP licences, as well as import and export refunds and levies.

CAP licences are issued by the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) and enforced by HM Revenue & Customs. Regulations change frequently. To check if your goods need a licence call the Rural Payments Agency Helpline on Tel 03000 200 301. Read more about preparing to trade in CAP goods.

Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species

If your POAO are covered by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), you may also need to ensure that you are complying with the CITES rules and you may need to have a CITES licence before you dispatch the goods. Offences relating to species covered by CITES have high penalties.

CITES licences are issued by Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency and enforced by HMRC. To check if your goods need a licence call the CITES Licensing Team on Tel 03000 200 301 or email them at Read more about enforcing CITES controls.