For live animals and products of animal origin (POAO) to enter the UK, consignments must be accompanied by the appropriate documentation such as veterinary certificates issued by the official veterinarian in the country of origin or import licences. Commercial documents like invoices, packing lists and the Bill of Lading will also be requested.
POAO are goods containing material sourced from an animal, such as meat and dairy products, fish and shellfish, eggs, honey, fur, skin and semen. Other products such as hay and straw that might have come into contact with animals are also covered. Read more about products of animal origin.
Common Veterinary Entry Document (CVED)
In order for your consignment to clear Customs/enter the European Union (EU), you need to have a validated CVED. The certificate proves that the checks laid down in EU and UK law have been carried out and that the consignment may be released for free circulation. In the case of products not fit for human consumption it may also specify the address to which the goods must be delivered.
The CVED is used:
- to notify the Border Control Post (BCP) of the arrival of your consignment in advance of its arrival (Part 1 is completed by the declarant, or person responsible for the consignment)
- to notify the BCP of the arrival of live animals at least 24 hours ahead of their arrival
- to record the results of the BCP checks (Part 2 is completed by the official at the BIP)
- by the customs authority as proof that the consignment has been checked and to show the intended use of the consignment
You must keep the CVED for at least one year from the date of import, as a local authority can request it as proof of the goods' legal import.
You can submit the CVED manually or once registered to use it, electronically via the Trade Control and Expert System (TRACES).
TRACES is a web-based service through which you must apply for Intra Trade Animal Health Certificates (ITAHCs) for exporting and CVEDs for importing live animals, their products and germplasm. Read more about the export regulations for animals, animal products, fish, plants and plant products.
You must have the correct type of documentation for your POAO consignments to avoid fines, the costs of having your goods stored, re-transported or destroyed and/or the risk of legal proceedings.
HM Revenue & Customs will not release POAO consignments until they are satisfied that a CVED has been issued and inspection fees have been paid.
Do I need a veterinary certificate?
Not all products derived from animals require a health certificate from their country of origin or a CVED before they can move through customs and into free circulation. Imported wool, for instance, doesn't require a health certificate but does require a CVED. Highly processed foods such as chocolate products usually don't require a health certificate or a CVED when entering the UK.
Products containing both processed product of animal origin and products of plant origin are not always covered by the regulations. If you are in any doubt you should seek advice from Animal Health or the BCP of import before you order the consignment.
Check with the OVS/OFI at the port of entry you plan to use for clarification about your consignment classification to see if it requires a health certificate. If it does, these can be obtained from your supplier. Also, you must give the port notice of your consignment's arrival. To find out how to obtain the CVED see the page in this guide on veterinary certificates. In some cases your consignments will also require an import licence to enter the UK.
Emergency and short-term bans
When disease breaks out in a particular geographic area or country that creates a serious threat to animal or public health, Defra has the right and obligation to ban imports of affected live animals and/or their products, as appropriate, from the affected country or region. These declarations supersede the validity of CVEDs or import licences.