Customs clearance for animals and animal products

What TRACES does

If you trade internationally in animals or certain animal products, the documentation you need to submit is processed through TRACES.

Important: If the UK leaves the EU with no deal, you will no longer be able to use TRACES. You will need to follow a different process to import and export animals and animal products to and from the EU.

Read the latest UK government guidance on importing and exporting live animals or animal products.

European Union (EU) documentation processed through TRACES

If you buy certain animal products, live animals or germplasm from within the EU or trade in them with another EU country, you need a health certificate signed by a government-approved Official Veterinarian or, for some animal products, commercial documentation. The health certificates, known as Intra Trade Animal Health Certificates (ITAHCs), are issued by your local Divisional Veterinary Office (DVO).

Importers may also need a Common Veterinary Entry Document (CVED), which gives a veterinary assessment of live animals or products. Read more about overseas veterinary certificates and Border Inspection Posts.

For trade with another EU member state, you or your agent must provide details of the consignment to your local DVO. Animal Health - which is an agency of the Department of Agriculture, Environment & Rural Affairs - provides details of the veterinary assessment on the consignment and creates the certificate. Imports are notified through TRACES and details of the ITAHC are also entered on the system.

Non-EU documentation processed through TRACES

If you trade in animals or certain animal products from outside the EU, you will need to notify the Border Control Post (BCP) by completing documentation on the TRACES system. Certain non-EU countries including Switzerland, Chile and New Zealand access health certificates for import into the EU and submit them electronically through TRACES.

Animals and animal products cleared through TRACES

The system covers several types of animal and animal product, including:

  • germplasm, eg semen, ova and embryos of cattle, sheep, pigs, goats and horses
  • types of poultry, eg hatching eggs, day-old chicks, poultry for re-stocking game supplies and birds for breeding, production and slaughter
  • live animals, eg horses, cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, parrots, hares and certain species of non-domestic ungulates
  • primates
  • carnivores, eg dogs and cats (excluding accompanied PETS-compliant animals)

If you import products of animal origin from outside the EU, you must notify the BIP that goods are arriving. This is achieved by completing part I of a CVED on TRACES. When you complete and submit this document online, you will be issued a unique CVED reference number. You will need to provide this number to customs authorities to demonstrate that you have notified the BIP and to allow subsequent release.

Exports to non-EU member states (and some exports to Switzerland and Norway) are processed through a different system called CENTAUR (Certification of Exports, Notification of Trade and Assessment of Underlying Risk), but all enquiries and applications to export should be directed to the DVO.

TRACES is not yet able to handle health certification issued by countries outside the EU. You will need to submit these documents in hard-copy form to the BCP.

Note: if for any reason you are unable to notify the BCP of the arrival of the goods using TRACES, you must send a copy of a completed CVED, part I, to the BCP. Failure to pre-notify the BCP of the arrival of the goods may result in the goods being rejected for import. If the goods are rejected, you will have to have them destroyed or returned to the country of origin at your own expense.