ARCHIVE: International trade: Guidance for imports of animal derived products for research, education, diagnostic or museum purposes
The purpose of this guidance is to advise stakeholders how and when to use Licences and Authorisations for the importation of scientific specimens.
The importation into the UK or EU of animal products can pose a human or animal health risk and therefore needs to be controlled. Licences and Authorisations are a way of doing this. We assess applications for these 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, any processing of the product (e.g. heat treatment ) and the bio security arrangements at the destination laboratory.
The checklist below provides a guide as to when you can import animal products under the Research Licensing Regime. You should note that products imported under this regime either from an EU or Third (non EU) country, must take place under a licence or authorisation.
Licences and authorisations may be general or specific. For certain products that are considered to be negligible risk, General Licences/Authorisations are available on our website. Specific Licences are for products that carry a non-negligible risk. They are issued to a named importer and only that importer can use it.
Can you import an animal product under the Research Licensing Regime?
- If the material is intended for educational, diagnostic, research or museum purposes as appropriate.
- If the material will not come into contact with any ruminating animals, swine, poultry, or horses, or bees in the case of apiculture products.
- If on completion of the intended research residues of the material and the remainder of the packaging is disposed of by one of the following methods.
- incineration at an approved premises/establishment. General guidance on disposal of animal by-products can be found at
- Provided that the products are NOT derived from animals known or suspected to be infected with a pathogen that may cause a disease in ruminating animals, swine, horses and poultry.
- If the products originate from animals in a premises or region or zone of a country that is NOT subject to official restrictions due to a notifiable disease to which the animals are susceptible according to European or other national animal health legislation
- If you intend to supply the material to a third party as a commercial transaction (this includes material that you wish to store and supply/sell to third parties for them to carry out research).
- If the material is likely to come into contact with any ruminating animals, swine, poultry or horses, or bees in the case of apiculture products.
- If you wish to import live animals including insects.
- If the product contains a specified animal pathogen or other animal pathogen under IAPO.
- If you cannot meet the conditions on the licence/authorisation.
- If the material is for in vivo use (although there may be some exceptions)
The Research Licensing Regime provides licences and authorisations for organisations and individuals to import scientific specimens comprising animal derived material for research, diagnostic, education or museum purposes. The type of research can vary and may include, for example, a pharmaceutical company developing a medicine, a food manufacturer doing quality testing or a university student carrying out research as part of their studies. At the end of the research/study, the material must be either destroyed or re-exported to a Third country.
Material imported under this regime cannot be used for commercial purposes. For instance, if you wish to import material to store and supply to a third party for them to carry out research, this must be done under commercial import rules.
The Research Licensing Regime provides general licences/authorisations which you can download from the Defra website. If the product is landing in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland, you will need to contact the relevant Department for advice. If you need to apply for a specific licence/authorisation or if you have any queries about the use of specific or general licences/authorisations please contact us .
If you wish to import an animal pathogen or pathogen carrier you need to contact the Pathogens team as these products cannot be imported under the Research Licensing Regime.
If you need to use a specific licence/authorisation, you must apply to the relevant department and receive it before the material is shipped. Import conditions may vary depending on the material being imported and the risk that it may present. The sender/supplier may need to provide certain documentation with the consignment. You must therefore apply as early as possible before the proposed date of import. Applications for licences and authorisations are assessed on a risk basis and there is no guarantee that one will be issued.
Licences and authorisations are issued for at least one month but can be valid for up to two years.They are usually valid for multiple consignments so you can import as much as you want whilst it is valid, but each consignment must not exceed the weight limit specified.
- Guidance for students (PDF 20 KB)
Page last modified:
October 14, 2010
Page published: February 25, 2010