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British Bird Council

Advice On Importing Birds From

European Countries


Advice on bringing birds back from European Union Countries





In this day & age, many bird keepers are looking into obtaining birds bred in the EU Counties such as Belgium or Holland as often there are plenty of good birds available that may not be found so readily in the UK.

The law on bringing such birds back can be quite complicated when trying to read up on Defra websites etc, so we have published this page to hopefully clarify the regulations.


It is stressed that these statements apply to EU member countries and native European birds only.


The conditions you need to follow can be split into two categories:


Bringing "Pet" birds back.


An individual can import up to 5 birds for their own personal collection.


They must have been bred and correctly rung in accordance with the country of origin AND there must be a Health self-certificate from the owner.

The certificate must state that the birds, at the time of dispatch, show no obvious signs of disease and that the holding of origin was not subject to any animal health restrictions


It can be as simple a declaration as “ I have had this bird in my possession for 1 month and during that time it has shown no signs or symptoms of illness”  This of course must include the birds ring number(s), the breeders name and his address or the address of bird holding facility the bird has been kept at.


So you can simply go across on the ferry, go to a bird shop,  sale or breeder, buy up to 5 birds, be given the health declaration & bring them home.

It is advised that you take a "pr-forma" health statement with you (as per the declaration detailed above), so you can ask for it to be completed.



If there are 2 of you in a car, then that is 10 birds between you etc.


Trade Birds

More than 5 birds being imported from the EU countries is considered to be TRADE and this is somewhat more complicated if you are new to importing larger numbers of birds.


In order to bring these birds in, you need to comply with the following guidelines supplied by Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA):

They are reproduced exactly as sent to us from APHA. 


For the latest updates or any query on these, it is advised you contact your local APHA office.


Importer Information Note (IIN) on captive birds from other EU Member States, other specified European countries, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man into England (IIN/CBEU/1)


1. Scope


These notes explain the conditions which apply to imports of captive birds from other EU Member States, Andorra, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Norway, San Marino, Switzerland, the Vatican City State, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man into England.

“Captive bred birds” are defined as birds that have not been caught in the wild but have been born and bred in captivity from parents that mated or had gametes otherwise transferred in captivity.

This does not include:

  • Poultry (as detailed below);

  • Pigeons that are kept to produce eggs or meat for human consumption or for breeding for those purposes which would also fall into the poultry category; and

  • Pet birds, which are considered to be all species of birds (except poultry as detailed below) which are accompanying their owners or a natural person responsible for such animals on behalf of the owner during their movement and are not intended to be sold or transferred to another owner.

“Poultry” is defined in Council Directive 2009/158/EC as ‘fowls, turkeys, guinea fowl, ducks, geese, quails, pigeons, pheasants, partridges and ratites (Ratitae) reared or kept in captivity for breeding, the production of meat or eggs for consumption or for re-stocking supplies of game.’ These species are not permitted to be imported as “captive or pet birds”, but must instead meet the requirements laid down in EU law for imports of live poultry.

For guidance please see Importer Information Note PBEU/1 for pet birds and Importer Information Note PTEU/1 for live poultry.

  • Importer Information Note PBEU/1

  • Importer Information Note PTEU/1

Zoo birds vaccinated against Avian Influenza (AI) coming into the UK from Member States require an import licence.


Please contact APHA CIT Imports, Carlisle for further information or an application form.


“Psittacines” are members of the parrot group which includes budgies, lories, conures, parakeets, lovebirds, cockatiels, parrots and macaws. Psittacines can carry an infection called psittacosis which can cause severe flu-type symptoms in humans.

  • Further information on EU trade controls on live animals

2. Registration of premises


The premises of origin must be officially registered with the competent veterinary authority in the country of origin. The importer is responsible for arranging registration with the local animal health authorities. However, in the case of Jersey, different arrangements apply. For further details please see IMP/GEN/2011/07.


3. Health certification/documentation


(a) Where birds have been vaccinated against avian influenza they must be accompanied by the health certificate laid down in Annex E I of Council Directive 92/65/EC (as amended)

(b) Unvaccinated bird(s) must be accompanied by a commercial document/owner’s declaration confirming that they meet the requirements in accordance with article 7 of Council Directive 92/65/EEC (as amended). They must:

1.      come from a holding in which avian influenza has not been diagnosed in the 30 days prior to dispatch;

2.      come from a holding or area not covered by restrictions, due to an outbreak of Newcastle disease.

(c) Psittacines must be accompanied by a commercial document that is signed by an official veterinarian in the country of origin. The veterinarian must examine the bird(s) within 48 hours of export certifying that the birds do not come from, and have not been in contact with birds from, a holding on which psittacosis has been diagnosed in the past 2 months.


4. Identification & container for travel


All birds must be identified with an individual identification number, by means of a uniquely marked seamlessly closed leg-ring or a microchip, in accordance with Article 66(2) of Commission Regulation 865/2006.

ID numbers of leg-rings or microchips must bear at least the ISO code of the consigning country performing the identification and a unique serial number. The ID number must be registered on the accompanying health certificate, as well as on the outside of the container that the birds are being transported in.

All birds must be transported in new containers which must bear the unique ID number that corresponds with the ID number provided for on the accompanying document.

5. Endangered Species


The import of some species of animals may require export and import certificates under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). CITES permits must be issued in advance of import and they can take up to 6-8 weeks to process. Applicants should be aware of this when applying for their permits. Those species requiring CITES permits must be moved in compliance with CITES guidelines for the transport and preparation for shipment of live animals.

For further information please contact the APHA – Wildlife Licensing and Registration Service (WLRS)


6. Birds from an approved body, institute or centre moved to another Member State


All captive birds being moved from a body, institute or centre approved under Article 13 and Annex C of Council Directive 92/65/EEC to another approved body, institute or centre in another EU Member State must be accompanied by a health certificate under Annex E, Part 3 of the Directive.


7. In the case of Racing Pigeons


These birds are included within the definition of ‘captive birds’ therefore racing pigeons leaving the UK for another EU Member State must comply with the above requirements. The same requirements apply to pigeons that originate from another Member States that are imported to England.

  • UK – based racing pigeons that are moved to another EU Member State with the documentation described in point 2 may then be released to fly back home without any additional health certification.

  • If UK – based racing pigeons are moved to another Member State to participate in an event but are not released to fly home, the birds can be returned to England on the same documentation issued for their departure from England providing they return within 10 days. The owner of the birds should, however, notify CIT Import, Carlisle office responsible for the destination premises that the birds are to be returned by lorry, rather than being released to fly back.



8. Importer notification


Importers must notify their local Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) office of the intended import(s) at least 24 hours in advance of its arrival.

This can be a letter, fax or email stating their name and address, the address that the birds are being imported to (if different), the date and estimated time of arrival of the import(s), the number and type of birds, the address and country of origin and how the birds will be travelling. This is important for the purposes of disease risk monitoring.


9. Welfare of animals during transport


Importers are reminded that they must comply with rules on the welfare of animals during transport. For information on the rules see the Defra website.


10. Safeguard measures


Situations where emergency safeguard action has been taken at very short notice, to prohibit or restrict the importation of certain animals/products from certain countries following an outbreak of serious disease in those countries may not be covered. Importers are advised to contact the Animal and Plant Health Agency to check if any action has been taken in relation to the current status of any particular country. Details of safeguard measures can also be found in our Topical Issues page on the website.

Alternatively you can keep up to date with amendments to legislation by checking the European Commission’s website.


11. EU Legislation


Consolidated texts, which integrate the basic instruments of Union legislation with their amendments and corrections in a single, non-official document, are available. Each consolidated text contains a list of all legal documents taken into account for its construction.

Texts provided in this section are intended for information only. Please note that these texts have no legal value. For legal purposes please refer to the texts published in the ‘Official Journal of the European Union’.

For non-consolidated legislation, please use the simple search option on the European Commission’s website.


12. Contacts for other important advice and guidance


Importers should note that the information given relates only to animal health and public health import conditions. It does not give guidance on other conditions that may need to be met.

The information sheet below gives details of other organisations you may also need to consult.

  • Information sheet

Contact for general information


Import Team

Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA)



Welfare of animals in transport

  1. 1.     Live transport: welfare regulations

  • 29 August 2012

  • Detailed guide

  1. 2.     Type 2 animal transporters: contingency plan template

  • 1 October 2014

  • Form

  1. 3.     Journey log

  • 1 October 2014

  • Form

  1. 4.     UK animal transporter: application for type 1 authorisation

  • 1 October 2014

  • Form

  1. 5.     UK animal transporter: application for type 2 authorisation

  • 1 October 2014

  • Form

  1. 6.     Welfare of Animals (Transport) Order 2006: inspection application

  • 1 October 2014

  • Form

  1. 7.     UK animal transport certificate and contingency plan for specific journey

  • 1 October 2014

  • Form

  1. 8.     Animal transport: contingency plan template for specific journey

  • 29 December 2014

  • Form




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