Importing Nonindigenous (Alien) Animals
There are strict rules to follow when importing, or planning to keep, non-native animals in the United Kingdom.
The same legislation also applies to other pets and animal species that you either buy, or acquire them for selling.
In some circumstances, you would need to apply for more than one licence and place the animal into quarantine.
There are several importing rules to comply with – determined by the animal’s country of origin and which of the following regulations cover it:
- Balai Directive
- Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) of Wild Fauna and Flora
- EU Invasive Alien Species Regulation
Thus, before you try to import an invasive (alien) animal from outside of the United Kingdom, it is important that you:
- Check whether:
- EU IAS Regulation applies to the animal that you are planning to bring into Great Britain.
- You need to apply for CITES permits and certificates (e.g. for moving or trading endangered species).
- Follow the guidance provided by the Balai Directive (for exporting, importing, or moving live animals, some pets, and germplasm (semen, ova, and embryos)).
- Search the GB Non-native Species Information Portal for distribution data (to bring it into Great Britain).
Furthermore, to avoid a severe fine (or being prosecuted by the authorities) you must not:
- Allow any non-native animal to escape into the wild in the United Kingdom.
- Keep any of the non native UK species listed below (unless you already have the appropriate licence).
- Release any non-native (alien, invasive, or nonindigenous) animal species without having a valid licence to do so.
Note: The master section contains more advice and information about the rules for importing commercial goods into the United Kingdom.
Typical examples of non-native animals includes species of:
- Insects and other invertebrates (e.g. spiders)
Import Licence Application (RM01)
You cannot import a non-native (alien) animal into Great Britain without a valid licence. Note that the application for a licence to import live animals (Form RM01) excludes pet dogs, cats, and ferrets).
The information sent on the form goes to the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA). They will use it to decide whether to quarantine the imported animals.
Quarantining Non Native Animals
As a rule, it is the animal species that will determine whether it needs to be placed in quarantine – once it arrives in the United Kingdom. If so, APHA will contact you.
The importer will be responsible for arranging any quarantine requirements. In most cases, non-native mammals need to stay quarantined for:
- Four (4) months (before bringing them into England or Wales).
- A period of up to four (4) months (when bringing them into Scotland).
Importing Endangered Species
Some animal imports require a permit issued under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (e.g. CITES imports and exports).
The APHA Centre for International Trade has more information about CITES licences when importing from outside the European Union (EU):
EU Invasive Alien Species Regulation
Contact APHA for further guidance about the forms needed to apply for permits when moving and using invasive alien species (e.g. under article 35(1)).
Licence to Keep Non Native Animals
Further detailed guidance is available to help you apply for a licence to keep non-native species of animals:
- Apply for a licence to keep a dangerous animal
- Introducing or keeping non-native fish and shellfish
- Keeping wild birds
- Keeping zoo animals
Important: The EU Invasive Alien Species Regulation applies to permit applications for certain species from the 3rd of August 2016.
Licence to Release Non Native Animals
You must make sure any non-native (alien) animal cannot escape into the wild. Another section explains how to apply for a licence to release non-native wildlife in the United Kingdom.
Note: The GB non-native species secretariat website contains more information about limiting the effects of an invasive species on human health and for UK wildlife.
Related Help Guides
- Hiring someone to deal with customs on your behalf.
- How to import goods permanently into the United Kingdom?
- Using wood packaging material for import and export.
Note: This short video presented by ‘Wild Suburbia UK’ highlights ten species that are invasive to the United Kingdom.