Animals in Europe

Definition of Animals

(1) Domitae naturae or mansuctac naturae. Animals of a tame or domesticated nature, e.g., horses and cattle. The owner is not liable for any injury they may do when lawfully upon a highway unless he is negligent. If, however, they are trespassing the owner is liable for the ordinary consequences of such a trespass, i. e., for such damage as the animal may from its nature be expected to do, and he is not liable for the vicious acts of an animal of an ordinarily quiet nature unless he knew that it was vicious. (1 Sm. L. C. 922.)
But the owner of a dog is liable for damage to horses, cattle, etc., without proof of knowledge of viciousness. (Dogs Act, 1906.)
(2) Ferae naturae. Animals of a wild nature, e.g., lions, deer. The owner keeps them at his peril and is liable for any injury which they may do, unless the person to whom injury is done brings it on himself. (1 Sm. L. C. 923.) There can be no more than a qualified ownership in animals ferae naturae y i. e., only so long as they are in possession. They could not be the subject of larceny at common law; but see now the Larceny Act, 1916, s. 1, sub-s. 3. See Cox v. Burbidge; Ellis v. Loftus Iron Co.; May v. Burdett. [1]

Veterinary Checks Directives

Directive 90/425/EEC covers veterinary and zootechnical checks applicable in intra-community trade in certain live animals and products between Member States of the EU and eliminates the need for veterinary checks at frontiers on certain animals, including bees, and provides instead for a system of intensified checks at points of origin (inspections of colonies) and spot checks at places of destination (documentary checks etc.). Directive 91/496/EEC covers inter-community trade with Third Countries, i.e. non-EU States.


At European level, the Directive on animal health requirements for trade in bees is called the ‘Balai Directive’ 92/65/EEC, and lists American foulbrood (AFB), the Small hive beetle (Aethina tumida) and Tropilaelaps mites as notifiable pests and diseases throughout the EU. The directive lays down the provisions for intra-Community trade in bees, and essentially requires that consignments of bees moved between Member States be accompanied by an original health certificate (valid 10 days) confirming freedom from disease. In December 2003, the European Commission introduced new legislation that strengthened the controls and certification requirements for importation of bees from outside the EU. Commission Decision 2003/881/EC sets out the health certification requirements for imports from Third Countries. These include the requirement that:

  • Imports of honey bees (Apis mellifera) can only be allowed into the EU from those Third Countries listed in Commission Regulation (EU) 206/2010 part 1 Annex II, provided that the 3 notifiable disease/pests of bees in the EU – American foulbrood; Small hive beetle and Tropilaelaps spp. – are also confirmed as notifiable throughout the exporting country or an exporting region of a Third Country specifically identified in Part 1 of Annex IV of the Regulation. Article 7 of this regulation also lays down the general conditions for the introduction into the European Union of certain bee species;
  • The bees have been inspected and certified as being free of diseases, including notifiable diseases and infestations affecting bees;
  • Imports from the listed Third Countries will be restricted to consignments of queen bees and attendant workers only. Each queen bee must be contained in a single cage and accompanied by no more than 20 attendant worker bees;
  • Imports of package bees are only allowed from EU Member States and New Zealand under a veterinary agreement between the EU and New Zealand, Commission Decision 2006/855/EC.

The importation of queen honeybees (and attendant worker bees) to the UK will be permitted from those Third Countries that can meet the provisions of Commission Decision 206/2010, Part 1 of Annex II.

The animals, semen and embryos covered by the Balai Directive and how to move them in the EU, or to and from non-EU countries

Importing, exporting and EU trade

If you move animals from an EU country to a non-EU country, this is considered exporting.

If you move animals into an EU country from a non-EU country, this is considered importing.

If you move animals from one EU country to another, this is considered EU trade.

Get an animal health certificate

You must have an animal health certificate to trade any live animals, birds, bees, plus the ova, embryos and semen of these animals.

You must make sure that animals or germinal product travel with their health certificates.

You can find template certificates in Annex E of the Balai Directive, part 1, 2 and 3.

You must ask your vet to do each of the following:

inspect the animal, semen or embryos before they’re moved
complete the health certificates with the EU Trade Notification System (TRACES)

Moving animals from registered or unregistered holdings

Sending animals

If your holding is registered, you can send animals from the UK to either a registered or unregistered holding in another EU member state.

You can also send them to an approved holding, unless they are carnivores or primates.

Receiving animals

If your holding is registered, you can bring animals into the UK from another registered holding in an EU member state.

If your holding is unregistered, you can only bring in the following animals from registered or approved holdings in EU member states:

  • ungulates,
  • birds,
  • rabbits and hares,
  • cats, dogs and ferrets that aren’t pets.

Unregistered holdings can’t trade in carnivores or primates.

Endangered species

If you’re moving endangered species covered by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species(CITES), you’ll need a permit.

Animals that registered holdings can trade

If your holding is registered, you can only trade the following animals, and only with registered or unregistered holdings in EU member states:

  • ungulates that aren’t livestock,
  • birds that aren’t commercial poultry,
  • rabbits and hares,
  • dogs, cats and ferrets that aren’t pets.

You can’t trade with approved holdings.

You need to put rabies-susceptible animals into quarantine.

Moving, importing and exporting live animals and animal products

There is information here on the following:

  • moving live animals and animal products as part of EU trade;
  • importing live animals and animal products from non-EU countries;
  • exporting live animals and animal products to non-EU countries.

There is also information on the animals, semen and embryos covered by the Balai Directive and how to move them in the EU, the State Members or to and from non-EU countries.


1. Definition of Animals is, temporally, from A Concise Law Dictionary (1927).

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