General information

IATA Area: 2

Capital: London (LON).

Local Time: GMT

Country Code: +44

Local Currency: Pound Sterling (GBP)

Customs working hours are Monday through to Friday 0800-1800hours, Saturday 0800-1600hours.Clearance outside customs hours of urgent goods like perishables, live animals etc possible on request, at least 24 hours in advance.

Documentary Requirements

Commercial Consignments.

Invoice: in triplicates for all merchandise

Packing list indicating contents of individual packages when a consignment consists of more than one package.

Certificate of origin or export certificate from country of origin where a UK Import licence or permit is required.

Certificate of Origin or Movement certificate where a preferential rate of duty may be claimed.

Community Transit Forms as appropriate for goods in transit within the European Union.

Phytosanitary certificate to accompany live plants, shrubs and trees, certain seeds, certain raw fruits and potatoes. The certificate must state that the items have been examined and conform to the requirements of the British Department for the Environment, food and rural Affairs and must be signed by an official Government Health or sanitary officer.  Some material is prohibited except under licence.


Live animals 

Import license 

All birds, mammals, fish, crustaceans and bees require an import license which must be obtained from the department for the Environment, Food and Rural affairs.

Animals designated as endangered species will require special permission from the department of Environment even when an import license has been obtained from the Department for the environment, food and rural affairs.

Exception: Cats and dogs from the EU may enter the UK without an importer license provided they are for trade, both supplier and importer are registered in their respective countries and the animals have a microchip identification tag.


All animal containers must meet the container requirements specified in the IATA Live animals regulations which have a force of law in the UK.

Health certificate 

The import license specifies whether or not the health certificate needs to be signed by a government Veterinary Officer. If there is no such requirement a local veterinary officer. If there is no such requirement a local veterinarian may sign it.

Rabies Order 

Animals susceptible to rabies are subject to 6 months quarantine. A list of approved quarantine kennels can be obtained from the ministry who also issue  a boarding document  which the shipper must hand over to the carrier at the time of acceptance and a red ‘Rabies Control’ label which must be fixed onto the container. Arrangements with the kennels must be made before the import license is issued .One of the conditions on the import license is issued.

Cats and dogs 

In addition to the above the containers for cats and dogs must be

Fitted with the external lifting handles that provide adequate protection to handlers.

Completely nose and paw proof; mesh used must be at least 2mm thick with

 For cats - mesh size no larger than 2.5*2.5 cm (1*1 in)

For dogs - mesh size no larger than 2.5cm (1 in) wide and 7.6 cm (3in) high.

Padlocked or fastened with secure lock/bolt when in use.

Fitted with a solid floor or tray.


All birds imported or transiting the UK must be fully fledged before leaving the   country of export .Importation of birds (other than pet birds) is permitted only through London (Heathrow) and London (Gatwick) airports.

There three types of import licenses:

Family pet birds;- Pet birds are limited 6 to a family and these birds can land at any UK Customs airport.

The quarantine is on the owners premises.

Racing pigeons, birds of prey, exhibition poultry and nonspittacine specimen for zoological gardens and scientific collections. These birds can only be imported only through: Birmingham, Edinburgh, Gatwick, Glasgow, Heathrow, Leeds, Manchester, and Prestwick. The quarantine is on approved quarantine premises.

Captive birds (other than a and b above, usually commercial shipments) and poultry including day old chicks etc. These birds must be checked at Heathrow Animal Quarantine Station before they moved to the importers premises. Landing at Gatwick is permitted provided special at Gatwick is permitted provided special transport is arranged to take the birds to Heathrow for checking.

A red ‘captive bird control label, issued with the import license, must be affixed to the container (not needed for poultry).


Pet cats and dogs sent to the UK are a subject to VAT on the estimated value of the animal a the time of importation. Personal relief may be obtained provided a fully completed a fully completed customs form C5 accompanies the pet. If the customs form is not available, a deposit must be paid before the animal is released to the kennels. A refund may be claimed, but the process is lengthy and expensive.

Endangered Species. 

Certain animals are classed as endangered species and the importation of these species, their parts or derivatives or items made from them are controlled in addition to the licensing.

Import of animals from outside the EU

Animals, other than rabies susceptible animals, can be landed only at the airports that have Border Inspection Post status.

Plant and plant materials  

Phytosanitary certificates are only required for plants and particular plant products entering the EU from third countries. Certain plants and plant products are prohibited from entering the EU unless special license has been obtained .Within the EU plants and plant products can be moved freely with only limited range of plants and plant products needing a plant passport to facilitate this.

Endangered species:- Certain plants are classified as endangered species and the importation of these species, their parts or derivatives or items made from them are controlled in addition to the licensing described above.

Arms, ammunition and explosives. 

Firearms, ammunition and munitions of war restricted. Explosives may only imported under Home Office License.

Narcotics and drugs 

Controlled drugs may only be imported under Home office license and by air only through London Airport.

Human Remains. 

Certificate of Death issued by Civil Registrar or other competent authority at place where death occurred. When cremated, additional certificate of cremation is required.

Animal products. 

The following animal products may enter the EU only at an approved border inspection point where they will be subjected to veterinary check.

Meat and meat products for human consumption

Fish /fishery products for human consumption

Products of animal origin  for human consumption

Milk and milk products for human consumption

Snails and frogs’ legs for human consumption

Egg products for human consumption


Hatching eggs of poultry

Hay and straw

Aquaculture products

Carcasses or parts of animals or fish or products of origin not intended for direct human consumption.

Ova/semen and embryos of any mammal except man.

At least 6 hours notice must be given to the authority to arrange the checks to be carried out .This notice must coincide with the UK working hours of 0800-1800hors Monday to Friday. The costs of the inspection vary depending on the weight of the consignment and the type of the products. A health certificate, in English, must accompany all these consignments.

Border Inspection posts. 

All animal products for human consumption

All animal products not intended for human consumption

Animal products for human consumption which are imported under controlled conditions only.

Animal products not intended for human consumption which are imported under ambient temperatures only.

Semen and embryos.

Belfast Airport –a, b, e

East Midland Airport –c, d

Gatwick Airport –a, b

Heathrow Airport –a, b

Glasgow Airport –a, d

Manchester Airport –a, b

Meat and meat products 

Must bear an official Certificate /Establishment Number of the approved premises in country of origin. There are numerous restrictions for cooked meat and all requirements must be met before dispatch.

Meat, fresh, refrigerated and offal that is boxed chilled or frozen may be landed only in London Gatwick Airports. A general license or specific license must be obtained in advance and 24 hours notice of arrival must be given to the carrier.

Uncooked poultry meat may only be imported under license from countries that have satisfied the Minister of agriculture, Fisheries and food as to their poultry disease situation and control measures. Each consignment must be accompanied by a health certificate specified in the license.

Fully cooked poultry meat may be imported from certain countries general licenses. Certain other countries require an additional Heath certificate.


Asbestos, chlorofluorocarbons (CFC’s and other ozone depleting substances) and therapeutic substances restricted.



Coins, other than gold or silver, counterfeit or imitation coins, the latter includes chocolates manufactured and foil covered, prepared opium, forged or imitation postage stamps and dies, instrument and materials for making such stamps, goods which contravene the merchandise marks acts, 1956, or imply any government guarantee or sanction or bear essay marks or stamps (e.g. gold or silver plate), horror comics and any plate of photographic film prepared for the purpose of printing copies thereof ,lottery advertisement and notices, matches made with white phosphorus, pornographic literature or prints and indecent articles, seditious literature, unauthorized copyright works.