Import, export and trade in the EU internal market of animals, embryos and gametes

Importing animals, embryos and gametes from non-EU countries

“Imports” of live animals and animal embryos and gametes mean their importation from non-EU countries (“third countries”) to the EU. However, if the animals, embryos and gametes are brought from a country that is considered equal with EU Member States based on an agreement between the country and the EU, the movement is not considered importation from a third country but import from or movement within the internal market. Such countries include, for example, Norway and Switzerland.

Import requirements

Import requirements are largely harmonised in EU legislation, which means that apart from a few exceptions the same rules apply to imports into all EU countries. There are also certain areas in which the requirements have not been harmonised at the EU level, allowing Member States to set their own requirements for the imports of the animals, embryos and gametes in question. These unharmonised areas include, for example, import requirements concerning the embryos and gametes of reptiles, amphibians, arachnids, insects, dogs and cats.

Requirements for the import of pet animals are somewhat different from the requirements concerning animals imported for commercial purposes. Pets are only considered to include dogs, cats, ferrets, amphibians, reptiles, rodents, rabbits and specimens of certain bird species, ornamental aquatic animals and invertebrates.


Commercial imports of animals, embryos and gametes are only permitted via approved veterinary border inspection posts (BIPs) on the external borders of the Union. The purpose of veterinary border inspections is to ensure that animals, embryos and gametes imported into the EU meet the relevant animal health requirements. Apart from a few exceptions, consignments that pass the veterinary check can be placed on the market throughout the EU.

Pet animals can be moved into the EU via border crossing points designated as points of entry for pet animals. At the border crossing point, the Finnish Customs inspect the pets to ensure they meet the relevant animal health requirements.

Safeguard measures

If a factor that may directly or indirectly cause serious risk to human or animal health is present or spreading in a third country, the Commission will establish a temporary import restriction, i.e. a safeguard measure.  

Further information and links:

Further information on imports and import control of animals, embryos and gametes is available from the Finnish Food Safety Agency Evira.

Further information

Hentriikka Kontio, eläinlääkintöneuvos 
MMM, Ruokaosasto, Eläin- ja kasvinterveyden yksikkö 0295162423