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Importing animals

The Trading Standards Service, along with Customs and Excise and DEFRA (the Government Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) enforce and advise upon the strict laws covering the importation of animals and the controls to prevent the spread of rabies.

The service also investigates reports of animals being illegally imported.

If you are importing animals as part of your trade special rules apply and you should contact us for further information.  

What you will need

When making a complaint regarding the illegal importation of animals we will require the following information -

  • your name, address and telephone number
  • the best time to contact you
  • the name and address of the business you are complaining about
  • brief details of what the complaint is about

For advice on importing animals as part of your trade or business we require -

  • your name, address and telephone number
  • the best time to contact you
  • the type and number of animals you would like advice about
  • where the animals are being transported from and where they are going to
  • how are the animals to be transported – type of vehicle
  • who owns the animals
  • details regarding the nature of advice you require


Rabies is a serious viral infection which attacks the central nervous system of humans and animals (normally by a bite from an infected animal) which can be fatal if not treated.

Imported animals must still be placed in quarantine unless the animal is specifically exempt from quarantine rules.

Please remember -

  • it is illegal to disobey quarantine rules
  • illegally imported animals can be destroyed
  • people breaking the rules can be fined or sent to prison
  • the importation of pets (including hamsters, gerbals, mice and birds) into the United Kingdom is strictly controlled and it is essential that anyone intending to import a pet should obtain the latest information

The pet travel scheme (PETS) run by DEFRA allows certain animals to be moved between specific countries without being taken into quarantine.

For more information on the pet travel scheme contact the pet travel scheme helpline on 0870 241 1710 or check the DEFRA website by clicking the link on the left-hand side of this page .

Contact us

Trading Standards Advice Centre
Unit 2
Bond Street

Tel: 01482 300 300
(Consumers please telephone 0845 404 0506)
Fax: 01482 612 138 

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