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Imports and transit of certain ungulate animals

The European Union (EU) establishes health rules for the importation and transit of ungulate animals (llamas, giraffes, hippopotamuses, warthogs, deer, etc.) on its territory. The Directive brings together in one text the conditions and requirements for importing wild or domestic animals belonging to species which are sensitive to certain diseases, such as foot-and-mouth disease or hog cholera.


Council Directive 2004/68/EC of 26 April 2004 laying down animal health rules for the importation into and transit through the Community of certain live ungulate animals, amending Directives 90/426/EEC and 92/65/EEC and repealing Directive 72/462/EEC.


This Directive lays down the animal health rules governing the importation from non-EU Member States and transit through the European Union (EU) of certain ungulates listed in Annex I.

Animals imported into or in transit through the EU must come from countries or regions that appear on a list of authorised third countries and be accompanied by veterinary certificates. The third countries must also comply with certain animal health rules.

Establishing the lists of authorised third countries

The Commission, with the assistance of the Standing Committee on the Food Chain, draws up a list of third countries from which importations are authorised. In drawing up these lists, it takes particular account of:

  • the health status of livestock;
  • the legislation of the third country in relation to animal health and welfare;
  • the organisation of the country’s competent veterinary authority and its inspection services;
  • compliance with the conditions of the EU’s health rules;
  • membership of the International Office of Epizootics (IOE);
  • notification of infectious or contagious diseases within the specified deadlines;
  • experience of previous imports of live animals from the third country;
  • the results of inspections carried out in the third country;
  • the measures implemented in the third country for controlling infectious or contagious animal diseases (see Annex II).

Specific animal health conditions

The importation or transit of animals from third countries may be subject to the conditions of specific health rules, taking into consideration:

  • the animal species concerned;
  • the age and sex of the animals;
  • the intended destination or use of the animals;
  • the measures to applied after importation;
  • any specific provisions applicable to trade within the EU.

Guarantees provided by third countries

Authorised third countries must guarantee that the animals have been checked by a veterinary official and comply with certain animal health conditions.

Each consignment of animals must be accompanied by a veterinary certificate attesting that the animals concerned are hazard-free and providing certain information, such as details on public health, animal health or animal welfare.

Derogations may be provided depending on the destination of the animals (zoos, circuses, pet animals, etc.) or depending on the measures implemented in the third country to fight a disease listed in Annex II.

Inspections in third countries

Commission experts may carry out inspections in order to verify the compliance or equivalence of the animal health rules of the country with European legislation.


The adoption of Directive 2004/68/EC is in response to the foot-and-mouth disease and swine fever epidemics which the European Union has experienced in recent years.

The final text of the Directive improves the European legislation by taking account of the development of international standards by the International Office of Epizootics (IOE).


ActEntry into forceDeadline for transposition in the Member StatesOfficial Journal

Directive 2004/68/EC



OJ L 139 of 30.4. 2004


Commission Regulation (EU) No 206/2010 of 12 March 2010 laying down lists of third countries, territories or parts thereof authorised for the introduction into the European Union of certain animals and fresh meat and the veterinary certification requirements [Official Journal L 73 of 20.3.2010].

Last updated: 16.02.2011
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