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Brussels, 16 December 2002

Questions and Answers on animal transport

    How long may an animal be transported?

EU legislation provides for an overall limit of 8 hours for transport by road of livestock cattle, horses, sheep and pigs). However this limit can be extended provided that upgraded vehicles are used (see Q3).

The maximum travelling times in upgraded vehicles are the following:

  • Very young animals (still drinking milk): 9 hours travel + 1 hour rest (watering) + 9 hours travel

  • Pigs: 24 hours provided they have permanent access to water

  • Horses: 24 hours with watering every 8 hours

  • Cattle, sheep and goats: 14 hours travel +1 hour rest (watering) + 14 hours travel

After the above sequences, animals shall be unloaded, rested, watered and fed for at least 24 hours in a staging point (see Q2). Travelling time limits are verified using the route plan procedure (see Q6).

    What is the role of a staging point?

A staging point is a place where animals must be unloaded, rested, watered and fed for at least 24 hours at the end of the travelling periods mentioned in Q1. A staging point gives the opportunity for the animals to recover from the travel period. EU legislation defines specific conditions for staging points to be approved by national authorities.

    What conditions does an animal transport truck have to fulfil?

The basic conditions for a lorry transporting livestock are the following:

  • A roof to protect the animals against rain or sun

  • No sharp or protruding objects in the animal compartment

  • No holes, gaps or cracks in the floor

  • Anti slippery floor and sufficient bedding to absorb urine and droppings

  • Ramps and lateral protection for loading/unloading

  • Side openings to provide ventilation in hot weather

In addition, trucks transporting livestock for more than 8 hours also have to fulfil the following conditions:

  • Access to the animals in order to water and feed them in the vehicle

  • Proper ventilation system either by passive ventilation (side openings) or mechanically assisted ventilation

  • Partitions that allow animals to be separated into small groups

  • Drinking facilities (permanent access to water is required for pigs)

  • Space and equipment to store and deliver feed during the journey

    Which conditions does a company transporting animals have to respect?

Prior to operating, an EU company should apply to the competent authorities for an authorisation of establishment. The application shall be accompanied by a written undertaking stating that the company will comply with all the requirements of EU legislation and use personnel that has proper experience or training for handling animals. The authorisation may be suspended or withdrawn by the national authorities in case of serious or repeated infringements.

In addition, for any journey involving more than one country and more than 8 hours the transporter shall plan the journey properly, as described in the answer below.

    What is a route plan?

The route plan is a document in a specific format that is used to check that travelling time limits are respected. The procedure is compulsory for any international journey exceeding 8 hours (except for transport by air).

Before starting the journey, the transporter submits the route plan to the authorities. If the plan is in accordance with EU rules the official veterinarian stamps the route plan and delivers the veterinary certificates, both of which accompany the animals during the journey.

During the journey, the driver records all the events, such as resting periods at staging points, on the route plan. At the end of the journey the transporter is required to send the completed route plan back to the authorities of departure. If it appears that the journey has not been realised in accordance with the plan, explanations should be provided.

The authorities can check route plans at any stage of the journey.

    How much of the transport involves live animals?

According to estimates by the livestock industry, nearly 1 million animals are transported per day (poultry excluded), i.e. 365 million per year. Cross-border trade (including import/export from/to third countries) accounts according to Eurostat for roughly 20 million animals per year (poultry excluded). Only 5, 5% of animals are thus traded across borders.

    Are subsidies paid for live transport?

No. There are no EU subsidies for the transport of live animals within the European Union.

However, the Common Agriculture Policy allows for financial restitution for export of cattle to third countries. To get refunds, EU animal welfare conditions have to be respected. Approximately 300 000 cattle are exported every year from the EU to third countries.

    What is the role of the national authorities?

National authorities are responsible for the day-to-day implementation of EU legislation. They have to take legal and administrative measures in order to ensure that EU rules are properly enforced. This implies in particular that they must provide adequate resources in staff and equipment as well as training and instructions to the personnel concerned. They are not only responsible for taking appropriate measures to prevent breaches of EU law but also to ensure proper follow-up when infringements are observed.

    What is the role of the Commission?

Based on the Protocol on animal protection annexed to the EC Treaty the European Commission has a role in maintaining, elaborating and upgrading standards for animal welfare. The Commission is also asked to ensure that EU legislation is properly transposed and applied in the Member States once it has been adopted. For this purpose Commission inspectors from the Food and Veterinary Office (FVO) regularly visit Member State authorities. When the Commission considers that there is sufficient evidence that a Member State has failed to properly implement EU rules, infringement proceedings can be initiated at the European Court of Justice against the Member State concerned. Reports of the FVO are available at:

    What will change in the future?

The Commission will present a proposal to replace the existing EU legislation in the near future. This proposal will aim at:

  • Providing more harmonised and stricter procedures in order to ensure better enforcement. This aspect will relate to the conditions for transporters, road drivers and vehicles to be authorised, certificates for transporters, drivers and vehicles and exchange of information between national authorities in case of infringements.

  • Updating the technical standards in line with the new scientific data on animal transport provided by the 2002 report of the Scientific Committee on Animal Health and Animal Welfare. This report covers a wide range of subjects and in particular includes aspects on travelling time sequences, space allowances, training of drivers, fitness of animals to be transported, higher standards for the transport of horses and requirements for the means of transport.

  • Extending some training and operational requirements for livestock markets.

  • Providing detailed rules for livestock vessels.

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