Many poultry breeders who have particularly rare breeds often wish to expand their bloodlines by buying in eggs or birds from the continent, however the rules are a minefield and in this article we hope to give a basic but clear understanding. These rules are constantly changing and you need to always check with DEFRA the most up to date rules if you are seriously considering importing avian species.

If you are bringing in five or fewer birds, they can be defined as pets (provided you are not using them for meat, eggs for human consumption, or breeding purposes) and therefore you do not need permits, but you must check with the airport/airline or seaport/liner that they are happy to carry the birds in.

Furthermore the birds must be transported in suitable containers to prevent escape and the escape of droppings.

If 5 to 20 birds (or fewer than 20 hatching eggs) are to be imported from the holding then:

  • the birds must have been held in the EU since hatching or for at least 3 months
  • have had no clinical signs of disease at loading
  • must not be subject to any animal health restrictions 
  • must not be from an area restricted due to an outbreak of a notifiable disease 
  • must be accompanied by an original health certificate

If more than 20 birds (or 20 or more hatching eggs) are being imported then:

  • the farm from where the birds are coming from must be inspected and approved by the veterinary authority in the country of origin
  • must be accompanied by an animal health certificate
  • the birds must have been negative on blood tests for Salmonellas pullorum and gallinarum within a month of importation
  • if eggs for hatching are to be imported then the parent stock must have tested negative for Salmonella pullorum and gallinarum within the three months preceding import.
  • the crates must minimize droppings leaving them
  • the crates must not have birds from a different species or from a different holding in them
  • the lorry must not travel through an area with Newcastle Disease or Avian Influenza

If more than five birds are being imported then the haulier needs to be licensed to transport the birds along with having suitable crates.

Ultimately, to import more than five birds requires veterinary involvement in the country of origin which can be expensive, meaning your new birds quickly become very costly.

Always check with DEFRA before importing birds, irrespective of the numbers involved.


If you require any further information then please contact