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Export of captive birds:

What you need to know



(Summarised from APHA official website)



Council Directive 92/65/EEC

Council Directive 92/65/EEC, otherwise known as the Balai Directive, is a piece of EU legislation that exists to cover the export within the EU of all animals, semen, ova and embryos not covered by species-specific legislation.

This includes captive birds, but not poultry and hatching eggs. The table below shows the classification of captive birds.










Birds of prey (falconiformes, strigiformes)

Racing pigeons (columbiformes)

Songbirds (passeriformes)


Under the Directive, in order to export, a premises must either be registered or approved by APHA.

A Balai registered premises can be, for example, the home of a breeder of captive birds. The owner undertakes to:


  • individually identify birds

  • keep identification and movement records

  • report the suspicion of notifiable disease

  • comply with any disease restrictions

  • trade only healthy birds

  • comply with national and EU welfare regulations


If health certification signed by an OV is not necessary – for instance, for non-psittacines – the owner will self-certify the health status of the bird by completing a Declaration.

For captive birds vaccinated against avian influenza and psittacines, an ITAHC, a commercial document signed by an OV, and a veterinary inspection before export is required.

A Balai approved premises must meet more stringent conditions. Balai approved premises are zoos or research facilities.


Psittacines to EU member states

Psittacines may carry psittacosis, which can cause severe flu-type symptoms in humans.

Additional Public Health requirements apply to this family. Consignments are accompanied by a health certificate (ITAHC) signed by an Official Veterinarian. In order to complete the certification, TRACES NDC, Notes for Guidance and a Checklist (CKL) are provided.

The premises must be Balai registered. The bird must be individually identified, and examined clinically within 48 hours of departure to certify that it is healthy and fit for the journey intended. It must not come from a holding where avian influenza has been diagnosed within 30 days, or where psittacosis has been diagnosed in the past 2 months. The area must not be subject to Newcastle disease restrictions.

Non-psittacines to EU member states

Birds of prey, perching birds and other captive birds do not require health certification under the Balai Directive. In most cases, exporter self-certification only is required.

Commercial movement of these birds may therefore take place on the basis of the following:

  • The premises of origin is Balai registered.

  • The birds are accompanied by a statement issued by the seller or exporter stating that they do not show any obvious signs of disease at the time or export, they do not come from a holding on which avian influenza has been diagnosed in the past 30 days, or an area covered by restrictions due to Newcastle disease.


Although an ITAHC is not legally required, some destination EU member states erroneously insist on its use for birds of prey and other non-psittacine birds.

All captive birds to non-EU countries

Requirements for non-EU countries are determined by the import conditions of each destination country, and this may include the need for an import permit.

  • These birds will travel on an Export Health Certificate (EHC), but be aware of additional certification requirements if birds are transiting the EU or other countries during the journey.

  • Freedom from avian influenza and Newcastle disease is essential.

  • The EHC may require a clinical inspection, details of any vaccinations given and the application of internal and external parasiticides prior to travel.

National Trade

For exports of captive birds to Northern Ireland, the Isle of Man or the Channel Islands, an Export Health Certificate and additional documents may be required.

There is a requirement to provide electronic notification of exports under National Trade conditions using TRACES. OVs must notify CITC that an EHC for National Trade has been completed and signed by returning one copy to CITC, preferably by email, on the day of signature. Upon receipt of the copy of the EHC, CITC will send a TRACES notification to the destination Authority that the consignment is underway.

Post certification procedures:

Once the EHC has been completed, the OV must make copies of the complete certificate (EHC) and any supplementary documents. These must be marked 'Certified Copy' and initialled.

  • One copy of each document must be returned to the Centre for International Trade, Carlisle (CITC) – preferably by email – within seven days.

  • One copy must be retained for record purposes.

  • The original documents must be sent with the consignment.

Once the ITAHC has been completed, the OV must make copies of the certificate. These must be marked 'Certified Copy' and initialled.

  • One copy must be returned to CITC, preferably by email on the day of signature.

  • One copy must be retained for record purposes.

  • The original documents must be sent with the consignment.


CITES is the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora: an international agreement between governments


It aims to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival.

The APHA Centre for International Trade in Bristol is responsible for dealing with CITES. Permits issued by APHA are valid for one consignment only. A CITES permit may be required for import, (re-)export or use for commercial gain of certain species; notably some birds of paradise, birds of prey, flamingos, owls and parrots.

Before completing the application for a permit, you must check the scientific name of the species, whether it is controlled by CITES and if any conditions apply. The species affected are listed in Appendices I, II and III.

Appendix I: threatened with extinction.

Appendix II: trade is controlled in order to ensure survival.

Appendix III: species that are protected in at least one country.



The International Air Transport Association (IATA) sets out the requirements for transporting animals by air

Information on air transport and container requirements can be found on the IATA website. The regulations are adopted by most countries across the world and must by law be complied with when shipping live animals by air from, to or within the UK.

IATA Live Animals Regulations provides up-to-date airline and government requirements, requirements on handling, marking and labelling, information on documentation and a comprehensive classification of animal species with the container specifications required. There are also guidelines for the non-air transport of live animals.

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