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Imports and Exports

This page provides information and guidance on importing and exporting live honey and bumble bees.
For guidance on other products of bee origin, please see: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/guidance-on-importing-and-exporting-live-animals-or-animal-products

Imports

Imports

The Bee Diseases and Pests Control Orders define the importation requirements for honey bees and bumble bees.

Current Rules

The ‘Guidance Notes for Importers’ provides full details on what you need to do to comply with the legislation and health certification requirements if you wish to import live bees.

Imports of live bees (including queens, packages and colonies) are only permitted if accompanied by an official European Union (EU) or Third Country health certificate issued by the competent authority where the bees originated. Importers must notify the National Bee Unit with at least 24 hours prior notice of the consignment’s arrival in the country. For beekeepers, the easiest way to do this is by logging in to your BeeBase account and completing the online 'Import Notification Form' found on the left hand index. Alternatively, or if you are not a beekeeper, you can complete an Importer Notification Form (BEE 28) and post or email it to us.

Third Country Imports - Border and Laboratory Checks
In addition to the above, bees imported from outside the EU (Third Country), must arrive in the UK through an approved Border Inspection Post (BIP) . Here, the paperwork checks are dealt with by APHA veterinary inspectors and the consignment will be issued a certificate for onward movement. These checks are subject to the relevant veterinary charges. Please refer to the GOV.UK website to obtain details on the current fee: https://www.gov.uk/importing-live-animals-or-animal-products-from-non-eu-countries

Additionally, honey bee importers are required to send in all materials associated with the import to the National Bee Unit laboratory for diagnostic checks within 3 days of the consignment’s arrival. Details on submitting a sample can be found here.

Bee Imports from Crown Dependencies
The Channel Islands although not part of the UK, are 'Crown Dependencies'. Health certificates are required for movements of bees from Crown Dependencies to the UK. In addition, Crown Dependencies are not EU Member States; however, EU legislation sets out the EU arrangements applicable to the Crown Dependencies for trade in agricultural products (such as live animals). This legislation provides that veterinary and animal health legislation applies in Crown Dependencies under the same conditions as in the UK for products imported into the Islands or exported from the Islands to the EU. Similarly, Crown Dependencies must impose the same import requirements as the UK when receiving bees from countries outside the EU.

In February 2015, under Commission Implementing Decision 2015/266, the Isle of Man was officially recognised as free of Varroosis. In accordance with this Decision, the introduction to this territory of bees in any stage of their life cycle, used hives, skeps or any receptacle used to house bees, is strictly prohibited.

Import Data
To see data regarding the importation of bees from EU Member States and Third countries, please see the Disease Incidence reporting page.

Prepare for Brexit

The rules for importing animals, animal products, high-risk food and feed from EU countries and non-EU countries will change after Brexit.

The UK will leave the EU on 31 October. This page tells you how to prepare for Brexit. It will be updated if anything changes, including if a deal is agreed.

For Imports of Live Honey bees and Bumble bees from the European Union and Third Countries: In the event of a no deal the government does not intend to change the border controls on imports of live bees on day one. Therefore, the existing requirements for pre-notification and health certification will remain; however, the UK will no longer have access to the Trade Control and Expert System (TRACES) for electronic certification.

Prospective importers should follow the below steps to ensure they are compliant with import regulations:

Imports from the European Union

Imports from Third Countries

Exports


Current Rules


If you intend to take bees from the UK, you must ensure you comply with the receiving countries’ import requirements.

To export bees to another part of the European Union please complete and return to the NBU Office (by post or email) an Application to Export. Your request will then be processed and a local inspector will be in touch to arrange an inspection for export. Assuming the inspection is clear of the necessary statutory pests and diseases, and the origin apiary meets the requirements of the health certification, the office can then produce the necessary health certificate that must travel with the bees. This certificate is only valid for 10 days from date of issue, by which time, the consignment must reach its final destination.

For exports to any other country, the exporter should find out the certification requirements of the destination country, assuming imports are permitted from the UK into that country. If certification is required, please provide a copy of the relevant import controls alongside your completed export application. The NBU will then review the controls and confirm whether the necessary conditions can be met.

Fireblight Disease – Movement Restrictions
If you are intending move bees to another EU Member State, you should familiarise yourself with the restrictions that apply between 15 March – 30 June related to Fireblight disease, a serious notifiable disease of apples, pears and other related trees and shrubs in the Rosaceae family.


Prepare for Brexit


The rules for exporting animals, animal products, high-risk food and feed from EU countries and non-EU countries will change after Brexit.

The UK will leave the EU on 31 October. This page tells you how to prepare for Brexit. It will be updated if anything changes, including if a deal is agreed.

For Exports of Live Honey bees and Bumble bees to the European Union and Third Countries: In the event of a no deal the, the UK will become a Third Country. Prospective exporters should follow the below steps to ensure they are compliant with import regulations.

Exports to the European Union

Exports to Third Countries