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Imports and Exports

This page provides information and guidelines to beekeepers on importing and exporting bees within the EU and Third Countries.

Guidelines for Beekeepers

Guidelines for Beekeepers

The Bee Diseases and Pests Control Orders define the importation requirements for honeybees and bumblebees.

Official Health Certificates
Import or export of bees, (including queens, packages and colonies) is permitted only if accompanied by an Official European Union (EU) or Third Country health certificate issued by the competent authority where the bees originated. The Health certificate must be drawn up in the language of the Destination Member State.   Details of any export consignments are sent to the country of destination using the Trade Control and Expert System – TRACES system.

The TRACES system is a risk management tool for animal and public health, relating to the trade of animals and animal products, whether within the EU Community or originating in Third countries, which the NBU uses to track imports & issue export health certificates.

Border Checks
When bees are imported from outside the EU (Third Country), the health certificates and paper checks are dealt with by Defra veterinary inspectors at specific places of entry into the EU known as a Border Inspection Post (BIP).  Imports into England and Wales are conveyed through Heathrow, Gatwick or Manchester airports. Please refer to the GOV.UK website to obtain details on the current fee:

It is a legal requirement that you notify the National Bee Unit of imports of bees from outside the UK. You can do this by completing the Importer Notification Form and posting or emailing it to us. Alternatively you can log in to the Beekeeper pages of BeeBase and click the 'Import Notifications' link from the left hand index.

Bee Imports from Crown Dependencies
The Channel Islands (and the Isle of Man), 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. 

However, 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.

For beekeepers interested in exporting bees to another part of the European Union please complete and return to the NBU Office (by post or email) a Request for Export form. 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 Third Countries the exporter should find out the certification requirements of the destination country, assuming imports are permitted from the UK into that country.

Are you intending to transport or send any bees to another EU Member State this year? If so you should familiarise yourself of the restrictions related to Fireblight disease, a serious notifiable disease of apples, pears and other related trees and shrubs in the Rosaceae family.

Laboratory Checks - Third Country Imports
Importers are required to send in materials associated with the import to the National Bee Unit laboratory for diagnostic checks.

Guidance Notes
For beekeepers interested in importing bees into the UK from another Member State of the European Union (EU) or from Third Countries outside the EU please consult the detailed Guidance Notes for Importers. These guidelines provide the full information on what you need to do to comply with the legislation and health certification requirements if you wish to import or export bees.

Import Data

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