Honeybee and bumblebee imports and exports

This page provides information and guidelines to beekeepers on importing and exporting bees within the EU and other third countries.

Guidelines for beekeepers

The Trade in Animals and Related Products Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2011 and The Bee Diseases and Pests Control Order (Northern Ireland) 2007 (As Amended) define the importation requirements for honeybees and bumblebees.

Health certificates

Import or export of bees, (including queens, packages and colonies) is permitted if accompanied by an Official European Union (EU) or Third Country health certificate issued by the competent authority of the country of origin of the bees via TRACES.

The TRACES system is a risk management tool for animal health and public health, relating to trade in animals and products of animal origin whether within the EU Community or originating in third countries. It also provides the veterinary authorities of the Member States and third countries with assistance in dealing with the animal health certification required.

Border checks

When bees are imported from outside the EU they must be presented at an approved Border Inspection Post (BIP). In the UK, the only approved BIPs are Heathrow and Gatwick airports where the health certificates and paper checks will be dealt with by Defra veterinary inspectors before being conveyed through. Importers will be required to send in materials associated with the import to a designated laboratory for diagnostic checks.


Importers are also required to notify the authorities of the arrival of the consignments of bees using the Notification of Bee Imports Form (BN1). It is a legal requirement that you notify imports of bees into Northern Ireland from outside the UK.

Bee Imports from Crown Dependencies

The Channel Islands and the Isle of Man, although not part of the UK are 'Crown Dependencies'.

Under Council Regulation (EEC) No. 706/73 (which sets out the Community arrangements applicable to the Crown Dependencies for trade in agricultural products), Crown Dependencies must impose the same import requirements as the UK when receiving bees from Third Countries, and the UK must treat imports from the Crown Dependencies as though they were internal movements within the UK.

The Crown Dependencies, however, have their own import requirements; please contact the relevant authorities for further information.


For beekeepers interested in exporting bees to another part of the European Union, an application using a Health Certificate to Export Bees Form (BN8) is required. Your local bee inspector will arrange the required inspection for the export. For Third Countries, the exporter should find out the certification requirements of the destination country, assuming imports are permitted from Northern Ireland into that country.

Guidance notes

For beekeepers interested in importing bees into Northern Ireland from another Member State of the European Union (EU) or from Third Countries outside the EU please consult the detailed Guidance for Northern Ireland Bee Importers. The guidelines 'Guidance for Northern Ireland Bee Importers' provide the full information on what you need to do to comply with the legislation and health certification requirements.

Please note that Hawaii is now not an approved Third Country. The EU Commission has now amended Regulation (EU) 206/2010, which removes the derogation for Hawaii. 

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