This page provides information on the import conditions for both Breeding/Production and Slaughter sheep and goats from Great Britain. It also provides documents which will help to make sure you have all the required import paperwork.

Breeding and production sheep and goats

Importing any new animals into your herd or flock obviously increases the risk for introducing disease – these include:

  • Maedi Visna Complex which affects Goats and Sheep.  The disease is an infectious, incurable, very slow developing condition which causes wasting and failing.  It cannot be detected early in an animal’s life.  Recent evidence suggests that health schemes for this disease may not give the level of assurance previously attributed to them
  • Brucellosis and Contagious Agalactia.  These do not occur in Great Britain, but do occur on the European mainland

The Northern Irish Sheep and Goat industry and DARD wish to keep the island free from these diseases.

As a precaution DARD, as part of its surveillance programme, is now sampling all new arrivals into Northern Ireland for the presence of these diseases as these animals would fall into the high risk category.

  • animals from Maedi Visna Non Accredited flocks will be sampled in isolation 5 months after importation
  • animals from MV/CAE Accredited free flocks/herds in GB will be sampled on arrival
  • sheep/goats from mainland Europe will also be sampled for Brucellosis and Contagious Agalactia on arrival
  • when appropriate we will sample animals at the port on arrival, otherwise they will be sampled at the farm
  • animals returning home from shows will not be sampled

Please note that any animals which have been brought into the country which are subsequently found to be infected with these diseases will be slaughtered along with any other animals which they have mixed with and may have infected.  Compensation is not payable for imported animals slaughtered in these circumstances.

Import conditions for breeding and production sheep and goats

You must apply to DARD Trade Section (028 9052 0989) at least 10 working days prior to import to obtain a Specific import licence permitting you to import animals from Great Britain. The licence conditions are set out below.

Port of entry

Landing must take place at the port of Larne and the person in charge of the animals must report immediately following disembarkation to a Portal Inspector and must co-operate with DARD staff as required. Animals may not leave the Port until a Portal Inspector has authorised such departure.

Sheep identification requirements

The animals to be imported must be clearly and permanently identified by means of two ear tags which permit tracing of their premises of origin. The identification used must be in accordance with the requirements set out in The Sheep and Goat (Records, Identification and Movement) (England) Order 2009 or equivalent legislation in Scotland and Wales.

Health certificate guarantees

The animals to be imported must be accompanied by an original health certificate and a schedule giving details of the individual ear numbers, breed, sex and age of the animals to which it related and the registration number of the vehicle in which the animals are being transported to Northern Ireland (NI). The health certificate and the schedule must be signed by an Official Veterinarian (OV) appointed by the appropriate authority in Great Britain. The health certificate referred to above must certify that:-

Maedi Visna (MV)/Caprine Arthritis Encephalitis (CAE)

  • the flock or herd of origin of the animals to be exported has fully accredited MV/CAE free status under the Scottish Agriculture Colleges (SAC) Scheme; or
  • for animals originating in flocks or herds not fully SAC MV/CAE accredited:
  • there must not have been any clinical or serological evidence of MV/CAE infection in the exporting flock or herd during the 3 years prior to export
  • all the animals for export are either more than twelve months of age, or if less than twelve months of age, come from flocks or herds which within the six months immediately preceding the date of export, have been sampled and tested with an Agar Gel Immunodiffusion test such that there is 95% confidence that less than 2% of the flock or herd are infected with MV/CAE
  • all the animals to be exported have remained in isolation for at least 30 days in accommodation approved by the appropriate authority in Great Britain and from the start of the isolation period no animal has been removed from that isolation until all the animals for export have left the premises. However if any animal was required to be removed from the isolation accommodation for other reasons before then they also have been subjected to an Agar Gel Immunodiffusion test for MV/CAE with negative results
  • within 30 days of export, all the animals in the isolation were subjected to an Agar Gel Immunodiffusion test for MV/CAE with negative results in the case of every animal tested
  • the certifying veterinarian has received an official statement signed by an authorised Officer of the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development confirming that the prospective importer has made the required post-import isolation arrangements and that these have been approved by the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development

The health certificate must certify that, within 24 hours of export to NI all the animals described on the health certificate were examined and found to be healthy, free from clinical evidence of infectious or contagious disease and were fit to travel.

Supplementary certificate guarantees

The imported animals must also be accompanied by a supplementary certificate for breeding/production sheep and goats signed by a Private Veterinary Practitioner certifying that:

Scrapie

  • that the flock of origin has been inspected by a PVP within 14 days of the export and can certify that there has been no evidence of Scrapie in the flock
  • they come from a holding meeting the following requirements:
  • the animals have been held on a holding where no case of Scrapie has been confirmed for at least 3 years
  • have been kept on holdings meeting these requirements since birth or for the last 3 years

Caseous lymhadenitis

  • they were not obtained from a holding on which there has been evidence of caseous lymphadenitis within the last 12 months.

Residency & standstill requirements

  • the animals have been resident on the holding of origin for at least 20 days immediately prior to export, or movement for sale to NI.
  • any standstill period as a result of movements of animals onto the folding of origin, as imposed by The Disease Control (England) Order 2003 (or equivalent legislation in Scotland and Wales) has been complied with.

Cleansing and disinfection requirements

The transport vehicle must be cleansed so as to remove all visible organic matter. It must be disinfected with a disinfectant approved by Defra prior to loading of the animals. During transport the imported animals must not come into contact with animals that are not certified as being of the same health status.

Post import conditions

Immediately after landing, the imported animals must be moved direct to the holding of destination in NI as shown on the health certificate. Failure to do so is an offence and may result in prosecution action being taken.

The person in charge of the holding of destination of the imported animals must advise the local Divisional Veterinary Officer of their arrival following importation. This requires the importer to confirm movement of the animals onto the farm by submitting form SG2 to their local DARD Office.

Maedi Visna/CAE

  • on arrival in NI all animals that originated from SAC MV/CAE accredited flocks/herds in Great Britain will be tested for MV/CAE. Animals from flocks or herds not SAC MV/CAE accredited must immediately be isolated for a period of not less than 6 months and be tested by DARD staff for MV/CAE with negative results, prior to release from isolation
  • the isolation facilities must have been inspected and approved by an Inspector of DARD at least 2 working days prior to import

Scrapie monitored flock members

Importers who are currently members of the NI Scrapie Monitored Flock Scheme must ensure that they import only sheep/goats which are fully compliant with the Scheme and are therefore strongly advised to request a copy of the Scrapie Monitored Scheme certificate, issued to the flock keeper in Great Britain. Importing animals which have originated from non Scrapie Monitored flocks in Great Britain could compromise the status of your flock, unless they are Type 1 (Genotype ARR/ARR) or satisfy the requirements for export to other EU Member States.

More useful links

Import of slaughter sheep or goats from Great Britain

You must apply to DARD Trade Section (028 9052 0989) at least 10 working days prior to import to obtain a Specific import licence permitting you to import animals from Great Britain. The licence conditions are set out below.

Port of entry

Landing must take place at the port of Larne and the person in charge of the animals must report immediately following disembarkation to a Portal Inspector and must co-operate with DARD staff as required. Animals may not leave the Port until a Portal Inspector has authorised such departure.

Sheep identification requirements

The animals to be imported must be clearly and permanently identified in accordance with the requirements set out in The Sheep and Goat (Records, Identification and Movement) (England) Order 2009 (or equivalent legislation in Scotland and Wales). Further information can be found on the Defra website via this link. 

Health certificate guarantees

The animals to be imported must be accompanied by an original health certificate and a schedule giving details of the individual ear numbers, breed, sex and age of the animals to which it related and the registration number of the vehicle in which the animals are being transported to Northern Ireland.

The health certificate and the schedule must be signed by an Official Veterinarian (OV) appointed by the appropriate authority in Great Britain. The health certificate must certify that, within 24 hours of export to Northern Ireland all the animals described on the health certificate were examined and found to be healthy, free from clinical evidence of infectious or contagious disease and were fit to travel.

Supplementary certificate guarantees

The imported animals must also be accompanied by a supplementary certificate for slaughter sheep and goats signed by a Private Veterinary Practitioner stating that they are not animals required to be slaughtered under a programme to control or eradicate a contagious or infectious disease.

Cleansing and disinfection requirements

The transport vehicle must be cleansed so as to remove all visible organic matter and disinfected with a disinfectant approved by the competent authority of the exporting country before loading of the animals. During transport the imported animals must not come into contact with animals that are not certified as being of the same health status.

Post import conditions

Immediately after landing, the imported animals must be moved direct to slaughter and may only be consigned to the abattoir as shown on the health certificate. The animals must not be moved to a market. On arrival at the meat plant/abattoir the animals and health certificate(s) which accompanied the animals must be presented an officer of DARD for checking.

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