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Food Safety

Poultry and hatching eggs

Movements within the Union

To prevent spreading of animal diseases, many aspects of keeping and moving poultry and hatching eggs are set out Regulation (EU) 2016/429 of the European Parliament and of the Council (Animal Health Law, AHL) on transmissible animal diseases.

Before and during dispatch

Regulation 2019/2035 lays down rules for establishments keeping terrestrial animals and for the traceability of those animals within the Union. As a rule, establishments (Art. 84 of Regulation (EU) 2016/429) and transporters (Art. 3 of Regulation 2019/2035) have to be registered by the competent authority.

In addition, hatcheries and establishments keeping poultry for purposes other than slaughter moving animals to another Member State must be approved by the competent authority provided they comply with certain requirements as regards biosecurity, surveillance, facilities, personnel and supervision (Art. 7 and 8 of Regulation 2019/2035). Only poultry and hatching eggs that originate from a registered or approved establishment can be moved to another Member State.

The animal health requirements for movements within the Union of poultry and hatching eggs are laid down in Regulation (EU) 2020/688. These rules and risk mitigation measures ensure that movements of animals and hatching eggs do not pose a significant risk of spreading diseases that affect human or animal health.

There are biosecurity rules for the transport of animals and hatching eggs applicable to means of transport and containers (Articles 4 and 5 of Regulation (EU) 2020/688).

Animals should be moved directly from the establishment of origin to the destination. By way of derogation, they may be assembled in establishments approved by the competent authority (Article 94(1) of Regulation (EU) 2016/429 (AHL)).

Operators can only move poultry and hatching eggs to another Member State if they comply with:

  • for poultry the general requirements laid down in Article 124 to 129 of Regulation (EU) 2016/429;
  • for hatching eggs the general requirements laid down in Article 157 of Regulation (EU) 2016/429;
  • the specific requirements for poultry laid down in Article 130 to 132 of Regulation (EU) 2016/429;
  • the supplementary requirements laid down in the following articles of Regulation (EU) 2020/688
  • Additional requirements laid down in Article 42 of Regulation (EU) 2020/688 when the poultry or the hatching eggs are moved to a Member State or zone thereof with the status free from infection with Newcastle disease virus without vaccination (Member States or zones with these free status are listed in Annex X to Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2021/620).

An animal health certificate (Regulation (EU) 2021/403) in which, prior to dispatch, an official veterinarian attests that the animals fulfil all the requirements for movements between Member States has to be created in the TRACES system.

Operators can create this document by themselves, in order to present it to the official veterinarian. The certificate accompanies the animals during the whole transport. More information about the TRACES database is available here.

At destination (Art 127 of Regulation (EU) 2016/429 (AHL))

Operators of establishments and slaughterhouses receiving kept terrestrial animals from another Member State must check the animals, their correct identification and if documentation is complete. If they perceive any irregularity, they have to inform the competent authority of the place of destination. In this case animals must be isolated until the competent authority advises how to proceed.

Because there are no border controls for movements between the Member States, non-discriminatory spot checks are carried out en-route and at the destination according to the Regulation (EU) 2017/625 on official controls (OCR)). Those checks help to ensure that consignments are in compliance with the guarantees provided by the animal health certificate.

Entry into the EU

Animal health

Poultry and hatching eggs must fulfil the animal health requirements laid down in Regulation (EU) 2016/429 of the European Parliament and of the Council (‘Animal Health Law’). Part V (Articles 229 to 243) of that Regulation establishes the general animal health conditions for the entry into the EU of poultry and hatching eggs.

The objective of this harmonisation is to make sure that the same animal health principles for entry into the EU are applied in all the Member States and prevent from entering the EU of the animals or germinal products carrying infectious diseases that are dangerous for livestock or humans.

The general animal health requirements on which entry into the EU is based and the requirements for a non-EU country to be authorised for entry into the EU are based on:

  • the health status of livestock, of other animals and wildlife;
  • the legislation of the non-EU country;
  • the country's rules on the prevention and control of animal diseases;
  • the organisation, structure, competence and power of the veterinary services;
  • membership of the World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH);
  • the regularity and rapidity of information on infectious animal diseases provided by the non-EU country to the Commission and the OIE.

Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2020/692 lays down specific animal health requirements for non-EU countries supplementing the measures laid down in Part II of the AHL. These include i.e. freedom from diseases (Newcastle disease or avian influenza), residency periods in the country of origin, requirements for establishments of origin, health requirements for the animals/germinal products and certification.

For consignments with less than 20 units (animals or hatching eggs) a derogation applies (Art. 49 of Delegated Regulation (EU) 2020/692).

It is possible to regionalise a country. This means that depending on the animal health situation and the guarantees offered by that country, only a part of its territory may be authorised for entry into the EU.

Authorised countries ('listed countries')

Based on the principles contained in the animal health law (Regulation (EU) 2016/429), on the specific requirements in Delegated Regulation (EU) 2020/692 and on the results of Commission’s audit carried out to verify that all the criteria are properly fulfilled, the non-EU country may be authorised for the entry into the EU of poultry or germinal products thereof. This requires inclusion on the list of non-EU countries or territories, or zones thereof established in Annex V to Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2021/404.

Disease assessment

Once listed in Implementing Regulation (EU) 2021/404, a non-EU country or territory, or zone thereof is approved in principle for entry into the EU. However, before entry into the Union of poultry or hatching eggs, further steps are necessary: An assessment of the specific disease situation and, accordingly, additional requirements to minimise potential disease risks are set. These are laid down in Parts 3 and 4 of Annex V to Implementing Regulation (EU) 2021/404, and include: specific conditions depending on the health status of the non-EU country in relation to highly pathogenic avian influenza or Newcastle disease.

If additional requirements are necessary, the official veterinarian in the exporting non-EU country must ensure that the relevant sections in the animal health or animal health/official certificate are completed.

Official certificates

An animal health or animal health/official certificate must accompany poultry and hatching eggs being presented for entry into the EU. The relevant models of those certificates are laid down in Article 17 and Chapters 22 to 32 of Annex II to Implementing Regulation (EU) 2021/403.

Available model animal health or animal health/official certificates for entry into the EU of:

  • specified pathogen-free eggs model SPF,
  • breeding poultry other than ratites and productive poultry other than ratites model BPP,
  • breeding ratites and productive ratites model BRP,
  • day-old-chicks other than ratites model DOC,
  • day-old-chicks of ratites model DOR,
  • poultry intended for slaughter other than ratites model SP,
  • ratites intended for slaughter model SR,
  • less than 20 heads of poultry other than ratites model POU-LT20,
  • hatching eggs of poultry other than ratites model HEP,
  • hatching eggs of ratites model HER,
  • less than 20 hatching eggs of poultry other than ratites model HE-LT20.

Basic information on the non-EU country of origin, the place of destination and the identification of animals in the establishment must be included in the animal health or animal health/official certificate. It also contains an attestation to guarantee that the non-EU country complies with certain public health requirements including that the animals are from holdings that are free from certain zoonotic diseases (as Salmonella monitoring) and have not received certain pharmaceutical treatments and hormones.

An official veterinarian in the authorised non-EU country has to sign the animal health or animal health/official certificate to attest that all the relevant conditions in the certificate are met. The certification must accompany the animals and germinal products en route to the EU and presented at entry into the EU in an approved EU Border Control Post.

Border inspections

Live animals and hatching eggs entering the Union are inspected at a Border Control Post. Regulation (EU) 2019/2130 provides detailed rules for official controls at Border Control Posts on animals entering the Union from non-EU countries.
Animals or hatching eggs which do not comply with the Union's health requirements cannot enter or transit the Union.