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Intra-EU trade in poultry and hatching eggs

This summary has been archived and will not be updated. See 'The EU’s Animal Health Law' for an updated information about the subject.

Intra-EU trade in poultry and hatching eggs



Directive 2009/158/EC on animal health conditions governing intra-Community trade in, and imports from non-EU countries of, poultry and hatching eggs


It sets out animal health requirements for live poultry and their hatching eggs when these are traded between European Union countries or imported from a non-EU country into the EU to prevent the entry and spread of infection of poultry.


  • The directive applies to:
    • poultry more than 72 hours old (including fowl, turkey, guinea fowl, duck, geese, quail, pigeon, pheasant, partridge and ostriches) which are kept for breeding or the production of meat or eggs or for re-stocking supplies of game for hunting purposes;
    • day-old chicks, defined as poultry which are less than 72 hours old and not yet fed; though muscovy ducks may be fed as an exception;
    • hatching eggs for incubation.
  • The directive does not cover birds intended for exhibition, showing or competition.
  • Live poultry and hatching eggs can only be traded within the EU, when they come from establishments that:
    • satisfy the strict hygiene conditions set out in the directive;
    • apply an approved disease surveillance programme, including veterinary inspections and the reporting of suspected disease;
    • keep a flock record for up to 2 years.
  • Rearing must follow as far as possible the ‘all-in/all-out’ principle, with cleansing and disinfection after depopulation of each flock and restocking with new poultry.
  • Eggs must be collected at least daily and as soon as possible after laying eggs, cleaned and disinfected, and placed in new or clean and disinfected packaging material. Hatcheries must be separate from rearing facilities.
  • Hatching eggs must come from flocks which have been held for more than 6 weeks in approved establishments and must be disinfected.
  • Day-old chicks must have been hatched from hatching eggs satisfying the above conditions, with no suspicion of disease.
  • Breeding poultry must have been held since hatching or for at least 6 weeks in approved establishments, must satisfy vaccination conditions and must undergo veterinary examination during the 48 hours preceding consignment (i.e. before selection for dispatch).
  • Slaughter poultry and poultry intended for restocking supplies of wild game must come from a holding where they have been held since hatching or for more than 21 days and which is not subject to health restrictions. The flock must undergo veterinary examination during the 5 days (48 hours for game) preceding dispatch.
  • Less stringent requirements apply to consignments of poultry and hatching eggs of fewer than 20 units.
  • The transportation of poultry and hatching eggs must comply with specific conditions relating to the containers and vehicles used. The consignments must be accompanied by a veterinary certificate signed by an official veterinarian.
  • Poultry and hatching eggs may only be imported into the EU from approved countries with health conditions at least equivalent to those in the EU, such as compulsory notification of avian influenza and Newcastle disease.
  • To ensure that the directive is correctly applied, on-the-spot audits are carried out by veterinary experts from EU countries and the European Commission.
  • In managing the animal health requirements applicable to the trade and import of poultry and hatching eggs laid down in this directive, the Commission is assisted by the Standing Committee on Plants, Animals, Food and Feed.
  • The directive will be repealed and replaced by Regulation (EU) 2016/429 with effect from 20 April 2021.


It has applied since 1 January 2010. It codified Council Directive 90/539/EEC on animal health conditions governing intra-EU trade in, and imports from non-EU countries of, poultry and hatching eggs.


Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2020/466 of 30 March 2020 on temporary measures to contain risks to human, animal and plant health and animal welfare during certain serious disruptions of Member States’ control systems due to coronavirus disease (COVID-19)


Council Directive 2009/158/EC of 30 November 2009 on animal health conditions governing intra-Community trade in, and imports from third countries of, poultry and hatching eggs (OJ L 343, 22.12.2009, pp. 74-113)

Successive amendments to Council Directive 2009/158/EC have been incorporated in the basic text. This consolidated version is for reference purpose only.


Commission Regulation (EC) No 798/2008 of 8 August 2008 laying down a list of third countries, territories, zones or compartments from which poultry and poultry products may be imported into and transit through the Community and the veterinary certification requirements (OJ L 226, 23.8.2008, pp. 1-94)

See consolidated version

Regulation (EU) 2016/429 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 9 March 2016 on transmissible animal diseases and amending and repealing certain acts in the area of animal health (‘Animal Health Law’) (OJ L 84, 31.3.2016, pp. 1-208)

last update 04.05.2020