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Summaries of EU Legislation

TRACES system

The TRACES system is a management tool for tracking the movement of animals and products of animal origin from both outside of the European Union and within its territory. This system consolidates and simplifies the existing systems. It is a major innovation in improving the management of animal diseases and for reducing the administrative formalities which weigh down the economic operators and competent authorities.


Commission Decision 2003/623/EC of 19 August 2003 concerning the development of an integrated computerised veterinary system known as TRACES.


The trade control and expert system ( TRA de Control and Expert System – TRACES) created a single central database for monitoring the movements of animals and products of animal origin both within the European Union (EU) and those coming from outside of the EU.


The main features of TRACES are:

  • electronic transmission of information;
  • centralised management of the statutory reference data;
  • interoperability with other information systems;
  • multilingualism.


The aims of the TRACES system are as follows to:

  • improve the quantity and quality of information on animal movements;
  • improve the exchange of information between the national and European authorities;
  • provide a system of electronic veterinary certificates which enables commercial operations to obtain information on-line;
  • produce lists of establishments from countries outside of the EU which are authorised to export products of animal origin to the EU;
  • manage consignments rejected at EU borders;
  • target controls on public and animal health and animal welfare (particularly during their transport, etc.);
  • centralise the evaluation of potential risks of an epidemic;
  • overcome linguistic difficulties by making information from other countries more accessible;
  • integrate all the operators concerned by putting in place a system for implementing operations related to exchanging documents between economic operators and competent authorities.


Economic operators may be integrated into TRACES, subject to being registered by the competent authority to which they are linked. When they wish to transport animals, they must fill in an electronic form in a standardised format which contains all the appropriate information concerning the animal or product of animal origin, the destination and any stages.

In the case of intra-European trade in animals or products of animal origin, the information will be forwarded to the competent authority of the Member State of origin. After having checked the content of the form, the authority may reject or validate the transport. Where appropriate, it will issue the health certificate and the route plan relating to the animals' welfare in the official languages of the Member State of origin and of destination. The private operator may only carry out the transport if they have received authorisation.

In the case of import or transit of animals or products of animal origin from outside of the EU, it is the official at the border inspection post who checks the animals or products and the veterinary import documents is responsible for entering the relevant information in the TRACES database, including the decision on whether to grant entry or refuse access to EU territory, and for issuing a Common Veterinary Entry Document (CVED).

All this information is sent to the veterinary authority of the Member State of destination, to the central veterinary authority of the country or countries of transit and to all appropriate control points. It can then be consulted during checks carried out en route and/or at the destination. This information may also be consulted by the economic operators registered in the database. The system is available to users free of charge.


The TRACES system replaces several previously separate systems, notably ANIMO and SHIFT. ANIMO was established to monitor the movements of live animals and to exchange information between the national and Community authorities. In order to improve the health security of imported animals and products of animal origin from outside of the EU, an information system called SHIFT was established. SHIFT was composed of two other systems: the SML system for generating list of establishments authorised to export to the EU and the RCS system for managing the consignments refused entry at the EU border. Replacing these different systems with the single TRACES system will avoid duplication, whilst also simplifying the monitoring of animal movements and making it more efficient.

The European Commission is responsible for controlling the TRACES system, for developing and maintaining it, whereas the ANIMO system was based on a contract between the Member States and a private company. The Court of Auditors asked the Commission to take on this responsibility in the wake of problems encountered during the classical swine fever crisis in 1997.



Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Decision 2003/623/EC



OJ L 216, 28.08.2003

See also

  • Website of the Directorate-General for “Health and Consumer”, TRACES

Last updated: 29.06.2011