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Veterinary and zootechnical checks of animals and products in trade within the EU

This summary has been archived and will not be updated. See 'Health rules for movement and trade of horses' , 'Enforcing EU rules for the agri-food chain' for an updated information about the subject.

Veterinary and zootechnical checks of animals and products in trade within the EU



Directive 90/425/EEC — veterinary and zootechnical checks applicable in intra-EU trade in certain live animals and products


It lays down rules relating to veterinary* and zootechnical checks* to be applied to live animals and certain products traded within the EU.

It abolishes veterinary (and zootechnical checks) at the EU’s internal borders, replacing them instead by checks carried out at the place of origin, during transit and at the place of destination.

Regulation (EU) 2016/1012 has changed the title of the directive and removed references to zootechnical checks. It takes effect from 1 November 2018.

Regulation (EU) 2017/625 repeals Directive 90/425/EEC, with effect from 14 December 2019.


Live animals, hatching eggs, germinal products, products of animal origin

The directive and its subsequent amendments deal with veterinary and zootechnical checks applicable to trade within the EU in live animals and products (hatching eggs, germinal products*, products of animal origin) covered by EU legislation.

It does not apply to the non-commercial movement of pet animals accompanied by individuals.

Checks at origin

In the EU country of origin, the competent authority must ensure, among other things, that the animals and products for trade:

  • meet the requirements of the relevant directives listed in Annex A of the directive (for the animals and products in Annex A, e.g. Directive 88/407/EEC) and comply with the animal-health requirements of the EU country of destination (for the animals and products in Annex B, e.g. live poultry);
  • come from holdings, centres or organisations which are subject to regular official veterinary checks;
  • are identified and registered in accordance with the requirements of EU law;
  • are accompanied by health certificates and other appropriate documents during transport;
  • do not originate from holdings or regions which are subject to restrictions applying to those animals or products because of the suspicion or existence of certain diseases;
  • come from a country or region offering sufficient health guarantees from the point of view of the country of destination;
  • are transported in accordance with the hygiene rules in force.

Additionally, in the EU, the competent authority must carry out checks in holdings, markets and assembly centres to verify that the live animals and products meet EU standards, especially as regards identification. Suppliers of animals or products or consignors (those responsible for preparing the transport of the animals and products) which fail to comply with these rules face sanctions.

Checks on arrival at destination

Non-discriminatory veterinary spot checks may be carried out by competent authorities at places of destination. The purpose of those checks is to verify that the animals and products intended for trade comply with the requirements which must be met by the place of origin (see above). If an infringement is suspected, checks may be carried out during transport.

The consignees of animals and products dispatched from another EU country are responsible for those animals and products upon their arrival at the destination and afterwards, once the transport operation is completed. This applies, for example, to animals intended for markets. Consignees may be required to report in advance to the competent authority of the EU country of destination the arrival of animals or products from another EU country.

Where the EU requires it or, in areas which have not yet been harmonised, national rules which comply with the EU Treaty require that live animals be placed in quarantine, this quarantine must normally take place at the holding of destination.

Checks at ports, airports and border inspection posts with non-EU countries

Checks may be carried out at the places where live animals and products from non-EU countries may be brought into EU territory, such as ports, airports and frontier posts with non-EU countries. During the checks, EU countries must ensure that the following measures are taken:

  • certificates or documents accompanying the animals or products are verified;
  • EU animals or products are subject to the non-discriminatory veterinary spot checks at the place of destination;
  • animals from non-EU countries are subject to the rules provided for in Directive 91/496/EEC and in Directive 97/78/EC.

When, during a check, the competent authorities establish:

  • the presence of agents responsible for a notifiable disease, a zoonosis* or disease, or any cause likely to constitute a serious hazard to animals or humans, or that the products come from a region contaminated by an epizootic disease*, they must order that the animal or consignment of animals be put in quarantine at the nearest quarantine station or slaughtered and/or destroyed.
  • that the animals or products do not meet the conditions laid down by EU directives or by national animal-health rules, various measures may be taken, including maintenance of the animals or products under supervision, return of the consignment, slaughter or destruction.

Common provisions

If there is an outbreak of a zoonosis, animal disease or any other risk to animal or human health, the EU country of dispatch must take the appropriate preventive and control measures, including restrictions on movement if the risk is serious. The EU country of destination or transit may take precautionary measures such as quarantining. The European Commission must examine the situation at the earliest opportunity and then decide on the appropriate action.

EU countries must ensure that dealers who engage in intra-EU trade in the animals and/or products concerned keep a record of deliveries and of the subsequent destination of the animals and products.

In 2004, the Commission put in place a computerised network for linking veterinary authorities, the TRACES system.

On 1 July 1992, veterinary and zootechnical checks at the EU’s internal borders on all live animals and their products were abolished, in the light of the progress made in relation to checks on animals from non-EU countries and the measures taken to control foot-and-mouth disease and classical swine fever.


It has applied since 26 July 1990. EU countries had to incorporate it into national law by 1 July 1992, except for the rules in Article 10 (on the outbreak of diseases) which had to be incorporated by 26 September 1990.


Veterinary checks: any physical check (and/or administrative formality) of animals or products which is intended for the protection, direct or otherwise, of public or animal health.
Zootechnical checks: any physical and/or administrative formality which applies to the animals covered by the zootechnical legislation and which is intended for the direct or indirect improvement of the breeds.
Germinal products: semen, oocytes and embryos intended for artificial reproduction.
Zoonosis: a disease which can be transmitted to humans from animals.
Epizootic disease: a disease that affects a large number of animals within a short period of time.


Council Directive 90/425/EEC of 26 June 1990 concerning veterinary and zootechnical checks applicable in intra- Community trade in certain live animals and products with a view to the completion of the internal market (OJ L 224, 18.8.1990, pp. 29-41)

Successive amendments to Directive 90/425/EEC have been incorporated into the original document. This consolidated version is of documentary value only.


Regulation (EU) 2017/625 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 March 2017 on official controls and other official activities performed to ensure the application of food and feed law, rules on animal health and welfare, plant health and plant protection products, amending Regulations (EC) No 999/2001, (EC) No 396/2005, (EC) No 1069/2009, (EC) No 1107/2009, (EU) No 1151/2012, (EU) No 652/2014, (EU) 2016/429 and (EU) 2016/2031 of the European Parliament and of the Council, Council Regulations (EC) No 1/2005 and (EC) No 1099/2009 and Council Directives 98/58/EC, 1999/74/EC, 2007/43/EC, 2008/119/EC and 2008/120/EC, and repealing Regulations (EC) No 854/2004 and (EC) No 882/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council, Council Directives 89/608/EEC, 89/662/EEC, 90/425/EEC, 91/496/EEC, 96/23/EC, 96/93/EC and 97/78/EC and Council Decision 92/438/EEC (Official Controls Regulation) (OJ L 95, 7.4.2017, pp. 1-142)

See consolidated version.

Regulation (EU) 2016/1012 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 8 June 2016 on zootechnical and genealogical conditions for the breeding, trade in and entry into the Union of purebred breeding animals, hybrid breeding pigs and the germinal products thereof and amending Regulation (EU) No 652/2014, Council Directives 89/608/EEC and 90/425/EEC and repealing certain acts in the area of animal breeding (‘Animal Breeding Regulation’) (OJ L 171, 29.6.2016, pp. 66-143)

Commission Decision 2003/623/EC of 19 August 2003 concerning the development of an integrated computerised veterinary system known as Traces (OJ L 216, 28.8.2003, pp. 58-59)

Council Directive 97/78/EC of 18 December 1997 laying down the principles governing the organisation of veterinary checks on products entering the Community from third countries (OJ L 24, 30.1.1998, pp. 9-30)

See consolidated version.

Council Directive 91/496/EEC of 15 July 1991 laying down the principles governing the organization of veterinary checks on animals entering the Community from third countries and amending Directives 89/662/EEC, 90/425/EEC and 90/675/EEC (OJ L 268, 24.9.1991, pp. 56-68)

See consolidated version.

last update 05.02.2018