1. To advise importers of poultry and game birds of a stricter application of documentary procedures in order to limit and control the risk of the spread of avian influenza to Great Britain.


2. Avian influenza of subtype H5N1 has been identified so far in 9 Member States of the EU. If the avian influenza virus were to be introduced to Great Britain by an import of poultry, it would be vital to immediately identify it, isolate it, and trace every possible infectious contact. A complete and accurate health certificate is an essential first step.

3. The Poultry Trade Directive 90/539/EEC states that each consignment of poultry from an EU member state must be accompanied by a single health certificate specifying a single final destination. The poultry (including hatching eggs and game birds) must be conveyed directly to the establishment of destination without coming into contact with other poultry, except those that are similarly certified.

4. In cases where the import is arranged by an agent, it has sometimes happened that the destination address has been given as the agent's business address rather than the actual farm or hatchery of destination. This can lead to delay or confusion if it is necessary to carry out urgent tracing exercises.

5. It has also happened that agents have imported consignments of poultry which have been split and sent to several different destinations in Great Britain. In this case the condition of requiring a separate health certificate for each destination is not complied with.

6. The ITAHC health certificate provides for 2 separate receiving addresses in Great Britain. Box 1.5. specifies the consignee, who may be either the direct purchaser or an organising agent. Box 1.13 specifies the place of destination, which must be the farm or hatchery to which the poultry are physically delivered.

Action for Importers

7. Importers must ensure that their suppliers are instructed to provide a separate health certificate for each destination address.

8. Importers must ensure that their suppliers are instructed to specify the destination address of the farm or hatchery to which their poultry are physically delivered in box 1.13 of the ITAHC health certificate.

Further Information

9. Importers are reminded that it is a statutory requirement under the Diseases of Poultry Order 2003 that any person who keeps more than 250 poultry they must keep accurate records of all movements of poultry onto or off their premises. The record may be in written or electronic form, and must be kept for at least 12 months after the movement.

10. Divisional Veterinary Managers (DVMs) will be arranging for documentary, physical and identity checks in accordance with Directive 90/425/EEC on consignments of imported poultry, during which the correct address of the consignee and the actual destination address must be checked. Any errors will constitute an offence under the Animals and Animal Products (Import and Export)(England) Regulations 2005, and their equivalent in Scotland and Wales.

International Animal Health Division, Import Policy Branch


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