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Imports and Exports

This page provides information and guidance on importing and exporting live honey and bumble bees.

For guidance on other products of bee origin, please see:  and

The UK has left the EU, new rules from January 2021

The ‘Guidance Notes for Importers’ provides details to English and Welsh beekeepers on what you need to do to comply with the legislation and health certification requirements if you wish to import live bees after 31 December 2020.

The Scottish Bee Health Inspectorate has produced guidance for imports of honey bees for Scottish beekeepers

You may also find it useful to refer to guidance on and the Border Operating Model, which provides information on the new processes.

For movements both ways between Northern Ireland and GB, guidance may be found in the Northern Ireland Protocol.

If you are planning to import or export bees it is your responsibility to follow these new rules and protect GB biosecurity. General Guidance on changes for businesses and citizens may be found at

FAQ - Imports

These questions only deal with Honey Bees (Apis mellifera) and Bumble Bees.

What can I import from the EU?
Queen Bees with up to 20 attendants.
Bumble Bees

What can’t I import from the EU?
Packages/Nucleus/Full Colony

Who must I notify if I want to import queens?
All imports must be notified via the Import of Products, Animals, Food and Feed Service, (IPAFFS),

Which Commodity Code should I use?

What information do I need to provide to the exporter?
The IPAFFS system issues a Unique Reference Number which should be included on the Health Certificate issued by the exporting country.

What Certification is required?
You must ensure that each consignment is accompanied by a health certificate which has been obtained from the relevant competent authority. A copy of this certificate needs to be uploaded to the IPAFFS system prior to the import. Model certificates can be downloaded from

Do my Queens have to come into the country through a specific port of entry?
Until July 2022 imports of bees do not need to come through an approved Border Control Post.
From July 2022 all live animal imports must enter via a Border Control Post approved to accept that commodity. Currently Heathrow and Manchester airports are approved to accept invertebrates.

What happens if my documentation / certificate is missing or incorrect?
If any import is found to be non-compliant it will either be returned to the country of origin or destroyed. This also applies if an import fails to enter through a BCP from July 2022.

My imports were previously occasionally checked by a Bee Inspector so will this continue?
Yes, Bee Inspectors will continue to carry out risk-based checks at the place of import using the address provided in the IPAFFS notification process. If contacted by an Inspector, you must hold the consignment until it is released by the Inspector.

Can I use the queen cage provided by the exporter to introduce my Queens?
No, upon receipt the queen must be transferred to a new cage.
Send the original cages, attendant worker bees and other material that accompanied the queen bees from their country of origin to

In England and Wales: RM 02G06 Fera Science Ltd York Biotech Campus, Sand Hutton, York YO41 1LZ
In Scotland: Bee Health – Imports, SASA, Roddinglaw Road, Edinburgh, EH12 9FJ

within 5 days of receipt for examination for the presence of notifiable pests and diseases. Please include your name, address, contact number and the IPAFFS - Unique Reference Number with the parcel. Please ensure they are suitably packed for the postal service.

Do the attendant bees need to be dead before I send them to be checked?
No, upon receipt your parcel will be frozen. Please ensure that they are securely packed and cannot escape.

Is there a charge for this service?
There are currently no charges for post import checks.
When Bees arrive through a Border Control Post (BCP) then the costs of the checks carried out on imports of live animals from third countries are recovered from the importer under the provisions of the official control regulations. To find out how much the BCP checks cost, you should contact the relevant BCP. Contact details of the BCP can be found at


If you intend to take bees from the UK, you must ensure you are able to export your bees to the country of destination and that you can comply with their import conditions. It is your responsibility to do this.

To export bees to another country please complete the application to export form and return it to the NBU office . This should be accompanied by the import conditions for the country of destination. Your request will then be processed and a local inspector will be in touch to arrange an inspection (if required). Assuming the inspection is clear of the specified pests and diseases, and the apiary meets the requirements of the health certification, the office can then produce the health certificate that must travel with the bees. There may be a limit on the length of time the certificate is valid for (for example for exports to the EU, the certificate is only valid for 10 days). Some countries may require the certificate is signed by an official veterinarian: please ensure that the NBU is aware of this when submitting the form.

If you export your bees without the correct certification, the consignment may be rejected/destroyed by the exporting country. If the consignment required an inspection prior to export, we would not be able to issue a certificate retrospectively.

Fireblight Disease – Movement Restrictions

If you are intending to move bees to an EU Member State, you should familiarise yourself with the restrictions that apply between 15 March and 30 June related to Fireblight disease; a serious notifiable disease of apples, pears and other related trees and shrubs in the Rosaceae family.

FAQ Exports

Can I export bees to the EU?
Only queen bees can be exported. The exporter needs to comply with the regulations in the receiving country. Export Health Certificates can be arranged by contacting the NBU.

Can I send bees to Northern Ireland?
Only queen bees can be exported to Northern Ireland. Sending queens to Northern Ireland is treated as an export and requires an Export Health Certificate. Please contact the NBU to arrange for a certificate to be issued.

Additionally, the exporter should follow the animal specific process as set out in DAERA guidance:

and guidance on prenotification to NI on TRACES NT here:

Further Information

Parker, A. (2021) Honey Bee Imports into GB - Article Published in Bee Farmers Magazine describes the IPAFFS process in detail.

Flow chart showing process for imports EU to GB

Flow chart showing Nortern Ireland protocol: movement of bees from GB to NI - queens only

Last Changed - 10/12/2021