Answers to our most frequently asked questions on importing ornamental aquatic species can be found below.
- Who needs to register as an ornamental importer?
- Where do I apply to be placed on the register of ornamental importers?
- What do I need to do to import ornamental fish into Ireland from the EU?
- What is the difference between tropical and cold water fish?
- What is meant by Closed, Open, Commerical & Private facilities?
- What health certificate do I need to import my ornamental fish?
- I wish to import ornamental aquatic animals from outside the European Community
- I am moving to Ireland and I wish to bring my pet gold fish with me.
- I am importing coral, do I need to apply to the Marine Institute?
- Can I import genetically modified (GM) ornamental fish such as GloFish®?
- Can I import ornamental crayfish?
- I am buying fish from an establishment in Northern Ireland, do I still need to apply?
- Do I need to pay a fee to register?
- What can I do if my username and password do not work?
- What if I am getting cold water fish which are part of a larger consignment destined for another country?
- Where can I find more information on EU fish health legislative requirements in relation to ornamental trade
Q. Who needs to register as an ornamental importer?
If you are importing ornamental fish, molluscs or crustaceans either for your business or for your personal hobby, you must first register with the Marine Institute as an Ornamental Importer. This is a legal requirement.
Q. Where do I apply to be placed on the register of ornamental importers?
In order to import ornamental aquaculture animals, you must register with the Marine Institute as an ornamental importer. To register, apply online at:
This registration is a once off requirement which you will not need to complete again, unless you change address.
Once your application to register has been reviewed and approved by the Marine Institute, you will receive an email outlining the conditions of registration, along with your unique registration number.
In addition to registration, you must also notify* the Marine Institute of all imports of ornamental fish, molluscs or crustaceans at least 24 hours before the consignment is due to leave the site of origin. The only exception to this is when bringing tropical fish into Ireland from another EU country.
*your login details to apply to import ornamental species via our website should be issued to you automatically once you have applied to be placed on the ornamental register. If you have not received a login please contact email@example.com.
Q. What do I need to do to import ornamental fish into Ireland from the EU?
All ornamental importers must register with the Marine Institute and, if bringing in cold water fish from the EU, will also need to submit an application to import and health certification at least 24 hours before the consignment departs from the source.
To do this, login onto www.fishhealth.ie using the username and password supplied to you during the registration process. If you have not yet received login details please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are importing TROPICAL fish from within the EU, you do NOT need to apply to the Marine Institute to import your consignment. You are still required however, to register with the Marine Institute as an Importer of Ornamental fish.
If you are importing tropical and cold water fish, an application is required for the coldwater part of the consignment.
In summary, a movement of live ornamental fish/molluscs/crustaceans to Ireland from within the EU
- The importer must be registered with the Marine Institute
- And if coldwater species -
- The importer must give at least 24 hours advance notification to the MI.
- Must be accompanied by appropriate Health Certificate(s)
NB: Due to the United Kingdom's exit from the European Union, they are now classified as a third-country since 1st January 2021. Therefore third-country rules apply for imports from Great Britain (excluding Northern Ireland) and health certification must be provided for both tropical and coldwater fish.
Q. What is the difference between tropical and cold water fish?
Tropical species are defined for the purpose of these regulations as ornamental aquatic animals which are held in heated aquaria and which are not capable of surviving in the natural aquatic environment.
Cold-water ornamental fish/molluscs/crustaceans are species which could potentially survive in natural waters in Ireland, and therefore pose a higher risk of spreading aquatic disease. As there is no way to guarantee that imports of coldwater ornamentals will remain in closed systems, all imports of fish which are susceptible to or vectors of the diseases listed here, must be certified as though they are destined for an open facility.
Q. What is meant by Closed, Open, Commercial & Private?
Closed Facility: A closed facility is defined as a holding facility without any direct contact with natural waters of the Community or one which is equipped with an effluent treatment system which is capable of killing fish pathogens.
Open Facility: An open facility is defined as anything other than a closed facility.
Commercial Facility: A commercial facility is one where aquatic animals are sold to a third party. According to S.I. 261 of 2008, to "sell" includes: offering, exposing or keeping for sale; inviting an offer to buy; or distributing for reward or otherwise.
Private Facility: A holding facility where ornamental fish are kept for the owners private personal use.
Q. What health certificate do I need to import my ornamental fish?
All imports of live aquatic animals into the European Community must be certified in accordance with Commission Regulation 1251/2008/EC.
Consignments of coldwater ornamental fish from another EU Member State
See Commission Regulation (EC) No 1251/2008, Annex II, Part A, as amended
Consignments of tropical ornamental fish from another EU Member State
Certification is not required
Consignments of coldwater or mixed (i.e. coldwater and tropical) ornamental fish from outside the EU
Commission Regulation (EC) No. 1251/2008, Annex IV, Part A, as amended
Consignments of tropical ornamental fish from outside the EU
Commission Regulation (EC) No. 1251/2008, Annex IV, Part B is sufficient
they can also be imported on Commission regulation (EC) No. 1251/2008, Annex IV, Part A e.g. as part of a mixed consignment
Imports of species which are either susceptible to or vectors of the diseases listed here must be certified as if they are destined for an open facility and must originate from an area that has been declared free from those diseases
Q I wish to import ornamental aquatic animals from outside the European Community
To comply with Fish Health legislation when importing live ornamental fish/molluscs/crustaceans from outside of EU:
- The importer must be registered with the Marine institute
- The importer must give at least 24 hours advance notification to the MI.
- The consignment must enter the EU at a Border Control Post suitable for live fish
- It must come from an EU or OIE listed third country
- It must be accompanied by appropriate Health Certificate(s) and CHED-A
Please find more detailed information on each of these requirements outlined below:
(i) The importer must be registered with the Marine institute
Before you import ornamental species, you must first register with the Marine Institute as an ornamental importer.
Once your application has been approved, you will receive a confirmation email along with your unique registration number.
You will also be issued login information for www.fishhealth.ie so that you can submit import applications online.
(ii) The importer must give at least 24 hours advance notification to the MI.
You must notify the Marine Institute of an ornamental import at least 24 hours before it departs the country of origin.
This is done by submitting an ornamental import application online using the login information you receive upon registration.
(iii) Consignment must enter the EU through a Border Control Post (BCP) suitable for live fish
Border Control Posts (BCPs) are European Union approved entry points for plants, animals, animal products, food etc. which originate from countries outside the EU (often referred to as "third countries").
All imports of live fish and shellfish must enter the European Community through a Border Control Post which can accept live fish.
Imports must be pre-notified to the BCP at least 24 hours prior to arrival through the creation of a Common Health Entry Document for Animals (CHED-A) on the European Union's TRACES NT system. Access to this system in Ireland is administered by the Department of Agriculture, Food & the Marine.
The following BCPs on the island of Ireland are certified to accept live fish:
- Ports: Dublin, Rosslare, Larne & Belfast
- Airports: Dublin & Belfast International
Commonly used BCPs in continental Europe for imports of live ornamental fish are Frankfurt/Main, and occasionally Amsterdam Schiphol & Zurich Airports.
Lists of EU veterinary border control posts along with their contact details can be accessed here.
(iv) Must come from a European Union or OIE listed third-country
Imports to the European Union must come from either:
- an EU-approved “third-country” i.e. those countries listed in Annex III of Commission Regulation 1251/2008/EC, as amended
- any other country which is a member of the OIE
(v) Must be accompanied by Appropriate Health Certificates and CHED-As
In order to comply with relevant European & Irish legislation, any third-country imports of ornamental fish incl. tropical species must:
- comply with Commission Regulation 1251/2008/EC, as amended;
- be accompanied by a health certificate to the European Union (see Annex IV of the above regulation);
- be pre-notified to the EU Border Control Post of first arrival. This is done through the creation of a Common Health Entry Document for Animals (CHED-A).
- Consideration should also be given to other factors such as customs clearance and import duties, which are outside the remit of the Marine Institute
Tropical species may enter with a health certificate for closed ornamental systems (Annex IV part B) but coldwater species or mixed consignments must enter with a health certificate for open ornamental facilities (Annex IV Part A). Health certificates should be written in the language spoken at the BCP, or in English.
A sample CHED-A can be found in Annex II, Part 2, Section A of Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2019/1715 as amended. Part 1 of the CHED-A must be completed electronically at least 24 hours in advance of the import so that the BCP of first arrival is notified. This can be completed by the importer, the supplier or an agent and is submitted on the European Union's TRACES NT system.
You should contact your supplier to ensure they are aware of the correct health certification requirements for entry into Ireland. Further information on these requirements can be found on our website here.
Q. I am moving to Ireland and I wish to bring my pet goldfish with me.
Ireland has a higher health status than many other countries for the diseases goldfish are susceptible to. Therefore, it is incumbent on us to ensure all fish entering the country will not jeopardise our existing fish health status.
Exemptions to this may apply from time to time, where a small number (5 or less) of pet fish are being relocated from one EU Member State and they are destined for a biosecure holding facility. Contact the Marine Institute for more details at email@example.com. Regardless of the type of ornamental import, you will still be required to register with the Marine Institute.
Q. I am importing coral, do I need to apply to the Marine Institute?
No. The fish health regulations only apply to:
For all other imports of aquatic animals for ornamental purposes, the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) should be contacted. To import endangered species, or to check if the species is on the CITES endangered list, you should contact National Parks and Wildlife service to apply for a CITES import permit.
DAFM: +353 (0)1 607 2000; www.agriculture.gov.ie
NPWS: +353 (0)1 888 3242; www.npws.ie/licences/import-export-trade/cites
Q. Can I import genetically modified (GM) ornamental fish such as GloFish®?
The import or sale of genetically modified (GM) ornamental fish is currently illegal in the European Union, including Ireland. This includes GM varieties of Zebrafish (Danio rerio) which are commonly known as GloFish®.
The state agency responsible for the regulation of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) in Ireland is the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Further information regarding the illegal import of GM Zebrafish can be found on their website.
If you suspect that GM ornamental fish are being sold in Ireland, you should notify the EPA.
Q. Can I import ornamental crayfish?
Yes, there are many species of crayfish and other crustaceans which may be imported for ornamental purposes.
However, under regulations introduced in 2018, it is illegal to import, keep, breed, transport, sell, exchange, or release to the environment, certain species of invasive freshwater crayfish.
The following species of freshwater crayfish are prohibited:
Red swamp crayfish
Procambarus fallax f. virginalis
Q. I am buying fish from an establishment in Northern Ireland, do I still need to apply?
Yes. While Northern Ireland continues to operate under EU animal health rules post-Brexit, nevertheless it is still part of the United Kingdom and is a separate regulatory jurisdiction to Ireland. As such, any movements of live fish coming from Northern Ireland are classified as Intra-EU movements.
This means that movements of coldwater ornamental species from NI must be notified to us at least 24 hours in advance, but notification is not required for tropical species.
The competent authority for fish health in Northern Ireland is The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA).
Q. Do I need to pay a fee to register?
Ornamental importer registration is free.
Q. What can I do if my username and password do not work?
Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for assistance.
Q. What if I am getting cold water fish which are part of a larger consignment destined for another country?
Ireland’s certification requirements for split consignments, i.e. where one part is destined for the country of first arrival, and another part is destined for Ireland, is that any stock destined for Ireland must travel with a separate health certificate detailing the Irish destination.
As the United Kingdom is no longer within the European Union, any import of fish from/through Great Britain must abide by third-country rules i.e. must travel with health certification from the relevant UK authorities, must enter through a Border Control Post, and must be pre-notified to the Border Control Post via the creation of a CHED-A on the EU's TRACES NT system (for further details, please see section on importing from outside the European Community above).
Q. Where can I find more information on EU fish health legislative requirements in relation to ornamental trade