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Ornamental Imports - Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)



Answers to our most frequently asked questions on importing ornamental aquatic species can be found below.

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.

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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 submitted, your application to register will be reviewed and, if approved by the Marine Institute, you will receive an email outlining the conditions of registration, along with your unique registration number.  

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Q. What do I need to do to import ornamental fish into Ireland from the EU?

All ornamental importers must first be registered with the Marine Institute (see above).

If you are a commercial importer bringing in listed species from the EU, you will also need to submit a separate import application each time you import. This must be done at least 24 hours before the consignment departs from the origin site. The consignment must also travel with a health certificate from the country of origin which satisfies the requirements for entry to Ireland.

A summary document of listed species, diseases and Ireland's health status can be downloaded here

To apply to import, login onto using the username and password supplied to you during the registration process. If you have registered, but have not yet received login details please contact

If you are a commercial importer bringing in non-listed species (e.g. tropical fish) from within the EU, you do NOT need to apply to the Marine Institute to import your consignment. However you are still required to register with the Marine Institute as an Importer of Ornamental fish.

Private importers who bring in fish for their own personal use are not required to submit import applications, registration as an importer is sufficient in this regard. However, if the fish are a listed species then they must still travel with an IntraTrade animal health certificate which contains the necessary health attestations for entry to Ireland. This must be posted on the TRACES NT system prior to departure by the supplier or the authorities in the origin country.

NB: Due to the United Kingdom's exit from the European Union, they are 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.

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Q. Can I still import from the United Kingdom?

Yes, ornamental imports are still permitted from the United Kingdom.

However, as the UK has left the European Union, Great Britain (excluding Northern Ireland) is now considered a 'third country' and additional requirements and procedures must be followed when importing from there. 

For further information, please see information on importing from outside of the European Community below.

NB: Great Britain in this context can be defined as England, Scotland, Wales, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands. Northern Ireland continues to operate under EU animal health rules, therefore imports from that jurisdiction are classified as imports from another EU-member state.

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Q. What is the difference between tropical and cold water fish and listed species?

In the context of ornamental aquatic animals, the regulations apply to (fin)fish, molluscs and crustaceans.

Tropical species can be defined as those which are held in heated aquaria and which are not capable of surviving in the natural aquatic environment.

Cold-water species are those which could potentially survive in natural waters in Ireland, and therefore pose a higher risk of spreading aquatic disease to native/wild populations. 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 covered in EU legislation must be certified as though they are destined for an open facility.

The term 'listed species' refers to those which are considered to be susceptible to, or vectors of, the aquatic diseases covered under EU animal health legislation. A current summary list of all aquatic diseases covered in the legislation, their listed (susceptible/vector) species, and Ireland's health status for each can be downloaded here.

Click here for further information on importing non-listed aquatic species.

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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.

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Q. What health certificate do I need to import my ornamental fish?

Please review our certification requirements for ornamental imports page for further information.

Ireland has disease-free health status for a number of aquatic diseases covered under EU Animal Health Law. As a result, imports of species which are either susceptible to, or vectors of those diseases may only come from areas which have also been declared free from those diseases. Consignments must also be accompanied by a veterinary health certificate which includes the relevant health attestations for those diseases. 

A summary list of all animal health diseases in the legislation, their susceptible/vector species, and Ireland's health status for each can be found here.

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Q. I wish to import ornamental aquatic animals from outside the European Community

In order to comply with Animal Health legislation when importing live ornamental fish/molluscs/crustaceans from outside of EU (incl. Great Britain):

(i) The importer must be registered with the Marine Institute
(ii) The importer must also be registered with the Department of Agriculture, Food & the Marine (DAFM)
(iii) Commercial importers must give at least 24 hours advance notification to the MI.
(iv) The consignment must enter the EU at a Border Control Post suitable for live fish
(v) It must come from an EU listed third country (or WOAH member if a non-listed species)
(vi) 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. This is a straighforward process and can be completed online here.

Should your application be approved, you will receive a confirmation email with your unique registration number and an importer profile will be created for you on the EU's TRACES NT system for registration of animal movements.

If you are a commercial importer you will be issued login information so that you can submit import applications online.


(ii) The importer must also be registered with the Department of Agriculture, Food & the Marine (DAFM)

In addition to registering with the Marine Institute, you must now also register as an importer with the Department of Agriculture, Food & the Marine (DAFM).

Further information on DAFM registration can be found on here.

Once registered, DAFM should also provide you with login information so that you can upload supporting documentation (health cert etc.) to in advance of an import.


(iii) Commercial importers must give at least 24 hours advance notification to the MI.

If you are importing commercially, you must notify the Marine Institute of an ornamental import at least 24 hours before it departs the site of origin.

This is done by submitting an ornamental import application online using the login information you receive upon registration.

You should attach copies of the following documents to your application:

  • Animal Health Certificate (see below)
  • The packing list for your consignment if applicable (names and total quantities of the species in the consignment)

If these are not yet available at the time of your application, they can be emailed to prior to departure.


(iv) 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 (see below for further information). 

The following BCPs on the island of Ireland are certified to accept live fish:

  • Ports: Dublin, Rosslare, Larne & Belfast
  • Airports: Dublin

Other 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.


(v) Must come from a European Union listed third-country (or WOAH member if a non-listed species)

Imports of listed species to the European Union must come from an EU-approved 'third-country' i.e. those countries listed in the latest consolidated version of Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2021/404, as amended.

Imports of non-listed species may come from any country which is a member of the World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH)


(vi) Must be accompanied by Appropriate Health Certificates and CHED-As

In order to comply with European Animal Health Law and Ireland's requirements, any third-country imports of ornamental species must:

  • comply with Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2020/692, as amended;
  • be accompanied by an appropriate health certificate;
  • 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

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 or an agent acting on their behalf, and is submitted through the European Union's TRACES NT system. Access to this system in Ireland is administered by the Department of Agriculture, Food & the Marine and is granted after you register with them as an importer.

The animal health certificate and packing list should also be submitted to DAFM directly so that they can be reviewed by the veterinary officials working on border control prior to arrival. This can be done online through their portal, access to which is granted after you register with them as an importer.

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

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Q. I am moving to Ireland and I wish to bring my pet fish with me

Ireland has a higher health status than many other countries for a number of diseases which affect fish, including Koi Carp and Goldfish. Therefore, we need to ensure that fish entering the country will not jeopardise this health status.

Exemptions to this rule may apply from time to time where an owner is moving to Ireland with a small number (5 or less) of their own pet fish. However, there are conditions attached to this exemption e.g. that they are destined for a biosecure holding facility etc. 

If you intend to travel to Ireland with your pet fish you can contact us for further information at

Regardless of the type of ornamental import, you must still register with the Marine Institute as an ornamental importer in advance.

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Q. I am importing coral, do I need to apply to the Marine Institute?

No. The fish health regulations only apply to:

(i) fish

(ii) molluscs

(iii) crustaceans

However, many species of coral are classified as endangered under the CITES convention, so this may need to be considered before importing.


To import endangered species, or to check if a species is on the CITES endangered list, you should contact National Parks and Wildlife service to enquire about a CITES import permit.

NPWS: +353 (0)1 888 3242 |


For all other imports of aquatic animals for ornamental purposes (e.g. salamanders etc.), the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) should be contacted.

DAFM: +353 (0)1 607 2000 |


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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 here.

If you suspect that GM ornamental fish are being sold in Ireland, you should notify the EPA.

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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 Irish law 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:

Common Name Scientific Name
Spiny-cheek crayfish Orconectes limosus
Virile crayfish Orconectes virilis
Signal crayfish Pacifastacus leniusculus
Red swamp crayfish Procambarus clarkii
Marbled crayfish Procambarus fallax f. virginalis

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Q. I am buying fish from an establishment in Northern Ireland, do I still need to apply?

Yes, if you are a commercial importer you must submit an import application in advance each time you bring in fish.

While Northern Ireland continues to operate under EU animal health rules post-Brexit, nevertheless it is still 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 commercial movements of listed ornamental species from NI must be notified to us at least 24 hours in advance, but notification is not required for non-listed (e.g. tropical) species.

If you are a private individual importing fish for your own personal use then you are only required to register as an importer with the Mairne Institute and a separate import application is not required.

The competent authority for aquatic animal health in Northern Ireland is The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA).

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Q. Do I need to pay a fee to register?

No. Ornamental importer registration is free.

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Q. What can I do if my username and password do not work?

Please contact for assistance.

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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 animals destined for Ireland must travel with a separate health certificate which lists the place of destination in Ireland, and satisfies the animal health requirements for entry.

In addition, the portion of the consignment which is destined for Ireland must be kept separate to the rest of the consignment i.e. in separate, sealed biosecure containers, and nothing should be done during transit to jeopardise the health status of the animals. This can include removing the animals, water exchange, mixing with animals of a lower health status etc.  A full description of these requirements are laid out in Article 167 of Delegated Regulation (EU) 2020/692, as amended, which can be viewed on EUR-Lex (it is advisable to view the latest consolidated version of this regulation).  

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. it must travel with health certification from the competent veterinary authority in the country/zone of origin, 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).

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Q. Where can I find more information on EU fish health legislative requirements in relation to ornamental trade

You can find more information on our own legislation page, or on the European Commission website.

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