Importation of laboratory animals and biological or chemical substances intended for research

Certain animals and biological or chemical substances may be imported from outside the European Union (EU) without payment of Customs Duty and Value-Added Tax (VAT). The animals or substances must be intended for research.

What goods qualify for relief?

The following qualify for relief:

  • Animals specially prepared for laboratory use.


To qualify for relief from VAT the animals must have been sent free of charge.

  • Biological or chemical substances included in the list below. These goods should not be available within the EU. The characteristics and purity of the goods make them suitable only for scientific research.
List of eligible biological or chemical substances
Reference No. (Cus No.)CCT headingDescription


2845 90



2845 90

(Oxygen-18) Water


2849 90

Titanium silicon carbide powder of a purity by   weight of 99% or more


2901 29



2901 29



2901 29



2901 29



2901 29



2902 19

P-Mentha-1(7),2-diene Beta-Phellandrene


2903 99



2904 10

 Ethyl methanesulfonate


2926 90



2926 90



2934 99

Morpholino phosphorodiamidate oligomers (morpholino oligonucleotides)


2936 21

Retinyl acetate


3204 12

Sulforhodamine G (C.I. Acid Red 50)


3507 90


What rules apply to the relief?

The animals and biological or chemical substances must be intended for:

  • public educational or scientific establishments
  • private education or scientific establishments on condition that they have prior approval from the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment to receive such goods duty-free.

Before you import your goods you should contact the Authorisations and Reliefs Unit describing the goods you wish to import. They will advise you how to apply for approval.

If your application is in order, we will send you a letter of authorisation containing a unique reference number.

Procedure at importation

The sender of the goods should:

  • provide information about the goods to the postal service or courier that is handling the parcel. This information about the goods should include the following:
    • an accurate description
    • a commodity code
    • and
    • the value.
  • mark the parcel 'Biological or chemical substances: relief from import charges claimed'.

The courier or postal service handling the package can use this information to complete an electronic customs declaration by using Revenue's Automated Import System (AIS).

On this customs declaration they should:

  • declare the goods as 'biological or chemical substances' in D/E 2/3
  • enter code C15 in D/E 1/11
  • and
  • enter code 1D09 and the authorisation number from your letter of authorisation in D/E 2/3.

Revenue may ask for the letter of authorisation, as described above, to support your claim for relief.

Restriction at importation

All live animals and animal products imported into the EU must undergo a Border Control Post (BCP) check. Animal products for research may be exempt from BCP checks provided you have a licence. The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) is the authority in Ireland that carries out BCP checks.

You will find information about the importation of animals in Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine - Import of animals and animal products.

If you are importing protected (CITES) species from countries outside the EU, you should contact the National Parks and Wildlife Service for further information.

Further information

If you need further information, please contact the Authorisations and Reliefs Unit.