The Law of 12 July 1973 on nature conservation is the legal basis for preventing the introduction of invasive species to the national territory. In particular, it contains a series of provisions that aim to prevent, identify and punish offences which take place during the import, export or transit of invasive alien species prohibited in Europe.
The Federal Environmental Inspection is the competent authority which carries out these checks with the support of customs and the FASFC.
The prevailing rule is the ban on importing, exporting or transiting of one or more specimens on the list of species of Union concern. This prohibition covers movements from third party countries to the European Union but also between Belgium and other European Union Member States.
However, the regulation provides for three exemptions:
1. The case of travelling pets:
For prohibited invasive alien species that are pets which were acquired prior to the European ban on possession coming into force, it is possible to return to Belgium or go to another country with your pet. No permit is required but a check will automatically be made at borders. You are strongly advised to inform the FPS Public Health of your journey with your pet 30 days prior to your departure or your arrival using the following address: email@example.com.
2. The case of exemption permits for import or export:
a) An exemption permit may be requested in order to carry out research work on species prohibited by the European Union, their ex situ conservation or scientific production and subsequent medicinal use.This exemption mechanism is set out in Article 8 of the IAS Regulation. The application procedure for the permit request is established by the Royal Decree of 17 November 2016 on the procedures and conditions for authorising, suspending or withdrawing a permit for the import, export or transit of invasive alien species of concern to the European Union.
b) An exemption permit may also be requested for compelling public interest reasons, including those of a social or economic nature.
This possibility is provided for under Article 9 of the IAS Regulation. Given its exceptional nature, on receipt of the request, the Federal Authority will submit it to the European Commission via an electronic system. It is only in the event that the European Commission gives a favourable opinion that the permit can, where applicable, be issued by the Federal Authority based on the Royal Decree of 17 November 2016 on the procedures and conditions for authorising, suspending or withdrawing a permit for the import, export or transit of invasive alien species of concern to the European Union.
Application procedure for exemption permits:
In practical terms, this requires the form in the appendix (link to Word document) to be completed and sent it by post or email to the following address:
- by email to the address: permis.EEE@health.fgov.be
- or by post to the address:
Multilateral and Strategic Affairs Department - Invasive Alien Species
FPS Health, Safety of the Food Chain and Environment
Avenue Galilée 5/2
B – 1210 BRUSSELS
ATTENTION: Please note that the request for an exemption permit does not exempt you from applying for other permits which may be required, such as a health certificate issued by the FASFC or a regional permit for the possession of invasive alien species.