South African Government

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Import pathology specimens

What you should do
How long does it take
How much does it cost
Forms to complete
Who to contact



About importing pathology specimens or biological material into South Africa

If you want to import animal products, potentially infectious or contagious things into the Republic of South Africa, legislation requires that you apply for and be granted a veterinary import permit from the Director: Animal Health.

You must obtain a veterinary import permit to import pathology specimens or biological material, such as:

  • blood or serum from animals
  • any diagnostic samples from animals, such as urine, milk, faeces, skin or internal organ biopsies
  • bacteria, viruses or any pathogens of animals to be used for research or any other purpose.

Import permits are valid for a limited period and for one consignment only. You must obtain this permit before the product is shipped from the exporting country.

There might be other legislation in place for specific products and you must make sure that you meet all legal requirements.

What you should do

  1. Complete the application form Application to import pathology specimens and raw meatrials for laboratory of pharmaceutical use into the Republic of South Africa.
  2. Attach the research protocol, or a letter explaining the purpose of the importation and giving information about the handling of the imported product, to confirm the following:
    • All infective material must be sent to a laboratory.
    • The laboratory must be approved and the appropriate biosecurity (depending on the risk involved) must be in place.
    • All imported material must be incinerated after completion of tests or research.
    • It must be stated whether live animals will be exposed to the imported material or not.
    • If live animals are exposed, they must be destroyed and the carcasses incinerated after completion of tests or research.
    • All material potentially infected with foot-and-mouth disease, as well as any exotic disease agents, may only go to the Transboundary Animal Diseases Programme at Onderstepoort.
  3. The state veterinarian at the Directorate: Animal Health will contact you if further information is required and will do a risk assessment to consider your application.
  4. You must pay for the permit.
  5. Deposit the permit fee into the Department’s bank account:
    Name of bank: Standard Bank of South Africa
    Name of account holder: National Department of Agriculture
    Account No: 011219556 International Band
    Branch: 010845
    IB brand 0001982 Centre Code
    Swift Code: SBZA-ZAJJ
    Name of the branch: Arcadia
    NB: Reference must be the importer’s name and surname. In cases where you are applying on behalf of someone else, please make sure that you pay in the name of that person or company’s name.
  6. You may also pay by cheque, made payable to the Director-General: Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.
  7. Payments can also be made at the offices of the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.
  8. You are responsible for bank charges as well as the foreign bank charges; the Department will not issue a permit if the full fee is not received.
  9. Send the completed form and proof of payment to:
    The Director: Animal Health
    Import Export Policy Unit
    Private Bag X138
    South Africa
    or fax to 012 329 8292
    or e-mail to
  10. Please state on the application form whether the permit will be collected or if it has to be mailed to you.
  11. Following receipt of the completed application form and proof of payment, the Directorate: Animal Health will issue a veterinary import permit and a veterinary health certificate template.
  12. A veterinarian authorised by the veterinary authority of the exporting country must complete the veterinary health certificate in English before the departure of the consignment.
  13. A veterinary health certificate is sometimes not required for the importation of pathology specimens, but an official veterinarian of the exporting country must identify and seal the consignment.
  14. You must present the original veterinary import permit (and original veterinary health certificate if required) to the South African veterinary import control officer at the port of entry.
  15. If you need any information on the exact requirements for a specific pathology specimen or biological product, you can obtain specimen copies of the veterinary import permit and the veterinary health certificate from the Permit Office of the Directorate: Animal Health.

How long does it take

Once the State Veterinarian at the national office has approved the importation, it takes three to five working days to process the application and issue the permit.

How much does it cost


Who to contact