Recent changes in the importing regulations mean that all samples are now judged on an individual basis which may affect the conditions attached to the licences. Please contact Catherine Hambly (firstname.lastname@example.org) with details of your samples and she will be able to advise you on the import licences required; licences generally take up to three weeks to come through, so please make sure you leave enough time for an application to be made. Licences generally only last for 3 months, so you need to ensure that any licence we send to you is valid when you send us the samples.
This section details the legal and packing requirements for samples sent to our laboratory. This information will likely also cover sending samples to any analytical laboratory that is not in the same country as your field site.
Samples sent to us from outside of the UK must be accompanied by an import licence (this includes EU countries). Due to the different governments in Scotland and England, there are separate licences depending on the route of entry into the UK – if you do not know the route that the samples will take, it is safer to include both an English import licence and a Scottish import licence.
As well as the import licence, you need to check that there are no regulations or restrictions for the export of the samples from the country where you are working. We have not had many problems with this within the EU, but we have had problems with the export of blood samples from China. If you are working with CITES listed animals, you will need to get a CITES licence before you can send the samples to us. You should be able to get information about exports via the quarantine department at the airport or through customs and excise. DHL and FEDEX couriers should also have information on what they can and cannot carry on planes.
The import licence(s) and any other paperwork should be attached to the OUTSIDE of your parcel in a clear plastic envelope. Please ensure you read and comply with all conditions regarding disinfecting and labelling of the package (these are normally on the second page of the licence) and provide the documentation requested. It is also a good idea to write an accompanying letter giving a contact name and number in case there are any queries with the parcel. The minimum requirements for sending your samples are that all samples are packed within one or more sealed plastic boxes - these should be wiped with disinfectant and then packed within a cardboard box that can be labelled and have licences attached to it. You may find that the courier you use has specific regulations for the packaging of animal samples so you should check with them as well.
Once the samples arrive here, the plastic box(es) will be heat sterilised at 60oC so you must use something that will be ok at this temperature. Do not include anything in the box (eg samples of injectate) that should not be heat treated as the plastic box(es) must be heat sterilised before they are opened.
If you are bringing your samples with you to the UK on a plane rather than using a courier, you will need to pack the samples in your hold luggage – they can not be taken as hand luggage. The samples still require an import licence and should be packed in a sealed plastic container; you should declare them at customs when you enter the UK. The samples should be brought direct to Aberdeen without being opened.
NOTE - CUSTOMS OFFICERS HAVE BEEN KNOWN TO DESTROY SAMPLES THAT WERE BEING TRANSPORTED WITHOUT THE CORRECT LICENCES. Make sure your hard work in the field is not wasted by being sloppy with the paperwork for transportation of your samples. If in doubt don't risk it.