Legislation and regulation governing the use of animals in research
Information about how the use of animals in research is governed in the UK and Europe.
On this page
Licence applications must show:
- the aim of the research and its value
- why there’s no alternative but to use animals in the research
- what processes and procedures will be undertaken
- how appropriate welfare standards and the 3Rs will be met.
To do research involving animals, a researcher requires three licences from the Home Office:
- Personal licence – lists the procedures a researcher is competent to carry out, the animal species they are authorised to use, and the places where the researcher may work.
- Project licence – specifies species to be used in a specific project, the number of animals required and the procedures that will be undertaken.
- Establishment licence – states where the procedures may be carried out - on condition that appropriate standards of housing and care for the animals are in place.
European Directive 2010/63/EU, which promotes both animal welfare and high-quality scientific research, was adopted in 2010 after a rigorous process of discussion and negotiation.
The directive became law in the UK on 1 January 2013 through amendments to the UK Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986.
We support the directive and have objected to the ‘Stop Vivisection’ initiative [PDF 2MB] which called for it to be repealed.
The directive will be reviewed in 2017 as part of the normal legislative process. With colleagues across the EU we will be actively feeding in to the review.
- Responsibility in the use of animals in bioscience research [PDF 4.5MB]– general guidance for researchers and associated veterinary and animal care staff using live animals or animal products in bioscience research. Like the BBSRC, MRC, NC3Rs and NERC, implementation of the principles in this guidance is a condition of receiving funds from Wellcome.
Choosing contractors for animal research – advice from the NC3Rs on appropriate animal welfare standards for researchers applying for grant funds from the major UK bioscience funding bodies.
The European Union supports science through legislation, funding opportunities and programmes to help cross-border collaboration.
Science policy affects a broad range of issues, ranging from data sharing and gene editing, to intellectual property and regulation.
Regulation creates an environment where research and innovation can flourish.