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.

UK regulation

Stringent regulations set out in the UK Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 require every UK researcher who wishes to conduct research involving animals to be licensed by the Home Office

Licence applications must show:

To do research involving animals, a researcher requires three licences from the Home Office:

  1. 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.
  2. Project licence  specifies species to be used in a specific project, the number of animals required and the procedures that will be undertaken. 
  3. 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.

EU regulation

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We support the directive and have objected to the ‘Stop Vivisection’ initiative [PDF 2MB] which called for it to be repealed.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. 

More information


European Union

The European Union supports science through legislation, funding opportunities and programmes to help cross-border collaboration.

Influencing policy

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. 

Reports and consultations

Read our policy reports and responses to major consultations.