Governing the use of animals in research

Information about how the use of animals in research is governed in the UK and the European Union.

UK regulation

Regulations set out in the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 require every UK researcher who wishes to carry out animal research to have three licences from the Home Office.

These are: 

  • a personal licence for each person carrying out procedures on animals
  • a project licence for the programme of work
  • an establishment licence for the place at which the work is carried out.

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. 

EU regulation

European Directive 2010/63/EU, which promotes both animal welfare and high-quality scientific research, was adopted in 2010.  

The directive became law in the UK on 1 January 2013 through amendments to the 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We support the directive and have objected to the ‘Stop Vivisection’ initiative [PDF 2MB] which called for it to be repealed.

Our FAQs on European Directive 2010/63/EU [PDF 107KB] explain how and why animals are used in research and the legislation which governs this activity.  

More information