Shipping animals from IMP IMBA


Instructions and Information on Mouse Shipments from IMP IMBA Animal House:

Please consider that shipping of live animals is something we do in addition to our main work, according to available working capacity. In doubt we always have to give priority to the husbandry work etc. which will lead to delays as for mouse shipments.

The following information should explain this complex procedure and should help you to get out the mice as soon as possible:

What we can do for you:

Preparing a shipment and packing the mice takes about 6 – 15 hours (sometimes more) per shipment. Therefore we only can deal with a limited number of shipments per week based on the “first come, first served” principle.

A. We make sure that the receiving animal house gets the necessary information on the health status of your mice, answering appropriate questions concerning the health status, sending documents etc. Sometimes we discuss open questions with foreign authorities (e.g. Australia) to sort out importation problems. We apply for the permission to send the mice.

B.  We charge a shipping company once the consignee is ready to receive the mice.

C. We prepare the official paper work (health certificates + sera checks, official certificate of the veterinary authorities pro- forma-invoice for customs, list of animals to be shipped, animal release document, appropriate labels for filter crates etc., a total amount of about 20 pages).

D. We inform the veterinary inspectors and present the mice to them for checking them on the shipping day immediately before they are packed in special filter crates and picked up. The mice are always subject to mandatory controls by the veterinary inspectors (within 24 hours prior to the shipment) before they may be forwarded to the shipping company.

E. We pack the mice according to IATA regulations, animal protection law and according to barrier requirements so that the SPF-status of the mice is not lost during the shipment. We hand the animals over to the shipping company together with the paperwork; we inform the consignee once the mice are sent away already.

F. We can cope with a maximum of 10 filter crates per shipping day, which means 1 - 3 shipments per week (first come, first served).

Please send your request to animaltransfer(at) We only organize door-to-door shipments by charging companies registered with the Viennese veterinary inspectors (special license for shipping live mice is required). We only have a very poor influence on the routing. This is done by the shipping company and depends on available flights etc. The receiving animal house has to make sure that all necessary licenses to import the mice into the country of destination are held.

What we cannot do for you:

We are not involved in organizing material transfer agreements, billing matters, decisions, which mice have to be selected etc. We cannot carry out any additional health checks exceeding our routine health monitoring panel. If the health status of your mice is not compatible with the health status of the receiving animal house the consignee has to rederive the animals after arrival.

If we are charged with a shipment automatically means, that there are no open questions on the ownership and on the intellectual property any more and that the shipment does not violate any institutional rules (in doubt please ask your group leader or the IMP IMBA management).

Please consider that nothing will happen (except for sending the health information on your mice to the consignee and asking for the consignee’s permission to send the mice):

1. long as you did not provide us with the details on the mice (number of cages, number of mice, gender, strains, genotype etc.) and as long as the cages are not labeled for the shipment, so that the animal technician can check the mice and decide how many filter crates will be needed. No mothers with litters or highly pregnant mice may be sent. The mice have to be in a good condition. The veterinary inspectors come in on the day the mice are shipped and decide, whether your mice can be sent immediately before they are packed.

2. long as we do not have the consignee’s permission to send the mice. We cannot send the mice as long as the receiving animal house does not give us the permission to send the mice; they have to let us know, that they are ready to receive the mice. They decide when the mice can be delivered. This is mostly arranged among the shipping company and the receiving animal house. Based on this information the pickup date is arranged among us and the shipping company. This means the shipping date depends above all on the delivery date decided by the receiving animal house.

3. long as we do not know, who will pay for the shipment. In this case the shipping company refuses to make any flight reservations.

Once we have all required information we start preparing the paperwork for the shipment. No changes referring this shipment (mice, etc.) are possible any more at this time.

Normally we send mice on a Tuesday (in rare cases sending mice on a Wednesday is possible depending on the address of final destination). Otherwise the danger that they do not arrive before next Friday or the next weekend is too high (most animal houses refuse accepting mice on Fridays or weekends). For sending mice on a Tuesday we have to inform the Veterinary inspectors on Thursday noon the previous week at latest. This cannot be done before the shipping company provides us with the airway bill No, flight No and the confirmation that the delivery date is arranged among the company and the receiving animal house. For organizing all this matters the shipping company needs from 2 days up to several weeks. This means closing date is Friday morning at latest for sending mice on Tuesday the other week. Getting this information 1 day later or changing something may cause a delay of at least 1 week.  

Most popular reasons for a delay:


- We still did not get the permission to send the mice.

Sometimes it takes a long time till the veterinarian of the receiving facility checks the health information we sent to him/her already. There is no way for us to urge them to be quicker. Therefore the scientist, who expects the mice, should ask the staff of his/her animal house instead of urging us.


- The receiving animal house refuses to accept the mice because of the health status.

Here they have to introduce the mice into their facility by embryo-transfer or a shipment is not possible. The decision whether the mice can be accepted or not has to be made by the receiving animal house. Nothing more can be done from our end.


- The airport of final destination has an embargo on live animals (above all in summer when it is too hot, or in winter, when it is too cold there).

Here we have to wait for the appropriate weather conditions.


- No airline is available (some airlines have an embargo on laboratory animals), difficult routing.

 In general the shipping company finds a way finally.


- The airline unloads the mice because there are too many passengers and too much luggage although there is a valid reservation.

We are sorry, but they may do so according to IATA regulations. It does not happen too often but once it happens it causes major problems.


- The staff of the receiving animal house is not informed on the shipment, because the scientist, who should get the mice, did not let them know that he/she expects mice from the IMP IMBA animal house.

Sometimes the communication between the receiving scientist and the staff of his/her animal facility is underdeveloped. Please ask the scientist, to whom you want to send the mice, to contact his animal house and to sort out those problems. It makes no sense, that the scientist, who should get the mice, urges you (and us) to send the mice as soon as possible although he/ she did not make the preparations required by his/her animal facility. On the other hand it happened several times that the consignee asked us when we intend to send the mice, although these mice are already housed in his/her facility. Please consider that sorting out problems with the scientist, who is interested in getting the mice, and the animal facility, where the mice will be housed, are 2 different matters.


- Changes as for the mice etc. are made by you, after the closing date.

This reason for a delay can be avoided easily: make no changes any more.


- The mice, which are supposed to be shipped, are not ready.

Here it depends on you, when the mice will be sent. It makes no sense asking us, when this will happen. Nothing will happen (except for sending the health information to the consignee) as long as you do not provide us with the mice, it is your job to forward this information to us, we will not ask for it.


- The receiving animal house requests legal confirmations, which have to be issued by the Austrian veterinary inspectors exceeding the standard procedure designated by Austrian law.

Of course we will ask the veterinary inspectors, whether they are willing to sign a special foreign document, which is not provided by Austrian law, normally they are cooperative, but there is no way for us to force them to do so. Please consider that the information on the health status of our mice and the health certificates, which will be sent along with the shipment, have nothing to do with each other. The one is needed for the receiving animal house; the other is needed for the foreign authorities.


- There are too many shipments and not enough animal technicians. 

We are sorry but here you have to wait. We try to do our best, but in general there is no person, who can take over for our animal transfer coordinator. Top priority is always given to the daily care of the animals inside our facility and in doubt every additional administration work has to be cut down.


- The IMP or IMBA administration forces us to cancel the shipment because apparently the material transfer agreement MTA is not signed so far.

Please always make sure that these problems are sorted out already before you charge the animal house with your shipment.


- The consignee insists in a shipping company, which does not show the proper licenses for shipping live animals and is not registered with the Vienna veterinary office.

From the legal point of view we must not hand out the animals to this company.


- The border veterinarian of the airport of final destination refuses the shipment, because the consignee did not apply for the necessary import license on time.

Here it is likely, that the mice will be killed. Nothing can be done by us any more. In general the shipping company we are cooperating with takes care that all legal requirements are met by the consignee before they pick up the mice.