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(opens in a new tab) require every UK researcher who wishes to carry out animal research to have three licences from the Home Office(opens in a new tab).

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(opens in a new tab) will be met. 

EU regulation 

European Directive 2010/63/EU(opens in a new tab), 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(opens in a new tab)

We support the directive and have objected to the ‘Stop Vivisection’ initiative [PDF 2.02MB] which called for it to be repealed.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 

Contact us 

If you have any questions, contact Beth Thompson

b.thompson@wellcome.org