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Rules on animal testing and research

This information is provided by

Netherlands Enterprise Agency, RVO

Do you want to carry out tests on animals, for instance vaccine testing? You are only allowed to do so if the benefit and necessity of the tests outweigh the suffering of animals and there are no other options. You must comply with requirements regarding expertise, animal welfare and licencing.

The Experiments on Animals Act (Wet op de Dierproeven, unofficial translation) describes the purposes for which animal tests may be carried out. The Act includes requirements regarding the expertise of the researchers and animal keepers involved and the housing and care of the laboratory animals.

Applying for a licence

In the Netherlands, you need both an establishment licence and a project licence to carry out tests involving animals. Breeders only need an establishment licence.

  • for an establishment licence you apply to the Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Authority (Nederlandse Voedsel en Warenautoriteit, NVWA, in Dutch)
  • for every project you apply for a project licence to the Central Animal Testing Committee (Centrale Commissie Dierproeven, CCD)

Once you submit a research plan, the Animal Tests Committee (dierexperimentencommissie, DEC, in Dutch) will consider your application. If the committee issues a positive recommendation, the CCD will issue the project license. The NVWA checks whether you adhere to the rules during animal testing.

Your application needs to comply with the 3R principle:

  • replacement: you should replace animal testing as far as possible with test that do not involve animals
  • reduction: use a few animals as possible in each trial
  • refinement: ensure maximum welfare conditions for the animals and prevent unnecessary distress

Animal Welfare Body

If you perform tests on animals and are licenced to do so, you must establish an animal welfare body (Instantie voor Dierenwelzijn, IvD). This body monitors the welfare of the animals and provides advise to your staff on for instance care and housing. Small-scale breeders do not require an IvD.

Animal care

Only trained personnel may perform animal tests and provide care for the animals. They must treat the animals well and carefully. The animals may not be unduly distressed by the tests. The animals’ facilities must also comply with legal requirements. You should for instance supply protective shelter, nesting and bedding materials and toys.

Laboratory animals

Tests may only be carried out on animals specially bred for that purpose. Certain species of non-human primates may not be used in animal tests. Commercial establishments that breed laboratory animals and supply them to animal testing organisations need an establishment licence (in Dutch) to do so.

Ban on animal testing for cosmetics

Animal testing for cosmetics is banned in the European Union. The ban includes:

  • animal testing for cosmetics;
  • animal testing for the ingredients of cosmetics;
  • trading in cosmetic products which have been tested on animals.


You must send an annual report to NVWA regarding the animal tests you have carried out. This report must state:

  • the purpose of the test
  • the breed and number of laboratory animals used
  • the techniques employed
  • the extent to which the animals were subjected to stress

Online application procedure via Message Box

You can apply online for an animal testing licence from the Central Animal Testing Committee using Message Box. Message Box is a secure email system that enables you as an entrepreneur to exchange digital messages with Dutch government agencies.

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This information is provided by

Netherlands Enterprise Agency, RVO
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