Rules on animal testing and research

Published by:
Netherlands Enterprise Agency, RVO
Netherlands Enterprise Agency, RVO

Are you a scientist, doctor, or veterinarian? And do you want to carry out tests on animals, for instance for vaccine testing? You must comply with requirements regarding expertise, animal welfare, and licencing.

Tests on animals

Tests on animals are mandatory in some cases. For instance, a new medicine can only be sold after it has been tested on a living animal.

The Experiments on Animals Act (Wet op de Dierproeven, unofficial translation) describes the purposes for which animal tests may be carried out. Animal testing is only allowed if:

  • the benefit and necessity of the tests outweigh the suffering of animals
  • there are no other options

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.

The Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (Nederlandse Voedsel- en Warenautoriteit, NVWA) checks whether you keep to the regulations (in Dutch) during animal testing.

Applying for a licence

In the Netherlands, you need an establishment licence and a project licence to carry out tests involving animals. Commercial establishments that breed laboratory animals and supply them to animal testing organisations need an establishment licence to do so.

  • for an establishment licence (in Dutch) you apply to the NVWA
  • 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 licence.

Reporting changes for tests on animals

If your research plan changes you have to report this to the CCD (in Dutch). In some cases you have to apply to change your licence (for example, if you want to use more animals) or apply for a new licence (for example, if the purpose of your project changes).

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, among others, care and housing. Small-scale breeders do not require an IvD.

Your IvD needs to check if your application for a project license complies with the 3R principle:

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

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 meet legal requirements. You should for instance supply protective shelter, nesting and bedding materials and toys.

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.

Annual reporting

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 (CCD) using Message Box. Message Box is a secure email system that enables you as an entrepreneur to exchange digital messages with Dutch government agencies.