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Slaughter licensing

How to get the required licensing to slaughter animals in a meat establishment.

Last updated: 24 March 2020

Certificate of Competence

As the UK has left the EU, a Certificate of Competence (CoC) issued anywhere other than in the UK is no longer valid and cannot be accepted to carry out duties in approved slaughterhouses.

Citizens from the Republic of Ireland (ROI) can apply for a UK CoC upon application to with details of their current ROI CoC, and the appropriate fee. A UK CoC will be issued on an equivalence basis for the same species and operations

Why you need one

You need a Certificate of Competence (CoC) from the Food Standards Agency (FSA) to do any of the following in an FSA-approved slaughterhouse:

  • handle animals before they’re restrained
  • restrain animals for stunning or killing
  • stun animals
  • check stunning has worked
  • shackle or hoisting live animals
  • bleed live animals
  • religious slaughter
  • pithing of a stunned animal
  • check pithing has worked

What it will cover

Your CoC must cover each type of animal you work with and each operation that you carry out.

If you stun animals, your CoC must cover the different types of equipment you use.

If you need to add more operations or types of animal to your CoC, you must get a temporary CoC and complete training and assessment for the additional operation or animal.

You need a full or temporary CoC if you do any of the following:

  • handle animals before restraining them
  • kill an animal with a free bullet for human consumption
  • shackle poultry


Temporary Certificate of Competence

A temporary Certificate of Competence (CoC) will allow you to work under the direct supervision of a full CoC holder for the species and operations you are carrying out.

Evidence of registration must be provided to the OV to allow the ​temporary CoC to be issued.

This certificate is valid for three months from date of issue. You must undertake and successfully pass an assessment from an accredited provider to be awarded a qualification certificate.

This qualification certificate is required for a CoC be issued.

You can apply for a re-issue of the temporary certificate for three months after the previous one has run out if you are unable to complete the assessment due to circumstances outside of your control. You can do this through the OV in the slaughterhouse.



Re-issuing of a temporary certificate is only for exceptional cases and each case will be considered on its own merits.



Re-issuing of a temporary certificate is only for exceptional cases and each case will be considered on its own merits.

Certificates of Competence during COVID-19 outbreak restrictions

Anyone carrying out certain slaughter operations involving live animals up to the point of death (not unconsciousness) must hold a Certificate of Competence (CoC), under the Welfare of Animals at the Time of Killing (WATOK) Regulations; however, as a result of COVID-19 restrictions the following procedures for CoCs and Temporary CoC (TCoC), particularly extensions and reapplications, will apply until 31st August 2021:

  • The requirements to obtain an initial TCoC remain the same – evidence of registration must be provided to the Official Veterinarian (OV) to allow the TCoC to be issued.
  • The duration of the TCoC remains the same – the certificate is valid for three months from the date of issue.
  • The procedure for extension requests remains the same – apply for a re-issue of the TCoC for a duration of three months after the previous one has run out, by applying to the Welfare of Animals at the Time of Killing (WATOK) team at
  • When considering connected extension requests because the TCoC holder has been unable to undertake a full CoC assessment, the requirement of Regulation (EC) No 1099/2009, Article 21(5)(d) – 'The competent authority may issue temporary certificates of competence provided that: (d) the applicant provides a written declaration stating that he/she has not previously been issued another temporary certificate of competence of the same scope or demonstrates to the satisfaction of the competent authority that he/she was unable to take the final examination' shall be considered to be met and the extension should be granted as soon as possible.
  • Where a TCoC holder was unable to take a final examination and chose not to extend the TCoC, exceptional circumstances will apply and this would not prevent another application for a TCoC of the same scope.  These applications will still be considered on a case by case basis but on successful completion of the relevant ‘fit and proper’ checks the TCoC should be issued as soon as possible.
  • Regarding full CoCs, there may be a delay in issuing CoC cards so to make clear, a plant operative may work unattended if they have passed their full CoC assessment, have received confirmation from the assessor and can demonstrate it to the OV.
  • We have confirmed with Defra Welfare Team that there can be no exception to the requirement for a TCoC holder to work 'in the presence and under the direct supervision of another person who holds a certificate of competence issued for the specific activity to be undertaken'.
  • If you have any questions related to our issuing of TCoC and CoC please contact


How to apply

You can apply for a certificate of competence or licence to slaughter or kill animals (Opens in a new window).

This webpage provides information on the licence or certificate you need to slaughter or kill animals, the operations covered, and the application process.


When your CoC or licence can be revoked or suspended

The FSA can cancel or temporarily suspend your CoC or WATOK licence if you do not follow WATOK regulations.

Appeals in England and Wales

A decision made by the FSA in England and Wales to refuse, suspend or revoke a CoC can be appealed.

The appeal system entitles you to make written representations to and be heard by the General Regulatory Chamber First Tier Tribunal.

To do this you need to use the Ministry of Justice form T98 and send it within 28 days of the decision.


You will need to send the appeals form to:

General Regulatory Chamber

HM Courts and Tribunals Service

PO Box 9300

Leicester LE1 6ZX