A vast majority of logistics companies do not accept live insects on board. The reason is that even though insects have very different requirements than e.g mammals during transportation, they fall under the same category of “live animals”. Live animals mean extra work, extra cost and especially extra risk and for these reasons the logistics companies have chosen this policy.
In Europe, live animals are declined by at least the following major companies: TNT, FedEx, UPS, DHL, Schenker. Some companies have exceptions if transportation happens within a country or if airplanes are not used. For example, Matkahuolto company in Finland allows ground transportation, but only within the country. What is interesting is that FedEx is doing live insect transportation within different states in the USA, but not in the EU.
So if the policies are so strict, how come companies are able to send live insects internationally?
First of all the large global companies do not have a consistent approach to the relatively new demand. This we can see from the example of FedEx and their differences in EU and USA. When the logistics companies do not have a clear answer, it is possible for some departments or local offices to go around the official policies.
The second reason and the most common way to send live insects is to send them unannounced meaning that the insects are packed and sent without telling what is actually inside the box. The Finnish national post office Posti has told that they know that their network is used for live insect transportation this way. Using this method is a really bad idea in the long run and will lead to big problems sooner or later. In some cases sending unannounced might be the only option to be able to send at all, but the following points should make you consider the option of not sending at all seriously:
When sending purposely against the regulations you might be eligible to cover damages. This is the case if the logistics company notices your violation of the rules and must carry out quarantine actions to isolate the risky shipment from other packages. The second and a lot more serious and expensive case is the breaking of a live insect box during transportation. Depending on the case it might be that the logistics company has to decontaminate multiple shelves, or even complete airport hangar, dispose of other packages that are affected by the escaped insects and so on. And if this happens you can be sure that they are not willing to pay the bill themselves.
There is no legal or regulatory cover. This goes to both receiver and sender! When something goes wrong with a shipment, and eventually something will go wrong, the logistics company will not cover anything to you once it is clear what was inside the package. If you are using the method of unannounced shipments, is it clear what will you do with you if a shipment doesn’t arrive because of the third party?
So what to do? If you are a supplier you should cover yourself by selling your live insect with the Incoterm Ex Works. This means that you are selling them “free from the warehouse” so that products are available from a given location where the customer or a third party assigned by the customer can pick them up. At the moment of picking up the responsibility of the supplier ends and all possible issues are now in the hands of the customer.
The best option is obviously using a logistics service provider that officially transports live insects. There are now a few options available also in the EU. If you are interested to get connected I am happy to help you out!
e-mail me itaponen(at)gmail.com or call +358 40 762 9601