Using animals for scientific and educational purposes

Animals may only be used for scientific and educational purposes when:

  • No alternative non-animal methods are available.
  • The minimum number of animals is used.
  • Only the minimum necessary pain, suffering and distress are caused.

Our role

The HPRA is responsible for regulating and enforcing EU and national legislation on scientific animal protection in Ireland. We do this by:

  • Licensing each animal study, premises, researchers and operators according to strict legal and regulatory conditions.
  • Monitoring and enforcing compliance with the set conditions by licence holders.
  • Providing advice to the regulated community.
  • Fulfilling reporting requirements to the EU Commission.

Our commitment

We are dedicated to ensuring that the care and use of animals for scientific purposes is in line with the 3R principles - Replacement, Reduction and Refinement.

Independence and funding

As an independent government agency, we do not make national policy decisions regarding animals being used for scientific purposes, nor do we amend legislation. The scientific animal protection section mainly self-funding, and we have implemented various  fees to cover the costs in providing our services.  Since 2023, we have received part-funding from the Department of Health for certain inspection and other services.

Our primary functions

  1. We inspect and authorise establishments that keep, breed or use animals for scientific purposes.
  2. We review and authorise projects and individuals conducting research involving animals.
  3. We ensure compliance with the legal requirements and the 3R principles (replacement, refinement and reduction) through regular inspections.
  4. We monitor establishment records, ensuring they comply with the requirements. Additionally, we report on specific statistical parameters to the EU Commission.
  5. We thoroughly investigate and address any issues discovered during inspections or brought to our attention. In severe cases, we might suspend or revoke relevant authorisations or potentially initiate legal action.
  6. We collaborate with competent authorities from other EU Member States, sharing information and best practices relating to the 3Rs.

Our relationship with the National Committee

The National Committee is an independent committee that is appointed by the Minister for Health to meet specific requirements. The National Committee is available to advise the HPRA on scientific animal protection matters. In agreement with the Department of Health, the HPRA provides secretarial and logistical support to the National Committee to enable the committee to carry out its role.

Relevant application forms and guidelines