International trade is an important aspect of the leather industry, with hides, skins, leather and leather products all extensively traded globally. In 2017, the value of international trade of raw hides and skins, part-finished and finished leather was $25.6 billion.

The international value of leather goods, footwear, bags and apparel were valued at $130.64 billion. Leather also adds value to the products of the automotive, furniture and aviation industries. In 2017, leather goods accounted for an estimated 25% (US $66 billion) of a personal luxury goods market worth US $264 billion.

Area measurement

Area measurement is a fundamental element of buying and selling leather. The International Council of Tanners (ICT) has established a Code of Practice on Area Measurement, which has effectively been formalised as an essentially identical ISO standard (ISO 1146 1993).

Code of Practice for the area measurement of leather by the pinwheel measuring machine:


ICT and ICHSLTA (International Hide & Skin Traders’ Assocation) also regularly approve a list of suitable measuring institutes to carry out independent checking in the case of disputes. These include BLC Leather Technology Centre – contact

Animal by-products

The Animal By-products Regulations establish requirements for the handling and storage of raw hides and skins, for the approval of premises and for the disposal of unprocessed waste.

For details visit: General Guide to the Regulations

Under these regulations, premises tanning raw hides and skins are classed as “technical plants” and are subject to the conditions described in brief, here. This guidance explicitly excludes material that has been limed, pickled and or tanned from the scope of the regulations.

Some Leather UK members offer a private dressing service to customers wanting to process their own sheepskins and cattle hides. Please take a look at our membership directory for more information or email It would be well worth talking to your local abattoir to see what their current policy is on processing hides before making further enquiries.


Clean livestock policy

Correct application of the Meat Hygiene Regulations in slaughterhouses, following the principles of the Clean Livestock Policy, has led to a great improvement, not only in the hygienic state of carcasses in UK abattoirs but also in the cleanliness of hides available to tanners.

Further details are available from the Food Standards Agency website:

Visit: Food standards agency


The International Council of Tanners ICT) has agreed international contracts with ICHSLTA, the International Hide and Skin Traders’ Association, covering the sale of hides, skins and leather. These are available via the following links:


International Contract No 6 – Hides & Skins:


International Contract No 7 – Finished Leather:


Edible co-products

Subject to strict handling and storage controls, hide and skin materials not utilised in leather manufacture may be designated as co-products suitable for application in the food industry, e.g. collagen and gelatine production.

The requisite conditions are described in the Guidance for Edible Co-Products:

Visit: Food standards agency

Endangered species

The Control of International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) is strictly regulated in the UK by DEFRA.

Further details can be found on the CITES website:


Product classification

For international trade, all products are classified under the EU “Combined Nomenclature”, which follows the internally agreed harmonised system of tariff nomenclature.

Hides, skins and leather are classified under the Official Journal of the European Community (30.10.2008)

Also see

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Leather directory

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