The distinct histories of exchange of insects and sheer diversity of the insect species shipped, their handling, and the purposes for shipments, have both created and been subject to a complex regulatory landscape. A review of global production, shipping and use experiences from a range of perspectives showed gaps and inconsistencies in international guidance and national implementation for this activity. Private carriers add another layer of uncertainty that is disproportionate to the risks, resulting in variable practices and charges. The issues identified relate to the various objectives and authorities which interface with international movement and trade in live insects. The potential benefits – from pollinator services, biological or genetic control of pests and disease vectors, and the enhancement of international scientific research and innovation – rely on a more evidence-based and efficient approach to trade in insects; this in turn requires an improved and widely accepted risk management landscape for insect trade.