Moving to the UK with a pet
For many of us, the idea of leaving to start a new life in a new country without taking a beloved pet is as absurd as leaving without taking a family member. Yet, with a number of rules and regulations, it isn’t always as easy as slipping your furry friend into your holdall and boarding a plane.
Whether it’s pet travel from the US to the UK or pet travel from the EU to the UK, it can be a confusing process to the uninitiated. So let us take a look at how to move to the UK with your pet and what you will have to do before stepping down with your two feet and your favorite four-legged friend.
Can you bring your pet to the UK?
1- What pets are allowed into the UK
When it comes to bringing pets into the UK, there are certain criteria depending on the type of animal you wish to bring. Common pets such as cats and dogs are permitted, along with pet ferrets. Although, this is all dependent on you having the correct health and documentation requirements for that particular pet.
There are also a number of dog breeds that are banned within the UK, so these will not be permitted to enter the UK. If you are wondering about how to import a puppy into the UK, you must obtain a non-commercial UK health certificate for the UK completed by a licensed veterinarian. It must be issued within ten days of entering the UK.
When you are planning on bringing other animals in, these regulations will all depend on whether you are bringing them in from inside the EU or from outside of the EU. There are no restrictions on bringing pet rodents, rabbits, invertebrates, amphibians, or reptiles to Great Britain from EU countries. Yet, if you are bringing in a pet bird, you will need to present a health certificate.
When it comes to bringing in pets from outside the EU, the rules on what pets are allowed are slightly different. If you are bringing in pet rabbits or rodents, then you will need to quarantine them for four months when you arrive. You can usually bring in pet invertebrates, reptiles, and amphibians without any health certificates. You must have a signed declaration from the owners saying the animals are not for sale, able to complete the journey, and are fit and healthy.
2- Maximum number of pets you can bring
The maximum number of pets you can bring into the Uk is five. The only time you can break this rule is if you are attending or training for a competition, show, or sporting event. If this is the case, then you will need written evidence of registration for the event when you travel. Also, all the extra pets must be attending the event, be over six months old, and meet the general travel rules. You will also need to fill in a declaration that you are adhering to all these rules. If you are importing more than five pets that are not attending these events, this will fall under more commercial animal breeding or trade rules, which doesn’t constitute a pet.
3- Quarantine requirements
Quarantine rules and requirements are not what they used to be in the UK. It was once standard practice to quarantine pets, especially cats and dogs, in kennels for a six-month period. Now, the Pet Travel Scheme, known as PETS, means that as long as you adhere to the rules of the Pet Travel Scheme, then quarantine isn’t required.
The Pet Travel Scheme permits pet travel to the UK. Dogs, cats, and ferrets can enter or re-enter the UK from qualified EU countries and non-EU “listed” countries. These listed countries include some non-EU countries in Europe and elsewhere in the world. Pet travel from the USA, Canada, Mexico, Australia, and New Zealand are also included.
The rules you need to follow to avoid quarantining your pet consist of having your pet microchipped, having a rabies vaccination, having tapeworm treatment, and if coming from outside the EU, a blood test after 30 days to ensure the rabies inoculation has succeeded in giving sufficient protection.
4- Banned dog breeds
Sadly, there are a number of dog breeds that are banned in the UK; these dogs won’t be permitted to enter the country. The four banned dog breeds are:
- Pit Bull Terrier
- Japanese Tosa
- Dogo Argentino
- Fila Brasileiro
5- Guide and Assistance dogs
Guide and Assistance dogs are permitted to enter the UK and will be treated under the same regulations as other pets. This means you will need to have an Animal Health Certificate, have a microchip, be vaccinated against rabies, possibly blood tested, and be treated for tapeworm.
Find more info on pet travel from the US to the UK here.
Again, not adhering to this may mean your dog will be denied entry or put into quarantine at the owner’s expense. Guide and assistance dogs, unlike pet dogs, are also permitted to travel with their owners in the cabin of the aircraft with UK, European, and most international airlines.
You can find up-to-date info on pet travel to the UK on the official site.
Main requirements for pet transport to the UK
When you are considering how to import a dog into the UK, you must ensure you follow the requirement of microchipping them. Pets who are not microchipped can be refused entry to the country. You must get your pet microchipped before, or at the same time as, their rabies vaccination. If you do not, they’ll need to be vaccinated again.
If you travel by air, train, or ferry on approved routes, staff will check your microchip if it meets International Organization for Standardization (ISO) standards. If the microchip in your pet doesn’t meet these standards then you may have to bring your own microchip reader when you travel.
If the vet is unable to read your pet’s microchip, you may have to rechip your pet, revaccinate your pet, take new blood tests if you’re traveling from a country that is not ‘listed’, issue a new pet passport or health certificate, and/or record the old and new microchips in the ‘Marking of animals’ section of the new passport.
2- Vaccination and health certificates
Before you can think of how to move to the UK with your pet, you will need to ensure they have the correct vaccinations and health certificates. This will include rabies vaccination; this can only be done by a qualified vet, who will also need proof that your pet’s at least 12 weeks old before vaccinating them.
If you are bringing a pet from a non-listed country, then your pet must have a blood sample taken at least 30 days after the rabies vaccination. Your vet must then send the blood sample to an EU-approved blood testing laboratory from either inside the EU or outside the EU. This vaccination should be recorded on your health certificate. It must include the vaccine manufacturer and product name, the vaccination date, and the date it is valid until.
3- Tapeworm treatment
Another treatment that must be carried out and recorded in your health certificate is the treatment of tapeworms. The treatment must have been given no less than 24 hours and no more than 120 hours (5 days) before you enter Great Britain. Your dog can be refused entry or put into quarantine if you do not follow this rule. If you are entering the UK from Finland, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Malta, or Norway, you will not have to treat your dog for tapeworms.
4- Pet travel document or passport
For entering the UK with your pet, you will need to ensure you have a pet passport, as well as your own. Pet passports list the different treatments your pet has had, the details of the pet, and its markings. You can get the pet passport from a vet authorized to issue them in most countries. If your vet does not issue pet passports, ask them for the nearest one that does or contact the Animal and Plant Health Agency.
When you secure your pet passport, you must take with you your pet, your pet’s identity, vaccination records, and rabies blood test results if your pet needs them. You can also ask your vet to issue a Great Britain pet health certificate, though your pet must arrive in Great Britain within ten days of the pet health certificate being issued.
5- Requirements for pet travel from the EU
If you are traveling with your pet from the EU, then you will not need an animal health certificate if you have a pet passport issued within the EU. There are also different regulations for the type of pets you can bring into the UK if you are traveling from the EU. There are no restrictions on bringing pet rodents, rabbits, invertebrates, amphibians, or reptiles to Great Britain from EU countries. This also means they will not need to present a health certificate for these types of animals.
When bringing in your pet from the EU to the UK you will need to have one of the following documents. Either a pet passport issued in an EU country, a pet passport issued in a Part 1 listed country, or a pet passport issued in the United Kingdom issued before January the 1st 2021, as long as the journey is a direct one, from one EU nation to the UK.
6- Requirements for pet travel from the US
If you are concerned about how to move to the UK with your pet from the USA, it is slightly different from that of traveling with your pet from the EU. Similarly, you will need to ensure your pet is individually identified by an ISO-compliant microchip.
Coming from the US, you will also need either a USDA Accredited Veterinarian or a Military Veterinarian to issue you a UK Health Certificate. A Military Veterinarian is defined as a Veterinary Corps Officer or civilian series government veterinarian employed by the U.S. Army Veterinary Service working at military treatment facilities. After the pet’s USDA Accredited Veterinarian has completed and signed the EU/UK Health Certificate, have the pet’s completed health certificate endorsed by your USDA APHIS Veterinary Services Endorsement Office.
6- Requirements for pet travel from other countries
Pet travel from other countries, one’s that are known as unlisted, will have to go through the whole works. You must ensure your pet is microchipped under the standards expected by the UK government. Your pet must also be vaccinated against rabies. There is no exemption to this requirement from unlisted countries, even if your pet has a current rabies vaccination.
Once your pet is vaccinated for rabies, a blood sample must be taken at least 30 days after the vaccination. You cannot enter the UK until three months after the date your vet took a satisfactory blood sample. Unique documentation will also be needed, which means you will need to obtain an official third-country veterinary certificate. It is also important to remember that if you are traveling from an unlisted country, you must travel on an authorized route and with an approved transport company.
How much does it cost to import a dog into the UK?
With all the procedures, paperwork, and the excitement of moving to the UK with your pet, the cost of doing such a thing may pass you by. Most of the dog’s moving budget will undoubtedly be spent on airline coasts.
Due to the extra care and attention the animal will need during the flight, tickets for dogs are likely to be more expensive than regular passenger ticket prices. The majority of airlines will set the price of the ticket based on the volume of the travel crate or the weight of the dog and crate together. Depending on where you are flying the dog from, the cost of this can be between £180 and £225.
Aside from the most obvious costs of transporting your pet on the airline, you will also have to take into consideration the veterinary fees. This will either be done through pet insurance or paying outright. The rabies vaccination is likely to set you back around £50, likewise with the tapeworm medicine.
Alternatively, you could also use a Pet relocation service.
What are the best ways to travel into the UK with your pet from the EU?
When it comes to travel in general, it can often be a frustrating and exhausting experience. When you add a beloved family pet into the mix, this only adds to effort and possible stress. This being said, it’s important to think about the whole process, from your point of view and the comfort of your pet.
One of the fastest ways to travel with your pet to the UK is to take it on a flight and trust it to the cargo hold for dogs. Although this is the quickest way, many dogs may find it a little distressing as you can’t be with your dog as you fly. Better alternatives are to take the cross-channel ferry or tunnel from France to the UK.
By traveling on the channel ferry, you can leave your dog in the car for the 90-minute crossing, a lot less stressful than flying. Alternatively, you can take the cross channel tunnel, which, although your pet isn’t allowed to leave the car, will enable you to be in its presence, which will only help ease the crossing.