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How to bring your pet to the UK?

If you are a pet lover like we are, and want to bring a pet from overseas, you might find this blog helpful.

Here is a short overview of the process:

  1. Check if you can bring your pet
  2. Get your pet microchipped
  3. Get your pet vaccinated against rabies
  4. Get tapeworm treatment
  5. Get a pet travel document

What does the law say?

The rules that apply to Great Britain (England, Wales and Scotland) are the following:

You can enter or return to Great Britain with your pet cat, dog or ferret if it:

With regard to the UK health certificate, this needs to be up-to-date and issued before departure.

After your pet arrives in the UK, you will need to regularly get booster vaccinations for your pet.

Your pet may be put into quarantine for up to 4 months if you do not follow these rules and you will be responsible for any fees or charges. So, if you want to smoothly transfer your pet, please pay close attention to the requirements that we have outlined and explained below.

What does this mean?

1) Microchip

This usually has to be done by a vet (someone trained in microchipping, or assessed on an approved training course).

The microchip details must be put into the pet’s passport or its health certificate.

The microchip has to meet the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) standards (i.e. ISO 11784 and ISO 11785). And of course, the microchip has to be readable.

An alternative option that you may choose to opt for is to tattoo the pet with an identification number that is clear and legible (and the pet would need to be vaccinated against rabies after the tattooing date).

2) Pet passport or a Health certificate?

A pet passport is needed if the pet will come from an EU country or from one of the following:

  • Andorra
  • Azores and Madeira
  • Canary Islands
  • French Guiana
  • Gibraltar
  • Greenland and the Faroe Islands
  • Guadeloupe
  • Iceland
  • Liechtenstein
  • Martinique
  • Mayotte (French territory)
  • Monaco
  • Norway
  • Réunion (French territory)
  • Saint Barthélemy (French Territory)
  • San Marino
  • Saint Martin (French part of the island – French territory)
  • Switzerland
  • Vatican City State

Whilst, a Great Britain pet health certificate (‘UK Health Certificate’) is needed if the pet will come from one of these countries (or if the above-mentioned countries do not issue a pet passport):

  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Argentina
  • Aruba
  • Ascension Island
  • Australia
  • Bahrain
  • Barbados
  • Belarus
  • Bermuda
  • BES Islands (Bonair, Saint Eustatius and Saba)
  • Bosnia-Herzegovina
  • British Virgin Islands
  • Canada
  • Cayman Islands
  • Chile
  • Curaçao
  • Falkland Islands
  • Fiji
  • French Polynesia
  • Hong Kong
  • Jamaica
  • Japan
  • Malaysia
  • Mauritius
  • Mexico
  • Montserrat
  • New Caledonia
  • New Zealand
  • North Macedonia
  • Russian Federation
  • Saint Maarten
  • Singapore
  • St Helena
  • St Kitts and Nevis
  • St Lucia
  • St Pierre and Miquelon
  • St Vincent and The Grenadines
  • Taiwan
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • United Arab Emirates
  • USA (includes American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico and the US virgin Islands)
  • Vanuatu
  • Wallis and Futuna

There are more rules if you’re bringing a cat to the UK from Australia, or a cat or a dog from Malaysia. Have a look here.

If your country was not listed, you’ll need a Great Britain pet health certificate. Your pet will also have to follow the same rules on rabies, vaccination and blood tests as for other countries.

The third option is to obtain an Animal Health Certificate (AHC) issued in Great Britain – valid up to 4 months after it was issued.

3) Rabbies vaccination, boosters and blood tests

a) Rabbies

You must get your dog, cat or ferret vaccinated against rabies before it travels. Your pet should be at least 12 weeks old before getting vaccinated. This should be an ‘inactivated vaccine’ or ‘recombinant vaccine’.

If you are from one of the countries mentioned above, you must wait 21 days after the first vaccination.

If you are travelling from a country that was not mentioned, your pet must have a blood sample taken at least 30 days after the rabies vaccination. See further rules on blood tests here.

b) Booster vaccinations

You need to get regular booster vaccinations for your pet regardless of which country they come from. Your pet passport or health certificate should also tell you when the booster vaccination is due.

Alternatively, get an Animal Health Certificate if your pet needs a booster vaccination while you’re in Great Britain.

c) Vaccination record

You should also keep a vaccination record in your pet’s passport or health certificate.

4) Tapeworm treatment for dogs

A vet must treat your dog for tapeworm and record it in the pet passport or health certificate every time you bring it to Great Britain. The treatment should be given within a 24hr – 120hr period, before you enter Great Britain.

If you’re leaving the UK for a short trip, your dog must be treated by a vet before you go and must return within 120 hours.

5) Up-to-date UK health certificate (prior to departure)

In addition to the above, it is really important that you have an up-to-date UK veterinary health certificate issued before departure. This certificate needs to show that you pet has had an examination and is healthy with no symptoms of infectious diseases and without visible external parasites.

If you are travelling with your pet

If you are coming from the EU and your pet has an EU Pet Passport then the UK Health certificate is not necessary. However, if you are coming from a non-EU country, you must have a Non-Commercial UK Health Certificate completed within 10 days before departure.

If you are not travelling with your pet

If you are not travelling within 5 days of your pet travelling (or your pet is travelling for a commercial purpose such as sale or transfer of ownership), you must have an up-to-date veterinary health certificate issued 48 hours max. before departure.

Finally check the website of the airline that you are travelling with – as they may have additional requirements.

Further guidance

6) Guide and assistance dogs

Guide and assistance dogs must also meet the normal rules mentioned for travelling with dogs. However, people with assistance dogs can travel on more routes than people with pets and can use other forms of transport, for example the aircraft cabin.

7) Approved routes

You can only use certain travel routes and companies to enter Great Britain (England, Wales and Scotland) – check the routes before you travel.

8) Bringing more than 5 pets

If you are a huge pet lover and want to bring more than 5 pets to Great Britain, unfortunately we have bad news for you – this is not generally allowed. However, if the purpose of their visit is for training for a competition, show or a sporting event, it will be allowed, as long as you show written evidence of registration for the event when you travel. Similar rules will apply as discussed, but the pets need to be over 6 months old.

9) Other animals

If your pet is not a dog, cat or ferret, there are separate rules which you must follow when bringing them to the UK, which you can read here. These can include reptiles, amphibians and invertebrates.

There are separate rules for horses too. 

If you are bringing a non-native pet to the UK, please consider these rules.

10) Pet food

Like rules for bringing your pet to the UK, there are also rules for what kind of food you may bring to the UK, check this here.

11) Quarantine

If you’re travelling to the UK you might need to quarantine because of coronavirus (COVID-19). These rules are constantly changing, so check the rules on quarantining when you arrive in the UK. There are further rules for when you’re quarantining in a hotel, having arrived from a red list country – check these here.

The rules are slightly different for transporting ferrets to England from a red or amber list country, requiring ferrets to be kept apart from other ferrets and people from other households for 21 days.

The quarantine, is unfortunately, quite restricting. You cannot leave the place you’re staying in while you quarantine and cannot take your pet out, including to go for walks or to the vet.

This is why it’s important that you check the rules on quarantining when you arrive in the UK (we suggest you do so before too).

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Post Author

Arina Kalyavina

Arina Kalyavina

Arina works as a paralegal at Kadmos Consultants. She holds a Bachelors degree from Durham University in Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE), and a Masters degree in International Public Policy from UCL.

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