The United Kingdom is a frequent destination for pet travel, which is why we cover the rules and requirements for importing pets there often. While there is no quarantine for cats and dogs in the UK if the import steps are followed correctly, building a safe and smooth move plan for your pet can be a delicate process.

Take a look at a few of our guidelines below to make sure you have plenty of information to successfully bring your dog or cat to the UK.

Need an expert to help plan your pet’s move? Contact us to set up a consultation with our UK pet travel team.

Pet Import Requirements for the UK

Because the UK is considered a rabies-free country, the import requirements must be strictly followed to prevent quarantine upon arrival. The order in which these requirements must be completed is:

  1. Microchip (implanted and scanned)
  2. Rabies Vaccination and Certificate (must be at least 21 days old prior to travel)
  3. Rabies Antibody Titer Test (if you’re coming from an “unlisted country”)
  4. EU Health Certificate (Annex IV)
  5. Tapeworm Treatment (for dogs only)
  6. Endorsement of Paperwork

The rabies vaccination rules became stricter in 2017, as DEFRA began enforcing that the primary rabies vaccination (the one given right after the microchip) must either be a 1-year vaccination or a 3-year vaccination still within the first year when the pet travels. This means that if your pet was given a 3-year vaccination right after the microchip that is now in its second or third year, it is no longer valid for entry into the UK.

Also, the UK is now requiring pets to be covered under a “Transfer of Residency” (ToR) declaration in order to avoid Customs VAT upon arrival. To be clear, a ToR number is not required to import your pet into the UK -- however, you will need to pay the Customs VAT if you do not have a ToR number at the time of your pet’s arrival. You can read more about the new rabies requirements and the ToR updates in this blog.

EU Pet Passports

Many people believe that their pet needs an EU Pet Passport to travel to the UK. Although an EU Pet Passport does simplify the process, it is not necessary for importing pets into the UK. An EU Pet Passport can only be issued by an official veterinarian in the European Union (EU) so if your pet is coming from another country outside of the EU and does not have an EU Pet Passport yet, you’ll need to follow the above-listed requirements.

Pets that have an EU Pet Passport with an expired rabies vaccination listed or a vaccination that was updated by a veterinarian who was not in the EU will also be required to follow the import steps listed above.

On the other hand, if your pet does have an EU Pet Passport and the rabies vaccination was recorded by an EU veterinarian and is still valid, your pet will only need the EU Pet Passport to travel to the UK. The airline your pet is traveling with may still require a health check within 10 days of travel to ensure your pet is okay to fly, but an endorsement of this health certificate is not required.

Commercial vs. Non-Commercial Pet Travel

If you’re planning pet travel to the UK (or anywhere in the EU), you’ve probably heard of the 5-Day Rule. Since 2014, pet owners must travel to the UK within five days of their pet’s arrival in order to avoid the move being labeled as a “commercial” shipment. While you can still import your pet as a commercial shipment, the health certificate will be different, the timeline for completing the health certificate is much tighter, and the import taxes are higher.

Commercial pet moves require a health certificate to be completed (and endorsed by a government entity) within 48 hours of the pet’s departure. If you don’t have a government office (like a USDA office in the United States, for example) nearby you may need to consider having your pet depart from a different city to make the short timeframe work.

Once your pet arrives in the UK as a commercial movement, you will be expected to pay at least 44 GBP or more depending on the size of your pet in additional DEFRA taxes. Also, the arrival process for a commercial move may take more time than a non-commercial move considering the stricter requirements.

Leaving the UK with Pets

In order to leave the UK with your pet, you’ll need to follow the pet import requirements for your destination country prior to departure. Also, depending on what country you are traveling to, you may need to obtain an export certificate from DEFRA.

Even if there is only a slight possibility that you will return to the UK in the future, we recommend getting in touch with a veterinarian to issue an EU Pet Passport before leaving the country. Furthermore, it may be a good idea to have the vet in the UK also administer a Rabies Antibody Titer Test if you plan on traveling to an unlisted country. That way, you can avoid the 3-month wait period upon your return to the United Kingdom.

Need help with your cat or dog’s move to the UK? We know planning a pet move to the UK can be an overwhelming experience -- contact us to have our UK team manage the details for you.


PetRelocation Team


Air Travel, Airlines, Microchips


Cats, Dogs




Add a Comment

By Dave on June 19, 2018 at 6:46 pm

Hi, We have a kitten (in Canada) that we would like to send to our daughter in London, UK. Is this possible/feasible/practical?

By yasmine on June 4, 2018 at 9:33 am

my cat miaows a lot when we out him in a crate will he still be allowed on the cabin with me?

By on June 5, 2018 at 2:08 pm

Hi Yasmine! Unfortunately, pets cannot arrive into the UK in-cabin. The UK requires all pets to arrive as "manifest cargo" on their own ticket in the cargo hold. This is perfectly safe, climate controlled & pressurized - as long as your cat is healthy. Also, there is an issue of comfort, and we believe that cargo travel when done correctly, is less stressful so that they are not overwhelmed by other sights, sounds or smells. If you'd like to learn more about our services & how your kitty can safely travel to the UK, please fill out our Arrange A Move Form here. Looking forward to hearing from you!

By Hilary on May 28, 2018 at 11:51 am

Hi there,I am hoping to bring my Jack Russell to the UK for a 2 year working holiday with the Tier 5 Youth Mobility Scheme. I've looked everywhere online, including emailing the contact email that is posted on the site for pet importing, and I can't seem to find out whether or not there is any legislation that prevents importing a dog while on the Tier 5 visa. I was wondering if you knew whether or not this is allowed. Thanks so much, very helpful blog.Hilary

By on May 29, 2018 at 11:15 am

Hi Hilary!

As long as you can show paperwork that you will be arriving into the UK within 5 days of your pup, you should not have any issue importing him into the UK (regardless of your visa status). The rule of thumb we follow is that unless your pets originated in the UK, they suggest applying for a Transfer of Residency (ToR). This will avoid you having to pay VAT taxes. If you don’t apply for the ToR for your pup, a fee will be imposed upon entry. You can read more about the ToR here.

My recommendation would be to reach out directly to HMRC for any additional clarification. Below is their contact information:

If you need to reach them to follow up, their phone number is 01144 3000 588454.

Hope this helps!

By Sandra Herr on May 11, 2018 at 7:09 pm

We have a rescue that has some of the physical characteristics of a pit bull, one of the breeds banned in the UK. Can we take her to the UK?

By on May 16, 2018 at 8:41 am

Hi Sandra! We have actually begun advising any owners with a pit bull mix to not attempt to import to the UK since pit bulls are banned. If pet owners do want to try to “risk it” they have to fly with the pet to Heathrow, where the pet will receive an inspection by the police and if it doesn’t pass, then it will be sent back to the States. So, it is not a great process.

There’s banned breed info here with an email address for the “Index of Exempted Dogs.” We believe only way to have your dog added to that list is for the police to seize your dog and judge whether it’s a danger to the public—not something we’d want you to risk doing (and the fine is expensive), more info about that here. However, we have another pet owner who has recommend this as a resource. Hope this has been helpful!

By Sandra Herr on May 16, 2018 at 11:48 am

Thank you for the response. The link with the recommended resource from another pet owner is not working- I get a cannot be found message.I think the part that scares me the most about everything I have read is the "your dog can be taken away even if it is not acting dangerous and there has not been a complaint."

By Anne Kathleen beech on May 3, 2018 at 6:03 pm

My dog is a small Lhasa apso she has put a bit of weight on so she is 7 kilos she is very small and I have the special carrier for her is it possible to travel in cabin with her ,and if not can we take the same flight and she could be in the hold she have all her vaccinations etc etc thank you a,beech I will be traveling on 9 th May this year to u,k with k l,m

By on May 4, 2018 at 8:47 pm

Hi Anne! The rules for importing pets into the UK are very strict. In order for them to reinforce these rules, pets must arrive as "manifest cargo" into the UK. This means they must travel in the cargo hold of an approved carrier, which is perfectly safe as long as your are choosing the right airline and your pet is healthy. We have a team dedicated to relocations to the UK so if you're interested in hiring a service to help, feel free to fill out our Arrange A Move Form here and someone from the UK team will contact you soon. Thanks!

By Nicolò on March 1, 2018 at 11:40 am

Hello, I'll move to uk on the next week, planning to stay one year or more. I should bring with me two rabbits but I really don't understand the real documents that I need. Can you suggest me a clear website or just explaine me what I need for that? Thank you in advance, Nicolò Cappelli

By on March 1, 2018 at 12:59 pm

Hello Nicolo! You can find the requirements for importing rabbits to the UK here. Hope this helps and happy travels!

By jane on February 19, 2018 at 4:29 am

we are driving to turkey with our dogs on hols with us driving through many different countires. can anyone tell me what we do about worming etc to bring them home do we worm them in turkey before leaving or can we do it in a european country we are driving through?

By on February 19, 2018 at 10:57 am

Hi Jane,

You will need to check the import requirements for each country you’ll be passing through to prevent any unexpected obstacles on your trip. You can find more information on Turkey and other countries on our website. You can also search the IPATA directory of pet shippers by country if you need guidance on ground transport. Hope this helps!

By Patrick Wicker on January 16, 2018 at 8:04 am

Hi Bethany! I'm doing a test for AMP pages!

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