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if your pet was given a 3-year vaccination right after the microchip that is now in its second or third year, it is no longer valid for entry into the UK.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 Jaime Patterson on October 8, 2018 at 2:23 pm

Hi there!We will be moving our family, including our 55 pound dog, from the US to Scotland in the summer of 2020. Our dog is quite skittish so I'm wondering if you have any tips or tricks to help make the trip easier for her. She gets carsick (both ends, totally awesome) so I know she is going to totally freak out on a plane without her people around.Thank you! Jaime

By Maegan at PetRelocation on October 9, 2018 at 1:51 pm

Hi Jaime! That sounds less than ideal for your poor pup. We do have quite a few tips but the main tip is practicing putting your dog in their travel crate with the door closed for small increments of time while you are home. This combined with a positive attitude helps make it less of a big deal to go inside the crate when you are not home. Here is more information about acclimating your pet to their travel crate. Hope this helps & please let us know if we can be of assistance when the time comes!

By Rick on September 25, 2018 at 10:26 am

Hello,We're planning to move to England with our Bengal cat who will be about 1 year old by the time we do so from Moscow, Russia. I've heard that it particulary difficult to bring Bengals to the UK. Do they need a pedigree certificate to prove he's not hybrid (F2,F3 etc) and what happens if we dont have one?Thanks.

By Maegan at PetRelocation on September 28, 2018 at 11:33 am

Hi Rick! You will need your cat's pedigree lineage stating he is at least 5 generations removed from the wild. Whenever you purchased him from the breeder, they should have given you a blue slip to register him with If you have not registered him yet with TICA, you can send the blue slip to TICA at stating you need to register him. Once TICA has confirmed he is registered with them, then you can obtain the lineage from them. Hope this helps!

By Tammy Haylock on September 15, 2018 at 1:08 pm

I want to relocate to the UK from South Africa and take my 3 cats with me. Could you please tell me.what is needed, cost involved and whether they can travel on the same flight as me. Thanks Tammy

By Maegan at PetRelocation on September 28, 2018 at 11:40 am

Hi Tammy! The UK requires all pets to travel as "manifest cargo" on their own plane ticket. This means you must have an authorized pet shipper book your cats' flight. Each moves are customized to fit the needs of our clients, but you can use this guide to determine costs involved. Hope this helps!

By Tom on September 2, 2018 at 9:04 am

Hello, we are relocating back to the UK from the US with our dog. We were hoping to take a 2 week vacation on leaving the US on the way back to UK and send our pet to my parents home, but we understand there is the 5 day rule for travel with the dog. Would it be possible for one of us to fly back to UK within the 5 days and then fly back out to meet the family on vacation? Is there any need to stay in the UK for a period of time after flying in? And, is it possible for the dog to be delivered to our parents home without one of there? Many thanks for your advice!

By Maegan at PetRelocation on September 4, 2018 at 11:14 am

Hi Tom! Customs will just want to see a copy of the e-itinerary showing that someone in your family has arrived within 5 days of your pet into the UK. You do not need to stay in the UK and we can definitely deliver your pup to your parents! If you'd like a consultation with our UK Specialist, Catie Cox, about our services, please fill out our Arrange A Move form here. Looking forward to speaking with you soon!

By John Cooper on September 1, 2018 at 10:56 am

I will be relocating from the USA to UK in January 2019. My dog is already microchipped (since he was a puppy). Last week I got him a 3-year Rabies shot. The vet gave me a rabies certificate but because their pre-formed certificate had no spot for the microchip number she just hand wrote the number on the certificate and signed next to the number as well as at the bottom of the certificate. Will this hand written microchip number be acceptable? Thank you

By Maegan at PetRelocation on September 4, 2018 at 11:16 am

Hi John! A hand-written chip number is fine and the vet was correct to sign next to the number. Your vet will also need to indicate the implant date of the chip, or if that's not known, a date when the chip was scanned prior to the current rabies vaccination. Our team specializes in moves to & from the UK so if you'd like to learn more about our services, please fill out our Arrange A Move form here. Hope this helps!

By Lilya on August 28, 2018 at 2:45 am

Hi! I’m going to move to UK from Ukraine with my dog approximately in November 2018 (dog will be 8 months in November), shi-tzu. Is it possible to travel by plane with dog from Ukraine (Kiev, Borispol airport) to UK? Dog will have all Ukrainian vet documents. But lots of people in internet say that entry to UK of any dog from Ukraine is forbidden, only by car, r/w, bus. Is this true?

By Christina at PetRelocation on August 28, 2018 at 12:12 pm

Hi Lilya!

Yes, your dog may go on a plane as long as you meet all of the import requirements for the UK. Since Ukraine is an unlisted country, you will need to make sure and follow these steps as you prepare to move. Our UK team specializes in managing moves to and from there, so if you would like a consultation feel free to contact us at your convenience!

By Ashley on August 14, 2018 at 5:31 pm

Under the guidelines at the top of the page it says that the rabies vaccine must be at least 21 days old. On another website it says the rabies vaccine has to be less than 21 days old. I'm finding it hard to find any clarifying information on the internet. Does the rabies vaccine have to be administered before or after 21 days of arrival?

By Maegan at PetRelocation on August 20, 2018 at 10:31 am

Hi Ashley - we understand this is a confusing process! The rabies vaccination must be at least 21 days old by time of departure, so it must be given before your pet leaves the country. If the rabies vaccine is a 3 year vaccine, the vaccine must be given within the last year. Hope that makes sense! We have a team dedicated to relocating pets to the UK so if you are looking to hire a company like ours to navigate this process feel free to reach out to us for clarification!

By Jamie Broaddus on August 4, 2018 at 6:07 pm

Hi there! I will be moving to London in two years, and I've begun to look into the process for taking my cat with me, as I know it can be complicated. My cat has traveled with me on airplanes within the U.S. many time, so I assumed I would be able to take her onboard with me (in an airline-approved carrier, of course). However, I'm finding conflicting information regarding whether or not a cat can be transported in the cabin during transcontinental flights from the U.S. to the U.K. Are there airlines that allow this, or does the U.K. require cats to be kept in the hold during those transcontinental flights? Thank you for any help you can provide!

By Maegan at PetRelocation on August 6, 2018 at 3:01 pm

Hi Jamie! Thanks for your question. The UK requires all pets to arrive as "manifest cargo" on their own plane ticket. This is perfectly safe as long as your cat is healthy and we are choosing a pet-safe airline. When you are ready to get started & you'd like more information about how our services work, please fill out our arrange a move form here and a member of our UK team will contact you. Looking forward to speaking with you soon!

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