Moving pets to the UK can be a challenging and stressful process, but with the help of up-to-date information, expert advice, and plenty of time and patience, this exciting journey can be carried out safely.
To help you start to plan a streamlined move, we've answered these frequently asked questions about pet travel across the pond.
Where do I start?
If traveling to the UK with a pet is in your future, you’ll want to start by doing a little research. The UK imposes different rules depending on where you’re coming from, so check with an official source—we suggest the UK’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) — to find out what specific guidelines you’ll need to follow.
Does my pet need a microchip?
Yes, all pets entering the UK need a microchip that was implanted before the rabies vaccine was administered. Your PetRelocation Specialist will guide you through this process to ensure that mistakes are avoided and the import process begins correctly, but here's a look at what to expect:
- The microchip should be ISO compatible (we often recommend HomeAgain microchips).
- The microchip can be implanted the same day as the rabies vaccine is administered.
- To avoid complications, have your vet note the date the microchip was implanted on the health certificate.
- Finally, if you're starting the import process and already have a microchip, have your vet scan it prior to administering the rabies vaccine to make sure it’s functioning properly.
What’s the difference between “listed and “unlisted” countries?
Pets coming from a country that the UK considers 'unlisted' can likely still travel smoothly into the country, however you will simply need to allow more time because the process usually takes about four months. Your pet travel specialist can help to walk you through the steps and ensure that you avoid delays and quarantine by following all rules correctly.
Can I fly with my pet?
Your pet will most likely travel to the UK on a pet friendly cargo flight, and it’s not necessary for you to be on the same plane. Especially if you’re planning to hire assistance with your move (which will make for a much less stressful journey), it’s usually much easier to plan your own trip independently of your pet’s.
What about this “Five Day Rule” I heard about?
Currently the UK requires that pets travel within five days of their owner or guardian (this rule is meant to deter commercial shipments). If you have questions about this, please contact your assigned PetRelocation Specialist.
What is the arrival process like in the UK?
All pets entering the UK will arrive at the Heathrow Animal Reception Centre. Here they will be released from their kennel (in a safe and secure environment) and will then be inspected and cleared through customs. This process typically takes a few hours, and pet owners can either choose to pick up their pets themselves or leave this task to their assigned pet travel agent.
What else should I do to prepare?
In addition to understanding the import requirements and preparing accordingly, it’s also important to help your pet get used to the crate as much as possible. Crate training greatly helps pets enjoy a less anxious flight experience and it’s one of the kindest and smartest things you can do as a pet owner preparing for a move.