Anyone familiar with transporting pets internationally knows that country rules and requirements tend to change quite a bit.

For example, the UK has made several big changes over the last few years, and in early 2017 made some particularly impactful adjustments for pets traveling across the pond.

Moving to the UK with pets? Here's what you need to know.

Change #1: Rabies Vaccine Requirements for the UK

Pets can enter the UK with a one year rabies vaccine as a primary (primary = the first rabies vaccine given after the microchip) OR a two or three year primary vaccine that has been administered within one year of departure. There are no exceptions to this rule.

Additional Details:

  • The rabies vaccine must be at least 21 days old at the time of the pet's final health exam before departure.

  • The vaccine must have been administered after the microchip was implanted.

  • This rule applies to pets coming from EU countries and listed countries such as the United States—if you're coming from an unlisted country, stricter rules will apply.

  • Example Scenario: If a pet has a microchip implanted and is then given a three year rabies vaccination, the vaccination must be within its first year when the pet arrives in the UK. Otherwise, the pet would need another vaccination in order for it to be considered valid.

Change #2: The “Transfer of Residency” Declaration

This declaration, sometimes referred to as the ToR, replaces the C5 Customs Form. Pet owners can either secure this form before travel or pay a tax upon arrival.

Additional Details:

  • This new rule applies to all imported goods, not just pets.

  • Pet owners should apply to the ToR in advance, as we've noticed it takes two weeks to 30 days to process.

  • If you arrive without this form, Customs VAT will be payable on deposit before the pet is allowed to be released (and this can be expensive). Note that this deposit can be reclaimed upon proof of exit from the UK.

  • The form is available here and it can be submitted to

Change #3: The Five Day Rule (This rule has been in place since late 2014 but not everyone is aware of it)

Pet owners must fly within five days of their pet in order for the move to be considered “non-commercial.” If you are unable to meet this Five Day Rule, the move can still be carried out but it will be considered a commercial move, which increases costs and changes the import requirements and timeline.

Additional Details:

  • Commercial moves require an Annex I Health Certificate and additional DEFRA taxes (44 GBP) upon arrival for commercial pets.

  • The final vet visit and the day of departure must be within two days of each other, so the health certificates probably need to be endorsed in person.

Have questions? Our UK team is here to help! Read more about bringing pets to the UK and contact us if you're ready to set up a pet transport consultation.


PetRelocation Team


Air Travel, Microchips, News


Cats, Dogs




Add a Comment

By Maureen P on November 24, 2018 at 7:45 am

Hello, we are relocating with our Cocker Spaniel to England from Canada this December. He has his rabies and microchip all done. We fly out on a Monday. We have him booked with our vet to have his tapeworming done on the Friday and then go directly to the CFIA (federal vet) straight after on that same Friday. I have just seen above that 'The final vet visit and day of departure must be within 2 days of each other'. I've not seen this written anywhere else. Does this mean we need to go to the vet Again..on the Saturday? and what is meant to be done on this Final visit?? Thank you so much for your help. This is quite the minefield to work out lol

By jo on November 14, 2018 at 1:29 am

Hi. I am a UK citizen thats lived in New Zealand for 10 years.I am returning to the UK permanently with my dog next year. The dog was born in New Zealand.As I understand it, if you are MOVING to the UK and apply for a Transfer of residence for the dog you WONT have to pay vat.However, if you are RETURNING to the UK, you will HAVE to pay vat.Any ideas on whats classed as returning and moving? Been away for 10 years so im hoping its moving so i can avoid the vat.If Im classed as returning, hopefully my husband, who isnt a uk citizen would be classed as MOVING to the uk and can therefore avoid the vat?So confused and hope you can help!wouldnt mind the vat on the value of the dog but as they calculate it on the relocation costs too its going to be extortionate if we have to pay the vat!

By Maegan at PetRelocation on November 14, 2018 at 8:29 am

Hi Jo! The rule of thumb we follow is that unless your pets originated in the UK, HMRC suggests applying for a Transfer of Residency (ToR) for your pet. 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. Hope this helps!

By Robyn on November 1, 2018 at 12:40 pm

I'm confused on a couple items.1: The Rabies. Two of my cats had their 3 year rabies booster in 5/2017 and our newest addition had her 3 year booster 1/2018. We are looking to try and move back to the UK (from the US) next spring. All original shots were done after the mircrochip was implanted (at varying times of adoption process). Will they need another booster before we go? It's rather confusing. 2: The 5 day rule. We are planning on using a relocation service, but have no idea if we will make it during that time. (we hope to). However, we are having the relocation company deliver our cats to our family's house out there that we plan to move into. How does that work?

By Maegan at PetRelocation on November 2, 2018 at 12:41 pm

Hi Robyn! No worries! It is very confusing! If a pet is in year 2 or 3 of a 3-year rabies vaccine, you must prove there is a primary vaccine with no lapse between the primary and the current 3-year vaccine. The easiest thing to do is often to just get a new rabies vaccine :)

Regarding traveling within 5 days, when our clients are traveling to the UK with pets, they inform us of their preferred travel date, we book all the travel for your cats and confirm that date with you - so that pet owners can arrive within 5 days of their pets and avoid any import taxes.

We specialize in door-to-door service so can definitely deliver your cats to you once they are cleared through customs & paperwork is verified in the UK. Our team specializes in PetRelocations to the UK. If you are looking for a company like ours to manage this process on your behalf, please fill out our Arrange A Move form, and a consultant will be in touch soon. Looking forward to speaking with you!

By Jasmin on October 12, 2018 at 8:49 am

Hi, my cat is currently in the US and I’m in the UK but am not able to travel to the US to get her. Could my cat travel here without a passenger accompanying her? Would that be considered a “commercial import”? Where can I get additional information on that? TIA

By Maegan at PetRelocation on October 12, 2018 at 9:28 am

Hi Jasmin! Yes, your kitty can travel to the UK without a passenger accompanying her and this would be considered a commercial import. This means paperwork must be issued by your vet & endorsed by the USDA within 48 hours before travel. Our services will manage this process for you. Also, you will be required to use a company like ours to book her flight as all pets must arrive in the UK as manifest cargo. If you'd like more information on this process, please fill out our Arrange A Move form and a member of our UK team will reach out to you. Looking forward to speaking with you!

By Helena on October 7, 2018 at 3:48 am

Hello, I have moved to London from Sweden and want to bring my cats with me. They are micro chipped, vaccined against rabies and have passports. Should I fill in a ToR form for each of them? I also read one of your answers above about LHR not being listed on ToR, what does LHR stand for and where can I find what is listed for the ToR? I’m planning to drive them from Sweden via Eurotunnel or a ferry, would that be possible? Is there anything else I need to do apart from what I already have done? Thank you for providing this comment section! /Helena

By Maegan at PetRelocation on October 10, 2018 at 9:48 am

Hi Helena! A health certificate issued within 10 days of travel is also required for your kitties' import into the UK. Full list of requirements can be found here. LHR is the airport code for London Heathrow & is an approved entry point for pets traveling as "manifest cargo" on commercial airlines. It is important before embarking on your journey that you make sure you are using an approved route. The ToR form is available here and it can be submitted to Hope this helps!

By sharon taylor on September 5, 2018 at 11:17 pm

I am likely to move to the UK (returning citizens) with my dog from Australia. I have already moved her once from New Zealand to Australia and we went through the whole vet/immigration thing with her. Obviously I will follow the procedure but what is not clear, like transporting her from NZ to Australia, she was on the same flight and off the same flight as me and I went around to the customs clearance for dogs and took her to the new home with me, no quarantine. Is this the same for the UK? Is there are time period for the dogs to held by customs before we can collect?

By Maegan at PetRelocation on September 7, 2018 at 2:04 pm

Hi Sharon! There is no quarantine upon arrival into the UK as long as all paperwork is correct. All pets importing into the UK must arrive as "manifest cargo" on a approved airline. You will pay the airline for a customs clearance fee and they will will bring your pup into the Animal Reception Centre for customs clearance. This process can take anywhere from 2-10 hours to clear, but your pet will be in a larger run with food & water while the paperwork is reviewed. Once customs is completed, you can pick your pet up from the centre. Hope this helps!

By alys glynn on August 10, 2018 at 9:15 am

My friend is willing to bring back a dog I wish to adopt from Europe. All the microchip, rabies, passport, wormer, vet stamp we understand. The dog will have been registered when chipped to the refuge where it lives. Is there any problem with my friend not being the owner?? to enter the UK.

By Maegan at PetRelocation on August 14, 2018 at 1:28 pm

Hi Alys! If your friend is arranging for your pet to travel within 5 days of them into the UK, then they are considered the owner. If you are purchasing a dog overseas and having it shipped to you, this is considered a commercial move and you will pay taxes on this relocation. If we can be of assistance & you'd like more information about our services, please fill out our Arrange a Move Form and one of our representatives will be in touch shortly. Hope this helps!

By Ana S on August 2, 2018 at 12:06 pm

Hi all! My question is about the estimated cost of the VAT/other payable charges for a pet that arrives into the UK without a TOR form. I don’t think I will be able to get one as I cannot provide one of the required documents for the form (tenancy contract from country of origin of the pets) and would want a ballpark figure of how much I have to pay once the dogs land in the UK. They are both small dogs (yorkie mixes) and are 3kg each. Thanks!

By Ana S on August 2, 2018 at 12:09 pm

PS: I am relocating from Dubai to London!

By Maegan at PetRelocation on August 3, 2018 at 12:41 pm

Hi Ana! Rates for VAT taxes are designated by the brokers who are clearing your pets through customs & will depend on the size/value of the pets. As an example, we recently relocated 2 cats to LHR (who were not listed on the TOR) and the client paid 242 GBP in taxes. Hope this helps!

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