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 Laura Hewitt on June 18, 2018 at 12:14 am

My Canadian wife and I (I'm a British citizen) are moving back to the UK in 2019 with our cats and dogs. I understand the rabies vaccines obviously but what other vaccines are necessary. I just want to be sure all of our ducks are in a row. Thanks so much

By on June 18, 2018 at 10:33 am

Hi Laura! The biggest requirement for pets traveling from Canada to the UK is that a microchip must be implanted prior to the most recent rabies vaccination. All other vaccinations are just recommended and not required. Feel free to check out the requirements for relocating pets to the UK here and once you have confirmed travel plans, we'd be happy to help with their transport!

By Carol on May 31, 2018 at 8:21 am

We are considering moving to UK from Australia next year and thought it would be a good idea if my husband and I went over to England first to organise rental accommodation that permits a small dog. Our dog would stay with friends in Australia until accommodation was found and then flown over shortly after. Is that permissible as I've been reading about the five-day rule? Thank you.

By on June 6, 2018 at 3:03 pm

Hi Carol! If your pet does not travel within 5 days of you to the UK, this means your pet's relocation will be considered "commercial" which means additional vet work & paperwork on the origin side of the move. Also, when a pet arrives into the UK as a "commercial shipment" you will need to pay additional taxes & fees for import. So, it is possible to relocate your pet after you arrive, the logistics are just a bit tougher! Hope this helps!

By Sarah Schmelig on May 29, 2018 at 6:58 am

Hello - I have a question in regards to the 5 day rule and whether or not a move can be considered non-commercial. I have been a resident of the UK for one year but was unable to bring by dog over on my initial move. I will be relocating her later this year at which time I will have been a resident for 14+ months. Even if I will be flying on the same flight as her when I do bring her over (within the 5 day rule?), would it be considered a commercial move? If so, what are the increases in costs and changes to the import requirements and timeline?

By on May 29, 2018 at 3:54 pm

Hi Sarah! As long as you are arriving into the country within 5 days of her (even if you are already a UK resident) it will be considered a "non-commercial" move. Customs will likely just want a copy of your e-ticket itinerary showing your arrival date. Hope this helps!

By Sarah on May 30, 2018 at 4:42 am

This helps a ton, thank you for responding!!

By She.lley on May 25, 2018 at 2:16 pm

Hi there,My husband and i are returning to the UK from the US. Our dog had a two year rabies vaccine in the UK to go to the US. She then had a three year booster before the vaccine expired. We plan to travel to the UK within the first year of the three year vaccine. Does that qualify? Thanks for being there to ask these things.

By on May 29, 2018 at 2:58 pm

Hi Shelley! As long as your dog has had a rabies vaccination within the year of travel, it is at least 21 days old by time of import & was administered after her microchip, then your pup is acceptable entry into the UK. If we can assist with her relocation, feel free to fill out our Arrange A Move Form Here and a consultant will reach out to you about your move. Thanks!

By Kathy F. on May 17, 2018 at 7:52 am

Hi, under "Additional Details" you state this: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.=== I understand from everything I've read elsewhere that the health certificate needs to be issued within 10 days of departure, and the tapeworm treatment between 1 and 5 days. I'm not sure what final vet visit this refers to. Can you clarify? We'll be flying from the US to the UK, having flown the same dog here less than four years ago. Thanks.

By on May 18, 2018 at 9:36 am

Hi Kathy - Great question! This vet visits within 48 hours of departure is only a requirement if your pets are not traveling within 5 days of you. However, for non-commercial moves, in an effort to reduce vet visits cost & logistics, we combine as many vet visits into one as possible for our clients. If you prefer, you can definitely set up two different vet visits (one 10 days prior to departure to issue the health certificate), send it off for USDA endorsement, then bring your pet back to the vet for a second vet visit (1-5 days prior to departure to give a tapeworm treatment). Our team specializes in moves to the UK so if you're looking to hire a company for help, please fill out our Arrange A Move form here and someone will contact you for a consultation. Hope this helps to clarify!

By Helen Knowles on April 30, 2018 at 5:15 am

I am returning to the UK from Italy with a cat this summer. She has had a pet passport for all the years overseas and had her regular rabies jabs. Last year her vet gave her the one year rabies jab. She is due another jab before we leave. Will a one year vaccination be OK to give her or do I have to give her a three year jab? She will not be going overseas again once we return to UK. She is very old! Thanks!

By Gillian Howell on April 27, 2018 at 11:28 am

I am thinking about bringing my cat to the UK from Jamaica but am confused about the rule of the rabies injection. The UK gov site states 'If you’re travelling from Jamaica, you must have your pet microchipped and vaccinated in a different non-EU listed country or put your pet into quarantine.' I have enquired about microchipping my cat in Jamaica, no problem, but when I asked about a rabies shot they said we don't do them as we are a rabies free country. So does this mean I have to take my cat to a rabies country first (after the microchip is inserted) just to be given the rabies shot or what???? Help, I'm confused but want to make sure I follow all the rules so she doesn't have any issues on entry to the UK. Thanks in advance for any help you can give me in understanding this 'rule'.

By on April 30, 2018 at 3:29 pm

Hi Gillian! Yes, in order to avoid quarantine you will need to get your cat microchipped and vaccinated against rabies in an approved country like the US or a nearby island that is classified as such. From there you will need to wait the required 21 days after vaccination and get the export paperwork prepared for your cat's move. Hope this helps!

By Paul on April 17, 2018 at 12:40 am

Hi, Lota of usefull info, but am a little vague on ToR. My wife and I are UK citizens, currently working in Riyadh. We were 'adopted' by a cat that went on to bring her 2 kittens to our front door - and then all moved in with us. We want to bring them all back to the UK, probably early 2019, when we move back. Although we are working here, our place of residence [council tax, utilities etc] is still our UK address, which we still visit occasionally. Is a ToR still required?

By on April 19, 2018 at 1:50 pm

Hi Paul, thanks for your comment. Here are the list of the requirements according to DEFRA.It seems as if your pets were not listed on the TOR paperwork originally, you will need to apply for a TOR and list them on this document in order to avoid paying the VAT taxes. We'd suggest reaching out to DEFRA directly to confirm the next steps for this specific situation. Their phone number is 01144 3000 588454. Hope this helps!

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