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 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!

By Irma Landa on December 7, 2017 at 10:26 am

Hello! We are planning to arrive with our dog in the cabin to Paris and then cross by the Eurotunnel. Will we need the ToR? We will be here for 3 years to study,

By on December 7, 2017 at 11:06 am

Hello Irma,

VAT may still be required for your dog to enter the UK and the ToR helps prevent you from paying these taxes upon arrival. We would recommend reaching out to DEFRA directly to ensure your dog does not fall under VAT (because then you will not need the ToR). Either way, you can obtain the ToR and receive reimbursement for the VAT for up to a year after your move.

We hope this helps! Good luck with your travels!

By Patricia Spurrell on December 4, 2017 at 3:39 am

Hi - we are travelling back to the UK from Spain with our two dogs via the English Channel ferry. All passports/inoculations etc are up to date. Do we need any other paperwork?Thanks

By on December 4, 2017 at 1:15 pm

Hello Patricia,

The UK will also require a tapeworm treatment for dogs that must occur between 24 and 120 hours of arrival. You can have your vet complete this prior to your travels and note it in their passports to meet the import regulations.

Also, please ensure that your dogs' microchip was implanted prior to their latest rabies vaccination otherwise you'll be forced to revaccinate and wait another 21 days prior to travel.

Safe travels to you all!

By Katherine Taylor on November 30, 2017 at 9:25 am

Please advise where you received the information above on the rabies vaccine needing to be in one year of travel. I have scoured the site to confirm and cannot find this stated (however they seem to have lots of little rules that aren't made clear). I do not want to get my dog an extra vaccine; her 3 year was given on 11/21/16 so will only be one month over a year by the time we travel. However it is of course more important that she not be turned away or quarantined at the UK airport! Here is the site I have been referencing, and I do not see any sub-links where I might be missing the information you quote above. Thanks for your help!

By on November 30, 2017 at 10:26 am

Hello Katherine,

That information was provided to us by the Animal Reception Centre in London. However, the USDA's website now lists this information on their website here in case you'd like to reference it.

To further explain, if your dog's primary rabies vaccination (after the microchip) was a 1-year vaccine and did not lapse before she was given the 3-year vaccine, this will be acceptable as long as you provide proof of her vaccination history. Often times, though, it is difficult to provide this proof so we recommend getting a new vaccination to avoid any issues or possible quarantine.

We hope this helps! Let us know if you have any other questions.

By Sue Fisher on November 30, 2017 at 7:58 am

We have two small pets, one miniature doberman and the other a little pekingese, what is the procedure coming from south Africa to England for them to go, will they be placed in quarantine? What injections will they require etc, and what are the costs involved in South African Rands.kind regards sue

By on November 30, 2017 at 10:20 am

Hi Sue!

The requirements for importing pets to the UK can be found here. Keep in mind that South Africa is considered an "unlisted" country so there are extra steps you must complete before you can import your dogs to the UK. The good news is there is no quarantine for dogs as long as the import process is followed correctly.

Many different factors go into our quotes (like your dogs' weights and the cities you will be moving to) so we need a little more information in order to offer an accurate estimate. Please fill out our online consultation form here (don't worry, it's free!) and one of our consultants will be happy to speak with you about our service options and costs.

Thanks for reaching out and we look forward to hearing from you soon!

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