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 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 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 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!

By Graham Cummings on July 11, 2018 at 11:13 pm

My wife and I came to Australia in Nov 2017 on a one year holiday visa to visit our daughters with our 2 dogs, we fulfilled all travel health checks and rabies injections. We are returning to UK in Oct 2018 after an 11 month stay, we are being told that we require a ToR or have to pay VAT is this correct as it was never a permanent move but an extended holiday after retirement. All vaccinations are up to date. Many thanks for any help

By on July 16, 2018 at 12:04 pm

Hi Graham! If you originally exported your pets from the UK, you can show returned goods relief to the customs agents in the UK. Typically they just want to see the airway bill from the first trip showing your pets originated in the UK and traveled from the UK to Australia - and are now just coming home!. Doing this will avoid having to pay VAT taxes or filling out a TOR. Hope this helps!

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!

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