ALERT: Due to the current challenges in securing space at Heathrow Animal Reception Center (HARC), for customs clearance, PetRelocation is suspending all move plans with flight arrivals into London. Advance reservations for the HARC were introduced at the onset of COVID and has been compounded by space filling up extremely fast due to summer travel. The airlines are giving priority to pet owners traveling on the same flight or day as their pet(s), however this is still not a guarantee the pet will get a reservation at the HARC. The airline options for import into the UK allow cargo flight bookings within 14 days of travel, which has led to a very frustrating experience for all, to learn when space is not available at the HARC right before travel. Once summer travel passes, we are hopeful we will be able to resume travel for pets into London again.
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What to Know Before Moving Dogs and Cats to the UK
Microchip and Vaccinations
Make sure your pet meets these basic requirements so you can begin the import process.
The United Kingdom requires endorsed import documentation that your veterinarian must complete.
The 5-Day Rule (and more)
Have you heard about the United Kingdom 5-Day Rule? Learn about this and other factors that could affect your move.
United Kingdom Import Requirements and Timeline
Microchip and Vaccinations
Time frame: we recommend starting at least 30 days ahead
All pets entering the United Kingdom must be microchipped and vaccinated. Read more below for specific details and requirements.
How to start the process of moving your pet to the United Kingdom
Each pet shall be identified by means of a microchip. No other form of identification is acceptable. The microchip used should comply with ISO Standard 11784 or Annex A to ISO standard 11785. The United Kingdom currently accepts AVID 9 and AVID 10 in addition to ISO. The microchip must be implanted before the rabies vaccine is administered.
All pets must have an original Rabies Certificate signed by the vet. The Rabies vaccine must be at least 21 days old at the time of the final health exam and endorsement.
Further details regarding the rabies vaccine:
- Pets may travel to the United Kingdom with a current one year vaccine (also known as a “primary” vaccine).
- Pets may travel to the United Kingdom with a 3 year vaccine that was administered less than a year ago (otherwise it may be considered a booster).
- Dogs must be treated for tapeworms within 120 hours of arriving into the United Kingdom.
Other recommended vaccines include:
- Dogs: Distemper, Hepatitis, Leptospirosis, Parainfluenza and Parvovirus (DHLPP) and Bordetella.
- Cats: Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis, Calicivirus and Panleukopenia (FVRCP).
These should be valid at the time of import and administered no less than two weeks before export date for maximum effectiveness.
Time frame: Within 10 days prior to departure (non-commercial)
At this stage, we provide detailed templates for your veterinarian and answer any questions regarding the proper completion of all forms.
Proper paperwork prevents hangups at customs
EU Health Certificate
This will be provided by your dedicated relocation coordinator. This is the standard Health Certificate to be filled out by your accredited veterinarian and must be signed in a different color than that of the certificate's printing (usually blue ink). This certificate is valid for 10 days from the date of issue by the official veterinarian until the date of the checks at the EU point of entry. For the purpose of further movements within the EU,
The forms below must be sent to your local USDA for their stamp of approval. Please contact your PetRelocation Specialist to learn more about best way of managing this.
- Microchip Implantation Record
- Rabies Certificate
- EU Vet Health Certificate
- Airline Health Certificate
Your vet should have these in stock. It’s a good idea to call ahead and ask. This is an international health certificate that needs to be completed by your vet within 10 days of departure.*
*The time frame for this changes within the context of a commercial move. Please read below for more information on the 5-day rule and commercial move requirements.
The 5-Day Rule (and more)
Important information to keep your move on track.
Before you bring your dog or cat to the United Kingdom, make sure you're aware of regulations unique to the UK and other EU countries!
What to know about about commerical moves and breed bans
The EU 5-Day Rule
In order for pets to fly “non-commercially,” they must fly within five days of their owner. If you are unable to meet this 5-Day Rule, the move can still be carried out but it will be considered a commercial move, which increases costs and changes the EU import requirements and timeline. If you are unable to fly within 5 days of your pets, you will need to meet stricter import requirements. Contact your relocation coordinator to discuss commerical moves.
Banned breeds in the United Kingdom
Not all dog breeds are allowed in this country. You may not be able to bring your pet if they are one of the following breeds (or a mix of one):
- Pit Bull Terrier
- Japanese Tosa
- Dogo Argentino
- Fila Braziliero (Brazilian Mastiff)
Dogs that arrive in the United Kingdom that resemble the above breeds could be seized by the authorities and returned to their place of origin at the owner's expense.
Unlisted Countries and additional requirements
Are you coming from an “unlisted country”? If so, your pet will need a rabies antibody test, known as a titer. In this case, you must follow the below steps:
- Microchip and rabies vaccination (at least 30 days old prior to blood draw)
- Rabies antibody test performed by an accredited veterinarian and sent to an EU-approved laboratory
- You must wait 90 days after the blood draw (assuming a passing result) before completing export paperwork
Find out if your origin country is listed here.