Pet Passports: A Guide to Bringing Your Pet to the UK

Chelsea's Pet Dachshund Apple

According to the 2013-2014 National Pet Owners Survey conducted by the American Pet Products Association (APPA) Sixty-eight percent of US households, or about 82.5 million families, own a pet. I’m one of those people in the sixty-eight percentile. I have been lucky enough to own a miniature Dachshund since she was 7 weeks old. Apple is my fur-baby, and she is part of my family. When Christopher and I met it was very important to me that they both liked and respected each other. If I had to choose between someone or my dog, I’d pick her without hesitation! Luckily for Chris, they get along very well, and it’s obvious that he loves her as much as I do.

If you’ve been following our blog you’ll know that I have been preparing to move to the UK. Growing up I’ve heard horror stories about the UK’s lengthy quarantine period before being able to have your pets enter the UK with you. In 2002 the UK had their first rabies case in a 100 years! The rabies disease was contracted through a bat bite to a person in Scotland, but that doesn’t make it any less important.

Quarantine is not a place I want Apple going. It’s emotionally hard on both you and your pet. There is little-to-no mental or physical enrichment. Not to mention it’s incredibly expensive! Here is part one of our guide to everything you need to know about brining your pet to the UK, in compliance of their Pet Travel Scheme.

Disclaimer: this is only our interpretation of the requirements. This is the guide that we will be following with our dog, Apple, but that does not mean it is complete or perfect. There is a lot to become knowledgeable about throughout the process of moving. So we would urge you to undertake your own research as well, and make sure you are familiar with the UK Pet Travel Scheme.  If you own a dog, learn how to prevent fleas in dogs since, an epidemic is amuck right now. If you have decided to go ahead with the process, congratulations, we hope that this guide helps you with moving your fur-baby to the UK.

The Pet Travel Scheme

Luckily for pet owners moving over or visiting the UK, they now can avoid putting their beloved pets through traumatising quarantine. The UK recently developed The Pet Travel Scheme (PETS). This is a government regulated system that allows pets from certain countries to enter the UK without being quarantined as long as they meet the requirements prior to entry.

This also means that people who reside in the UK can go on holiday, taking their pets around the world with them (should they go that far), and bring them back without the need for quarantine. The Scheme: only applies to pet dogs, cats, and ferrets. If you don’t meet the entry requirements, you’re responsible for any fees or charges for your pet.

Entering from the EU or a Listed Country

Pets Travelling to the UK

You Must Follow These Guidelines to Bring Your Pet to the UK

Most people looking to move their pet to the UK will be either from an EU country or a non-EU but listed country. Before proceeding any further, please check that you are from one of these countries. If not there will be extra rules and and regulations you must follow.When entering the UK from within the EU or a Listed Country your pet needs to meet all of the entry requirements listed below:

Microchip: Your pet must be microchipped before entering the UK. Be sure the microchip number can be read by scanner before and after insertion. There is no brand specifics but the microchip itself must follow the International Standards Organisation (ISO) guidelines. American and European microchips are not entirely similar, so ask your Veterinarian before scheduling an appointment for microchipping, if their microchips are ISO compliant. The microchip must be registered with your current contact information, including a cell phone number.

By April 6th of 2016, It’s mandatory in England that all dogs are microchipped.

Rabies vaccination: Your pet must be microchipped first before being vaccinated. Once microchipping is complete and the identification can be read successfully you can then have your veterinarian administer the rabies vaccine. Your pet must be vaccinated against rabies in accordance with the recommendation on the vaccine manufacturer’s data sheet.

Unfortunately, If your pet has been vaccinated against rabies before it was identified by a proper ISO microchip, it will have to be re-vaccinated for rabies again. This is to make sure that your pet is correctly identified when it is vaccinated.

Wellness Check

A Complete Wellness Check Is Performed at the Health Certificate Appointment

Pet Passport or Official Veterinary Health Certificate: A health certificate will be required for their entry into the UK. Your pet must be examined by a veterinarian in order for a health certificate to be issued. Speak to your veterinarian right away to learn more about the instruction-process for your countries health certificate as some may involve further instructions.

This certificate basically indicates your pet is healthy to travel and is not showing signs of a disease that could be passed on to other animals or to people. Certain vaccinations must be up to date in order for a health certificate to be issued. As part of the exam, your veterinarian may check for heartworm disease and prescribe heartworm preventative medication.

Tapeworm treatment (for dogs only): No earlier than 5 days prior to your dogs departure, your dog(s) must be treated against tapeworm and recorded in the EU pet passport or the official veterinary health certificate. A qualified veterinarian must be the one to administer and record the treatment. It will not be accepted if you administer and record it yourself.

Check with your veterinarian to ensure they use the correct treatment, specifically required active ingredient Praziquantel, or an equivalent product.

Approved transport company or an approved route is mandatory unless you’re travelling between the UK and the Republic of Ireland (all other rules still apply). Only certain pre-approved routes and transportation companies can be used to bring pet dogs, cats and ferrets into Great Britain under the Pet Travel Scheme. This means these routes and service provides have been approved by APHA to come into the UK. For pets arriving by air, the transport company may delegate those checks to a third party, such as an Animal Reception Centre.

Guide dogs or assistance dogs

Guide Dogs

Guide Dogs and Assistance Dogs May Travel in the Cabin

The requirements for assistance dogs travelling in the EU pet travel scheme is the same as the pet dogs. However assistance dogs have more approved routes than people travelling with pet dogs.  As being an assistant dog, they can still travel in areas on other forms of transport where other animals aren’t allowed, ex. In the aircraft cabin.

Pets entering the UK from outside the EU

Owners of pets entering the UK from outside the EU are required to complete Customs formalities. An agent, travel company or airline will do this for you for a fee. It is highly recommended to discuss these charges before you travel as they might be included as part of a package.

Other Notes

Be aware that in the UK exists a Dangerous Dogs Act.Breeds of this type are prohibited:

  • Pit Bull Terrier
  • Japanese Tosa
  • Dogo Argentino
  • Fila Brasileiro

It is important to note that, in the UK, dangerous dogs are classified by “type”, not by breed label. This means that whether a dog is considered dangerous, and therefore prohibited, will depend on a judgment about its physical characteristics, and whether they match the description of a prohibited ‘type’. This assessment of the physical characteristics is made by a court.

If you think that you and your partner are going to permanently relocate your pet, or visit the UK with them, then we would love to hear from you. We, ourselves, are going to be moving our dog to the UK once our Fiancé visa is approved, but we want to hear your experiences too. We know that people’s experiences with bringing their pet to the UK can vary, and want to provide as much information as we can to help you out! So let us know in the comments below your experiences. We’ll be covering more about pet travel to the UK soon!

– Chelsea


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Chelsea Martin

Chelsea Martin is a Certified Pet Dog Trainer (CPDT-KA) and a Certified Behaviour Adjustment Training Instructor (CBATI). She has been training dogs professionally since 2007, and is the Head Coach for Dogs Trust Dog School Nottinghamshire. She met Chris on a trip to England in 2013, Married him on New Year's Eve - celebrating 2016 as husband and wife!