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Relocating to the UK

All You Need to Know about Relocating Your Household Goods and Pets

The UK is cut off from Europe geographically and – ever more so – administratively, and therefore it is important to bear in mind that if you’re planning to relocate to the UK, this will have consequences regarding your move.

In this article, we cover important information about how to relocate to the UK. What does it take to relocate to the UK? Time, money, and a boat for shipping your things! Firstly, having to cross the sea raises the cost and difficulty of moving, even if you just load up your car and take the ferry. Also, as an island, the UK has managed to keep its territory free from the animal born disease, rabies. The UK government has achieved this by implementing strict rules about the import of animals, which are important to keep in mind if you are planning to bring your pet into the country.

Brexit will also likely increase the difficulty of relocation for European citizens. However, it doesn’t change the immigration process for expats coming from elsewhere in the world.

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Moving and Shipping Household Goods

There are various restrictions on how to move household items and belongings, such as food, cash, and medication, as well as items that are prohibited by UK customs. Understanding the rules is not always easy. We provide you with an introduction to UK customs and some resources to refer to if you need extra information.

Keeping It Tax-Free

You can import all your household goods duty- and tax-free, if:

  • You have lived in a non-EU country for at least twelve months and have had the goods in your possession for six or more months
  • You did not receive these goods under a duty/tax-free scheme
  • You don’t intend to sell, lend, or dispose of the goods in the UK during the following 12 months
  • You are moving your regular home to the EU

Household goods can include furniture, clothing, common household appliances, and other personal effects. However, tobacco products and alcohol do not fall into this category, and you will have to declare them to customs on arrival. If you are setting up a second home in the UK, you will be asked to pay VAT.

Legally Importing Medication

While the quality of medical care in the UK is high and there are lots of pharmacies and doctors in most towns and cities, you may want to bring some prescription medicine for the first few weeks or months. In this case, it is very important to carry the medication in the correctly-labeled container, keeping the package insert — or package leaflet, and to carry a letter from your doctor. A certified English translation of both the letter and the package insert may also come in handy.

Certain controlled drugs, such as Ritalin, or the strong painkiller morphine sulfate, may be imported in very limited amounts and you must have a personal license. Some potentially harmless prescription medication might still require you to apply for a license if you carry more than a three-month supply.

Follow the Laws: Restricted and Prohibited Items

The following things are either subject to certain import restrictions or are banned from the UK. Hunters or competitive marksmen should know that gun control laws in the UK are strict. If you would like to bring a hunting rifle or a similar weapon, get in touch with HMRC well before your departure to avoid any unpleasant surprises.

There are restrictions on the following items:

  • Animals or animal products, such as ivory, fur, or reptile skins
  • Endangered plants, such as orchids, mahogany, and cacti
  • Firearms, explosives, and ammunition
  • Unlicensed radio transmitters
  • Rough diamonds

You can check the exact restrictions and permitted quantities here.

It’s illegal to bring the following items into the UK:

  • Switchblades, daggers, mace sprays, stun guns, and similar weaponry
  • Illegal drugs and narcotics
  • Indecent, obscene, and pornographic media

If you have any further questions about banned and restricted items, please contact the HMRC between Monday and Friday, 8:00 to 18:00: +44 (0)292 0501261. They also have foreign language support.

Further Resources

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Home Good Storage

If you’re relocating to the UK with items you want to keep that you don’t have space for in your new home, some kind of long-term or short-term storage could be the answer.

There is a range of options to choose from. The Big Yellow Self Storage Company has stores in 97 locations around the UK. They have flexible storage for personal or business use in a range of unit sizes.

Lovespace is another UK self storage option, who ‘collect, store, and deliver’. They offer storage from 0.75 GBP per box or another item per week. They also offer free collection and delivery from and to any UK address.

Moreover, there’s a useful website, called Storage Price Comparison, which compares prices of different storage options by ZIP code. It gives you a list of storage centers in the postal code area and tells you their cost for different storage space sizes.

Vaccinations and Health Requirements for the UK

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) suggest the following vaccinations required for the UK:

  • Hepatitis A
  • Hepatitis B
  • Rabies
  • Meningitis
  • Polio
  • Measles, Mumps, and rubella (MMR)
  • Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis)
  • Chickenpox
  • Shingles
  • Pneumonia and influenza

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Moving with Pets

As a nation of animal lovers, moving to the UK with pets should be a fairly simple transition. From cat cafes to dog-friendly pubs, to numerous parks for walking and relaxing, your pet can enjoy their stay as much as you will.

If you’re worrying, “Can I bring my pets into the UK?”, there are a few things you need to know.

Preparations for Your Pet Relocation to the UK

To begin with, you need a pet passport when crossing the border, whether for cats or dogs. The passport must be issued by your vet before travel and it needs to have a clear indication of the following:

  • Pet’s date of birth
  • Microchip number
  • Vaccination date (including vaccine’s details)
  • Vet’s signature and details

Normally, the passport itself would cost up to 30 EUR, plus the vet consultation, vaccination, microchipping, etc. Please refer to your vet for these additional costs as each vet will vary in price. Dogs must be treated by a vet for tapeworm one to five days before entering the UK, and the procedure must be noted by the vet in the dog’s pet passport.

One of the most important things to remember about bringing your cat or dog to the UK is microchipping them as border regulations stand very strong in this country. In fact, your pet must be microchipped with a 15-digit chip or tattooed (dogs only). Please note the tattoo needs to be visible for scanning as border control is strict.

When your pet is entering the United Kingdom, it would also require a rabies vaccination. After they receive their vaccination, they would need to wait 21 days before travel. If your dog, cat or ferret has a current rabies vaccination but no microchip, it will have to be vaccinated again after the microchip is implanted and the animal will only be able to enter after 21 more days.

Should you wish to bring a puppy or a kitten over 12 weeks old, all the above apply. Unfortunately, any unvaccinated puppies and kittens under 12 weeks of age are not allowed to enter the UK.

Finally, when preparing for travel, it is important to make prior arrangements with your traveling company. Eurostar, for example, does not allow any pets aboard (except for guide dogs). Eurotunnel allows your pets to be boarded for 18 GBP/25 EUR each. Please note, this fee applies to each dog, cat or ferret in your vehicle. Pets traveling by air must go through Border Inspection Posts in London Heathrow or London Gatwick.

Prohibited Breeds

Other border restrictions depend on your pet’s breed. The following dog breeds and their crossbreeds are not permitted to enter the UK:

  • Brazilian Fila
  • Dogo Argentino
  • Japanese Tosa Inu
  • American Staffordshire Pit Bull Terrier

Please double check the technical term of your dog’s breed (for more information, please refer to Dangerous Dogs Act 1991.). Hybrid cats, such as the Savannah breed, are also forbidden from entry.

Life as a Pet Owner in the UK

One challenge you may experience is with pets in the UK is accommodation. You’ll find that many landlords are reluctant to keep a pet in their home. Most of them worry about potential damage done to the property.

On the other hand, if you do find a landlord that agrees, be prepared to take responsibility for any damage your pet causes. They will most likely introduce a pet clause in your tenancy agreement in order to ensure the tenant is responsible for keeping the place clean at all times. Moreover, most landlords ask for a deposit, as well as the first month’s rent up front, to cover potential damages.

Once you’ve settled in the UK and want to go away for a few days, you can always think about leaving your furry friend for a few nights in the company of a pet sitter. They’ll make sure they take care of the overnight boarding at their home or come to yours so you won’t have to worry about travel arrangements.

Do you want to relocate? If you have never moved abroad, the process will be overwhelming, and if you have, you know the burden that lies ahead. Whatever stage you are at, InterNations GO! can help you with a comprehensive range of relocation services, such as home finding, school search, visa solutions, and even pet relocation. Our expert expat team is ready to get your relocation going, so why not jump-start your move abroad and contact us today? Best to start early!

Update on: July 17, 2019

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