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Relocating to the UK

Pet Relocation to the UK

Your pets are your family and it is essential that their relocation be as easy and stress-free as yours. Our guide on relocating to the UK with pets will tell you everything you need to know, such as how pets from EU countries may enter the UK with only a pet passport, but pets from third-countries will need a dated veterinary certificate as well as results from a recent blood sample.

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Unless you are traveling to the UK with a rabbit or rodent from a third/non-listed country, your pet should not have to be quarantined as long as you complete all the necessary steps. These steps include microchipping your four-legged friend and displaying proof of a valid rabies vaccination.

Expats with multiple pets should be aware that you are unable to import more than five animals unless it is for competition or sporting purposes. If this applies to you, you will need to fill out this form and bring it with you when your pets arrive in the UK.

In general, Great Britain has a reputation as an animal-friendly country, and most pets are treated as cherished family members. The British Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty towards Animals (RSPCA) is the oldest and largest animal welfare organization in the world. It has championed a humane treatment of pets in the UK ever since its founding in 1824. Once your pets have been successfully relocated to the UK, keep in mind that the island country has strict laws regarding the treatment of animals. Should you mistreat or act irresponsibly towards your animal in any way, you may face a hefty fine.

In addition to keeping animals safe and healthy in their homes, the British government is also intent on protecting its human residents from animal diseases. Because of this, animals entering the UK that do not meet specific import requirements risk being quarantined for many months, deported, or, in the most extreme cases, put down.

The import of pets into the UK is regulated by the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). Before you arrive in Great Britain, it is best to check their website for any up-to-date information. This is especially import in regard to the outcome of Brexit. If the UK does not strike a deal with the EU, animals traveling from the EU to the UK may face the same import requirements as third/non-listed country nationals. If you want to ensure your beloved family pet is imported safe and sound, enlist the professional relocation services of InterNations GO! We ensure every animal is well cared for from the moment it leaves one home to the next.

How to Relocate with Your Pets

Dogs, Cats, and Ferrets

Wondering how to relocate with your dog? Your cat? Whether or not your dog, cat, or ferret has to be quarantined upon entering the UK depends both upon where it is traveling from and your preparation. If you are not fully prepared, your pet may be quarantined for a period of up to four months. During this time, all expenses such as food, quarantine space, and caretaking fees will be covered by you. Prices depend on the quarantine premises you use, but the cost will easily reach 1,000 EUR or more (1,100+ USD).

Cats, dogs, and ferrets will not have to be quarantined if

  • they have been microchipped;
  • they have been vaccinated against rabies;
  • they have a pet passport or a veterinary certificate from a third-country official.

Dogs will also require a tapeworm treatment.

UK customs will accept pet passports from EU, EEA, and EFTA countries, as well as most members states and overseas territories of the EU (called “listed countries”). For a complete list of accepted countries, please see the UK government’s website.

EU transportation organizations can read microchips that meet the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) standards ISO 11784 and ISO 11785. You may bring your own chip reader if you are worried about your pet’s microchip not being read easily, but keep in mind that if the chip cannot be read, your pet will be quarantined and you will have to start the entire import process over again.

Pets must be microchipped either before receiving their rabies vaccine or at the same time. A certified veterinarian must list your pet’s microchip in their pet passport or on the third-country veterinary certificate.

Your pet is required to enter the UK within 5 days before or after your arrival. If they do not, you will risk having them quarantined.

Animals Traveling from a Third/Non-Listed Country

The UK does not accept pet passports from third/non-listed countries. If this applies to your pet, they will need to arrive in the UK with an official veterinary certificate that lists their rabies vaccination and blood tests. If your vet does not issue these certificates, you can contact the UK Animal and Plant Health Agency for assistance.

Pets from third/non-listed countries will need to start their import process four months before arriving in the UK. This is because once a pet receives their rabies vaccination, they must wait 30 days to have their blood drawn and tested to ensure the vaccination was successful. Once this blood sample is taken, pets must wait another three months before being allowed into the UK.

The vet will need to sign and date the certificate, recording both the date of the rabies vaccination and when the blood sample was tested. Once the three months is up, you will have 10 days to bring your pet into the UK.

This veterinary certificate will only be valid for a few months upon your pet’s arrival in the UK. Once your pet has successfully relocated to the island nation, you will need to exchange the certificate for an EU pet passport.

Banned Breeds

Certain dog breeds may not be imported to the UK. These dogs can legally be seized and put down. Banned breeds include:

  • Pit Bull Terriers
  • Japanese Tosa
  • Dogo Argentino
  • Fila Brazailero
Other Animals

Like dogs, cats, and ferrets, other animals can also be brought into the UK without being quarantined as long as you have taken all the necessary steps and can provide the correct documentation.


Horses, donkeys, and other equestrian-type animals will need a horse passport. You can apply for the passport through the Passport Issuing Organization (PIO). The application processing time can take around 6 weeks. To submit the application, you will need

  • a microchip implanted by a certified vet;
  • a declaration stating whether the animal can be used as food for humans once it dies.

Horse passports do not expire.

Reptiles, Rabbits, Rodents, Etc.

Other animals coming from within the EU, such as rabbits, birds, rodents, amphibians, and reptiles, will not face restrictions upon entering the UK.

A rabbit or rodent traveling from outside the EU will need to be quarantined. You will need to book a spot in a quarantine premises through DEFRA. Once you have booked a spot, you will need to request an Application for a License to Land an Animal for Detention in Quarantine. You will fill in Part A of this application, and then send the form to the quarantine premises. The quarantine premises will send you a landing license, boarding document, and rabies cargo sticker. All of these items must be shown to the transport company when your pet arrives in the UK.


Updated on: November 26, 2019
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