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Essential information for taking your pet abroad

Last updated: 9 October 2017

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Essential information for taking your pet abroad
"One factor you should always consider is returning your pet to the UK when you return. UK Border Control have specific requirements for allowing the re-entry of a pet to the UK"

If you are a pet owner and considering a move abroad, one of the more difficult considerations is if and how to take your beloved pet abroad with you. After all, a pet is part of the family and will have undoubtedly been part of the decision making process when you decided to make your move.

We’ve collated some of the key considerations and factors which you will need to incorporate into your move.

Check the entry requirements into your new country of residence

The first factor you will need to consider is whether your pet will be allowed into your new country of residence. Transferring dogs and cats is acceptable in most countries, however, some countries will have restrictions on which species they will welcome. For example, in Australia you will not be permitted to take a rodent with you.

If you have a more exotic pet, it is always best to check with the local government before researching further.

Also, if your have a more exotic pet and you are permitted to take it with you, you should also consult a vet about recommended options for transportation as different species may require exceptional travel arrangements.

Pet passports, vaccinations and UK re-entry requirements

If your move is not intended to be permanent, one factor you should always consider is returning your pet to the UK when you return. UK Border Control have specific requirements for allowing the re-entry of a pet to the UK, which including:

  • It must be micro-chipped
  • It must have had a rabies vaccination (also applies if transporting within the EU) – you will also need your pet to have a microchip before the vaccination
  • It must possess a pet passport (issued in the UK or EU) or third country official veterinary certificate
  • Treatment for tapeworm (if a dog)

When your pet has been abroad, it will also need to have received boosters to ensure it is properly vaccinated against rabies and you will need to keep a full record of vaccinations – otherwise your pet is unlikely to be allowed entry.

If your pet fails any entry requirement, you will be required to pay any bills or charges.

If you are returning to the UK from outside the EU, rabbits and rodents will be required to be placed in quarantine for four months.

Always seek advice from your vet with regards to entry and re-entry requirements for your pet.

Transporting your pet abroad

You’ve now established that you can move abroad with your pet. The next consideration is how to transport your pet.

Depending on your location you are likely to require a specialist animal transfer company to assist transferring your pet overseas.

Much like a valuable possession, you want to ensure that your pet is properly cared for and looked after during transportation and it is therefore essential that you speak to and receive quotes from multiple companies. As with any removals quote, ensure that you are fully aware what’s included (including insurance) so that you know what you will need to take responsibility for.

If possible, speak to other pet owners who have used the companies before to obtain a credible testimonial before making any decisions to ensure that you have peace of mind about the abilities of the transportation company.

Under normal circumstances, your pet will be transported as live animal cargo. In planes, this is within a special compartment in the hold which is pressurised and heated.

It may also be possible to transport your pet with you as additional baggage. However, this will depend on the airline and pet and you should also speak to the airline you intend to travel.

Any elements of transporting your pet should be taken only after you have sought advice from your vet.

Suggested companies for beginning your search for a company to assist with transportation of your pet include Airpets, PetRelocation and Pet Travel Agent.

Transportation crates for pets

The size and comfort of the crate is as important to your pet as your travel conditions are to you. The smaller and more confined the space, the more stress your pet will go through during transportation.

However, the price of transporting your pet with your airline is directly based on the dimensions of the crate. The more space the crate takes up, the more expensive it will be.

There are also regulations imposed by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) about which crates can be used to transport cats and dogs. These regulations will determine a number of matters, including the materials which can be used, the size, how the container is built, labels, ventilation, door and also feed and watering containers.

The regulations also take into consideration the condition of the animal. For example, they do not recommend transferring females in heat.

When choosing your container, remember that animals of the same species may be loaded next to each other, although dogs are not permitted to be placed next to cats during transit.

A full overview of the requirements can be found on the IATA website.

If you have selected a good transportation company for transporting your pet, you should be able to discuss all aspects of transportation with them directly, including the crates which will be used.

Ensuring your pet is comfortable during transportation

While it is generally impossible to guarantee that your pet’s transportation will be stress free, there are steps you can take to help reduce the stress their experience.

Ensure that if they have a favourite blanket, or something similar, that it is transported with them in their crate.

You can also purchase sprays (eg. Felliway for cats or Dap for dogs) which are natural pheromones and will help calm your pet. It is also advisable to use such sprays in your new home once your pet arrives to ensure they remain calm in their new surroundings.

Always get advice when relocating your pet abroad

Never make any decisions about moving abroad without considering your pet’s wellbeing first and you should always seek advice before making any decisions or travelling.

Aside from your vet, you can also speak to the Pet Travel Scheme helpline who will be able to provide you with in depth information and advice about transporting your pet abroad. You can call them on +44 (0)370 241 1710. Full contact details can be found on the UK Government website.

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