Traveling the world is an amazing, broadening experience, but it can be hard to figure out the logistics of a vacation to England when you want to bring your pet along with you. Luckily, traveling to England with a pet is not as difficult as it once was.
In order to travel in England with a dog, cat, or ferret, you will have to have your pet microchipped, get a pet passport or third-country veterinary certificate, and have it vaccinated against rabies. There are a variety of other requirements depending on the kind of pet you have and where you are traveling from.
Continue reading below for the complete details on how to travel to England with a pet, including what requirements your pet must meet and how to make their time traveling as comfortable as possible.
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Disclaimer: You should check GOV UK for the latest information on travelling to England with pets.
UK Requirements for Travelling to England with a Dog, Cat or Ferret
It wasn’t that long ago that it was very difficult to travel to England with a pet. England is a rabies free country, and they are looking to keep it that way, but they have loosened the laws in the past decade so that now it is fairly easily to travel with a pet in England.
These rules apply to residents of the UK as well as foreigners that are just visiting. If you are a UK resident and travel out of the country with your pet, you will have to meet the same requirements as anyone else traveling into the UK from that country.
No matter what country you and your pet are traveling from, it must be microchipped, have a pet passport or a veterinary certificate, an up to date rabies vaccination, and potentially there will be even more requirements depending on where the pet is traveling from.
But don’t worry, all the requirements are manageable as long as you have enough time to plan ahead.
A microchip is a permanent and electronic way of providing identification for your pet. If a pet gets out of its traveling crate and loses it collar, it can still be identified using a microchip scanner.
The microchip itself is a small device no bigger than a grain of rice that is implanted just under your pets skin, usually between their shoulder blades. The microchip has a unique number that is read using a microchip scanner. This number is connected to a database that provides contact information for the pet’s owner.
If your pet is not already microchipped, then you will need to bring your pet to a vet to get a microchip implanted, and you will need to add your information to the database. If your pet has already been microchipped, be sure the contact information in the database is up to date.
When getting a microchip for travelling to England, there are a few things you need to know.
- First, your pet must be microchipped before or at the same time that it gets its rabies vaccination. If your pet was not microchipped at the time that it got its rabies vaccination, it would have to get the vaccination again.
- The microchip that you use should also meet the International Organization for Standardization’s standards for microchips. If the microchip does not meet these standards, there is a chance that the microchip scanner used when you arrive in England will be unable to read it.
- Microchipping is not necessary if your pet has an identification number that was tattooed on it on or before July 3, 2011. The number must be recorded in their pet passport.
EU Pet Passport
A pet passport is not really like a human passport at all. It does provide some identifying information and a photo of your pet, but its main purpose is to chronicle the pet’s veterinary treatments and immunizations.
Pet passports are offered by many veterinarians across Europe at reasonable prices, but if your vet does not offer them, they should be able to refer you to a vet that does without any issue.
If you live outside of the European Union, you must get an official veterinary certificate that essentially does the same thing that a pet passport does. However, where a pet passport will last for the life of your pet as long as your pet is kept up to date on its vaccinations, a veterinary certificate will only be good for 4 months after you arrive in the UK.
The official veterinary certificate must be obtained within 10 days of arrival in England.
If you are planning to stay for an extended period of time with your pet in England or anywhere in the UK, you can get an EU pet passport while you are in Europe. Your pet may be required to undergo an examination and may get additional vaccinations, even if your pet already got the same vaccinations before you arrived in England.
To get a pet passport when you arrive in England, you will need to schedule a visit to a veterinary office that can distribute them when you arrive.
Vaccinations Against Rabies
Before you can bring your pet to England, it must be vaccinated against rabies. This is a very strict requirement because rabies does not exist in England either in domesticated animals or wildlife.
Rabies is a virus that is commonly transmitted from dog saliva to humans when an infected dog bites the human, although many animals are capable of contracting rabies and passing it to humans through a bite.
Rabies can be lethal to both pets and humans, and it can be found on every continent except Antarctica, so it is truly rare that England has avoided it.
A pet must receive his rabies vaccination or the last of his primary course of vaccinations at least 21 days before arriving in England. The vaccination should be recorded in the pet passport or on the veterinary certificate.
Your pet’s booster vaccinations must be up to date, and all of the pet passport or official veterinary certificate must be filled out properly.
The information required includes your pet’s date of birth, microchip number, the date it was put in or read, and where it is located, the date of the vaccination, the vaccine manufacturer and product name, the vaccine batch number, the date the vaccination is valid until and the vet’s signature and contact details.
If the pet passport or official veterinary certificate is not filled out properly, your pet could be prevented from traveling or it could be held in quarantine for 4 months, and you would be responsible for paying the expense of this.
If you are traveling from one of the Unlisted Countries, or any country not listed on the two lists displayed on this page, then you will have additional requirements that must be met to show unequivocally that your pet has been vaccinated against rabies.
- Of course, you first must vaccinate your pet against rabies.
- Thirty days after your pet has its rabies vaccination, it must get a blood test to prove that it has sufficient rabies antibodies.
- The vet must send the blood sample to an EU approved blood testing laboratory. The purpose of this is to show that the vaccination worked, and your pet is protected against rabies.
- If your blood test results do not show that your pet it immune to rabies, it cannot travel to England.
- If your blood test results show that your pet is immune to rabies, you still must wait 3 months before you can travel to England.
- This 3-month wait is not necessary if you had the pet vaccinated, blood tested and given a pet passport in the UK before traveling to an unlisted country.
- The vet must enter the test results and record the day the test was given on the official veterinary certificate.
You can send your pet on ahead of you when traveling to England, but you must arrive within five days of your pet’s arrival.
You can also authorize your pet to travel with someone else if part of your travel companions is going ahead of you with your pet.
If you or another authorized person cannot pick up the pet within five days, you have to follow a whole other set of rules for bringing pets in the UK for commercial reasons.
It is best for your pet that you arrive within 5 days of your pet anyway because traveling can be a very stressful for pets.
There are some special requirements placed upon dogs in general, cats coming from Australia, and cats and dogs traveling from Malaysia. If your traveling with a dog or a cat coming from Australia or Malaysia, you will definitely want to follow the requirements below.
Special Requirements for Dogs
Dogs are some of the most common traveling companions because they generally can handle the stress of travel far better than other animals like cats, but there are two extra requirements for traveling to England with a dog.
If you are traveling to England with a dog, the dog must be treated for tapeworm every time it enters the UK.
The tapeworm treatment must be given at least 24 hours before your pet’s arrival and no more than 5 days before. The vaccine itself must contain praziquantel or an equivalent that is proven to be effective against Echinococcus multilocularis (tapeworm).
Make sure your vet lists the tapeworm treatment in your pet passport or official veterinary certificate. This information must include the name and manufacturer of the product, the date and time the dog was treated, and the vet’s stamp and signature.
If you are a UK resident and taking your pet out of the UK for a short trip, then you can give the treatment before you leave. You must stay abroad for at least 24 hours and return within 120 hours (5 days).
Additionally, there are certain types of dogs that are not permitted in England. These include Pit Bull Terriers, Japanese Tosas, Dogo Argentinos, and Fila Brasileiros.
Whether your dog is one of these types is determined by look, not by its name or breed. Even a dog mixed with one of these types can be a banned dog.
Special Requirements for Cats Travelling from Australia
Due to incidences of the Hendra virus in Australia, England has some special requirements for cats that travel from Australia to the UK.
Hendra virus is a rare viral infection that can cause a variety of flu like symptoms in humans that can range from mild to life threatening. It is also known to cause life threatening illness in horses. (source)
If you are traveling to England from Australia with a cat, you need to obtain a certificate from the Australian Department of Agriculture that states that your cat has not been exposed to the Hendra virus in the past 60 days before your departure. (source)
Special Requirements Cats and Dogs Traveling from Peninsular Malaysia
Due to incidences of the Nipah virus in peninsular Malaysia, England requires some extra assurance that cats and dogs traveling from there have not been exposed.
The Nipah virus can cause acute respiratory illness and fetal encephalitis in humans and it is known for causing severe disease in pigs which results in devastating economic loss for pig farmers. (source)
When traveling from Malaysia with your pet, you will need to get a certificate from the Malaysian government’s veterinary health services.
This certificate must show that your pet has not been in contact with a pig within 60 days of departing the country, has not been on a holding where Nipah disease has been found within 60 days of departing the country, and has a negative blood test result for the Nipah virus antibody.
This blood test must be performed at a specially approved laboratory for the Nipah virus, and the blood draw must occur no more than 10 days before you plan to leave Malaysia.
What About Traveling with Guide or Assistance Dogs?
If you are traveling with an assistance or guide dog, it must meet all the requirements of other dogs including microchipping, vaccinations, and tapeworm treatments.
However, an assistance or guide dog is allowed to travel on more routes and are typically allowed to travel in the air cabin while other pets often must travel separated from their owners.
Typically, UK travel companies will recognize your pet as a guide dog if it was trained by a company associated with Assistance Dogs International or the International Guide Dog Federation.
Traveling to England via air, rail, or ferry is typically not a problem when you have an assistance or guide dog, but in all circumstances the guide dog must meet the same requirements as any other dog.
It is always a good idea to call ahead and check with the company that you are traveling with to make sure that they can allow an assistance dog to stay with you and any requirements that may be necessary like a special car harness to secure the dog during takeoff and landing.
Some companies will need to know ahead of time to ensure that they have enough space for your assistance dog.
Traveling with Other Animals
Dogs, cats, and ferrets are clearly not the only animals you may wish to travel with when you are visiting England. If you have a less conventional travel companion, there are a different set of requirements you must follow.
If you are from the EU, then you can travel freely. The UK does not place any travel restrictions or requirements on pet rodents, rabbits, birds, invertebrates, amphibians, amphibians, or reptiles. This covers the most common animals that you might travel with.
If you live outside of the EU and you are traveling with any of these animals, they will need to spend 4 months in quarantine before they can enter the UK. You are responsible for the cost of the quarantine which varies depending on the carrier.
Horses are able to travel using a similar method as a dog or a cat. They must get a passport, have their health examined by a vet, and be up to date on any vaccinations (source).
Pets that are exotic or not native to the UK will likely not be allowed to enter England. If you are a resident of the UK, you may be able to have a pet that is not native to England, but you must get special licenses.
How to Make Your Pet Comfortable While Traveling
Be certain that you really need to bring your pet with you. Many animals do not enjoy any part of traveling. Cats, for example, are very resistant to changing their environment and are prone to trying to find their way back home the moment they are given the opportunity. Time in a foreign country will most certainly be fun for you, but your pet might not have the same feelings.
If you want to bring your pet with you, then begin to plan your trip at least two months in advance to ensure that you have plenty of time to get the necessary paperwork and vaccinations sorted out. This is especially true if you’re traveling from a country outside of the European Union.
If you are planning to travel with your pet to England from an unlisted country, you should begin planning 6 months out because of the extra requirements for traveling from these countries.
By preparing well in advance for your trip to England with your pet, you will ensure that your pet does not end up in quarantine or not allowed into the UK, which would likely be a very stressful and uncomfortable situation for your pet.
Here are some simple tips you can follow when preparing for a trip to England with your pet.
General Travel Tips
Allow your pet to get used to being in their carrier, if you plan to use one. Let them explore it. Coax them into if they are hesitant and reward them with a treat and plenty of praise.
If it can be managed, it is best not to feed your pet a few hours before travel. This will help keep your pet from getting sick if they become nauseous.
Avoid causing your pet an upset stomach and bring a supply of your usual brand of food. It may be more difficult to locate in England, and many pets do not react well to a change in their diet.
Along with your pet’s microchip, it is a good idea to have an identification collar on your pet in case it becomes lost. This way you can be contacted right away if your pet is found.
Once you are in England, dogs are generally allowed on most city buses, trains, and the underground as long as there is enough room for them, and they are on a lead.
If your dog is not used to being in new places on a leash, you will need to help them get used to both being on a leash and being in new places before traveling.
Tips for Traveling to England by Car with a Pet
Get your pet used to riding in the car. This is extra easy if you have a dog as most dogs adjust quickly to going for a ride in the car. Start by taking short trips with your pet.
It may not be necessary to try to get your car used to riding in the car. For many cats no amount of practice will get them used to ride in a car. Focus on getting them used to their carrier so that they will feel secure when in the car.
Plan to make many stops along the way for your pet to get out of the car. Once again this is extra important when traveling with dogs. Cats are not likely to enjoy exploring new places and are easier to lose track of.
If you’re traveling with an adventurous cat, it may be worth getting your cat used to wearing a harness and walking on a leash. Some cats will bear this better than others, but it will allow you to let them out of their carrier to stretch their legs once in a while.
The safest place for most pets is in a pet carrier in the back seat. Don’t let your pets roam the car.
For a dog, you can also use a car harness that secures the dog in the vehicle and helps keep them safe in the event of an accident.
The Eurotunnel has designated pet areas for your pet to relieve themselves. It is a good idea to take advantage of these areas before crossing the channel.
Ferries often have different rules about pets. If you are planning to take a ferry, you will need to check with them in advance to be sure that your pet can cross.
Avoid leaving your pet in the car alone, especially in warm temperatures. This can be very dangerous for many pets.
Tips for Traveling to England by Airplane with a Pet
If your pet is very small or an assistance animal, it may be allowed to travel with you in the cabin of the plane in a carrier. This will depend on the airline’s specific regulations. You should call ahead to see where your pet will be traveling in the plane.
If your pet is larger, then it most definitely will be required to ride in its carrier in the cargo hold.
You need to have a transport carrier or box that is approved by the airline and well ventilated.
The travel carrier or box must also be large enough for your pet to lie down, stand, and turn around. This will help your pet travel safely and comfortably.
Make sure your pet is comfortable in their carrier. You can place a favorite toy or blanket in the carrier to help comfort them in your absence.
Look for direct flights so that your pet does not spend as much time in high stress situations.
If you are arriving at a warm destination, try to arrange it so that you can arrive in the evening or night to help keep your pet cool and transition well. It is easy for a pet in a travel carrier that is stressed out to become overheated.
Hi, I'm Kat, an Australian that moved to London in 2013 to start a new adventure. What a roller-coaster that was! I love helping others move to the UK and people explore the world! I’d be honoured if you’d say, “Thanks!” with a £3 coffee on Ko-fi.