The United Kingdom is an enchanting place to travel, and this year it’s become easier than ever to include your pet in your English vacation. On January 1, 2012, the UK’s rules for pets entering the country were brought in line with the European Union and the six-month quarantine period for dogs, cats and ferrets was eliminated – provided certain conditions are met.
Though this makes it easier to travel with your pets to the UK, there is still a significant amount of preparation needed to ensure your pet meets the requirements. Assuming your pet has been living for at least six months in a rabies-free or low rabies incidence country, like the US or Canada, this is what it will take to get your pet ready to go.
Whether it’s your dog, cat, or ferret that will be joining you in the UK, the very first thing you’ll need to do is to have them fitted with a microchip. In Europe, fifteen-digit pet microchips that are compliant with ISO Standards are generally used and, therefore, the microchip scanners at most ports of entry are compatible with these types of chips. The problem is that many of the microchips currently used in the US – including Ty and Buster’s AVID and AKC microchips – might not be readable by these scanners.
If your pet already has a microchip, you have two options. The first is to have a second, ISO compliant microchip implanted in your pet so the UK authorities will be able to read it with their scanners. Your other option is to provide a scanner that has the ability to read the microchip already implanted in your pet so the authorities can identify him or her.
It’s important to complete this step first, because the microchip number is the only acceptable method of identification to prove the remaining steps have been performed on the correct animal.
Even if they are currently protected from rabies, your pet must receive a rabies vaccination AFTER their microchip has been implanted. It’s important that your veterinarian record the following information on your pet’s vaccination record and third country official veterinary certificate:
The first time your pet is vaccinated after getting microchip, there is a 21-day waiting period before they can enter England. That waiting period is waived on all subsequent trips, as long as the rabies boosters are kept current. If the rabies vaccination is administered in two parts, the 21-day waiting period begins after the second dose.
When traveling to England with up to five pets for non-commercial purposes, you’ll need your pet’s rabies vaccination record and the third country official veterinary certificate (Form Annex II), which must be completed by a licensed veterinarian no more than 10 days prior to entry. The Annex II remains valid for up to four months for travel within the European Community.
Your airline or transport company may also require a health certificate for your pet. It’s best to check with them directly to determine their requirements.
Every dog entering Great Britain must be treated for tapeworms. The treatment must be administered by a licensed veterinarian no more than 120 hours (5 days) and not less than 24 hours prior to entry. Be sure your veterinarian records this treatment on your pet’s third country official veterinary certificate.
Only certain transport companies and routes are approved to bring pet dogs, cats and ferrets into the UK. Private boat or planes from outside the UK are not allowed to transport pets into the country. You can check the government website for the most recent list of approved carriers.
The UK enacted the Dangerous Dog Act in 1991, which prohibits four types of dogs:
It’s important to note that the law prohibits these “types” of dogs – not necessarily the breed. This means that whether a dog is considered dangerous, and therefore prohibited, will depend on a judgment about its physical characteristics, and whether it matches the description of a prohibited “type.” The assessment of the physical characteristics is made by a court, and if your dog is found to be in violation of the law you could be prosecuted and the dog seized and euthanized.
Our advice is that if there is any chance your dog could be considered to be one of these “types” of dogs, leave them home where they’ll be safe. You can find out more about the requirements of the Dangerous Dog Act on the government website.
Pet rabbits and rodents traveling from the US or Canada may be quarantined for up to four months. Pet birds or family pet birds imported into England must be accompanied by a health certificate and a “Family Pet Bird Import Licence” which is issued by the Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratory Agency Specialist Service Centre for Imports. More details on importing pet birds can be found on the government website.
You can find more information about traveling with your pets to the United Kingdom at the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs website.
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