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Pet Travel To The UK Gets Easier

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.

Couple Walking Dog

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.

Microchip

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.

Rabies Vaccination

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:

  • its date of birth/age
  • the microchip number, date of insertion and location of the microchip on the animal
  • the date of vaccination
  • the vaccine product name
  • the batch number
  • the date its booster vaccination is due (calculated by reference to the vaccine manufacturer’s data sheet)

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.

Documentation

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.

Tapeworm Treatment

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.

Approved Routes

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.

Breed Discrimination Laws

The UK enacted the Dangerous Dog Act in 1991, which prohibits four types of dogs:

  • Pit Bull Terrier
  • Japanese Tosa
  • Dogo Argentino
  • Fila Brasileiro

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.

Other Animals

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.

More Information

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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  • Hi Lauren! I’d discuss it with your veterinarian, because your dog’s health would need to be considered. That being said, the microchipping procedure is very simple, and neither Ty or Buster reacted at all when they were chipped. My guess is that your vet will think it’s fine to do your dog’s vaccinations and chip in the same visit. Good luck, and waggin’ trails!

  • My dog has a microchip that is the US 10 digit rather than the ISO Standard 15 digit. I am going to get him implanted with the ISO microchip rather than buy a scanner as I see this is the cheaper route, however do you know how long we need to wait getting his vaccines after implanting him with the new microchip? Can it be done at the same vet appointment as long as the microchip is done first? Or would we need to wait a day? A week? Thank you!

  • Thank you! Without our readers, I’d just be talking to myself. =)

  • Does anyone have a recommended Pet Company for NY to UK? We are moving to London for 5 years, and bringing our 2 cats in January (we couldn’t imagine life without them and won’t leave them behind). I have some strong concerns, as I want them to be safe and unharmed. I’ve heard of Starwood and AirPets.

  • Great info, I have made a hub on this topic as well: http://zsobig.hubpages.com/…/How-to-travel-with-pets-to…

  • […] Traveling to the UK with your pet has gotten a little easier! […]

  • How I wish I was brave enough to take Georgia on our travels. I’m just not sure how well she’d cope, or me for that matter! The cost of kennelling her on our long trips would be almost the same as buying her a plane ticket. It’s great to hear that those months-long quarantines are slowly becoming a thing of the past.

  • Great post Amy! It’s good to know that people can visit friends and take their dog – with stipulations. Now if they would just wake up and get rid of that ineffectual, inhumane “Dangerous Dog” act.

  • Thanks for providing this terrific information. I have no plans to travel to the UK with my dog as she’d have to fly in cargo, but it’s great to know things are getting easier for those who wish to do so. I’ve been to the UK several times and I’d love to go back. One never runs out of beautiful places to visit.

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