Pet Transportation to Great Britain

Table of Contents

United Kingdom Pet Transport Regulations and Recommendations.

Having your pet by your side when exploring the streets of London and its world-famous tourist attractions is one of the best things in the world. However, before you and your fur baby can enjoy London’s music scene and traditional fish and chips, you will need to figure out how to bring your pet along.

If you are looking to transport a pet to the UK, there are a few steps you will need to follow to ensure that your pet can enter the country safely and legally. Here are 5 things you need to know when transporting your pet to the UK:

1. The UK government does not allow pets to travel in the cabin.

Due to biosecurity concerns, all pets, large or small, must enter the UK as cargo only. That way, Animal Reception at the border can take into account and check each pet’s documents before they are released from the airport. We know that transporting your fur baby as cargo sounds scary, but believe us, it is safe, provided that all safety measurements are followed. You can check out our FAQ page for the things that we do to make sure that all pets that we transport arrive at their final destinations safe and sound.

Safe pet transport in cargo

2. Health check, vaccination, and treatments.

  • Vaccination.

Your pet must have been vaccinated against rabies at least 21 days before entering the UK.

  • Your pet’s current rabies vaccination might not be valid for travel.

Meeting the import requirements regarding rabies vaccination is crucial for the pet to not be quarantined, revaccinated upon arrival, or sent back to the country of origin.

  • Microchip.

Your pet must be microchipped with a ISO 11784/11785 compliant microchip.

Ensure your pet receives a microchip the same day or before the rabies vaccination. Why? Because according to UK officials, a microchip is considered a primary method for animal identification. Hence, any vaccinations administered before getting a microchip are deemed invalid.

  • Blood test.

Dogs, cats, and ferrets must have a blood test taken at least 30 days after the rabies vaccination. The test must show a positive result for rabies antibodies.

  • Health certificate.

Within 10 days of travel, your pet will need to obtain an official veterinary health certificate that shows they are fit to travel.

  • Tapeworm treatment.

Dogs must be treated against tapeworms between 1-5 days before entering the UK, depending on the country of origin.

In addition, in most cases, the UK government does not accept a 3-year rabies vaccination. Therefore, your pet might need another vaccine and wait 21 days before travel. If you are unsure whether or not your pet is meeting the rabies vaccination requirement, contact us via email at [email protected]. And get one of us to provide you with export consultation services.

3. Hiring an agent is mandatory.

If you travel from Canada, you will, most likely, need to hire a local pet shipping company to secure the space on an aircraft. However, hiring an agent in the UK is mandatory – owners cannot clear their pets through customs without the help of a local customs broker or a pet shipping company. This rule came into place due to the complexity of procedures that need to be undertaken before your pet can be released from the airport.

Hiring an agent is mandatory for pet transport to UK

4. Your pet might need to enter the UK as a commercial shipment.

Pets can enter the UK as either a commercial or non-commercial shipment. Of course, your fur baby is not just a shipment, but it is how the UK border officers identify which category your pet falls into. In case you’re unable to accompany your pet within the 10 days window (+/- 5 days of your pet’s travel date), your pet is going to enter the UK as a commercial shipment, and additional costs and import rules will apply.

Pet transportation to Great Britain

5. It might take several hours to clear your pet through customs.

London Heathrow Airport (LHR) is one of the busiest airports for pet travel. On average, it takes from 4 to 8 hours to clear your pet through customs. It is also good to know that while the documents are being checked, pets never stay in their travel carriers. They are taken out into their private accommodations within the Animal Reception Center and are offered food & water.

Transporting your pet to UK - 5 things to know

Additionally, you should check the specific requirements for your pet depending on the country of origin and breed. The UK government has detailed information on their official website that you can refer to for more information.

We hope that knowing this will help you plan your own trip. And you will not have to wait several hours for your pet to be cleared through customs!

For Inquiries.

Relopet International aids customers and their treasured pets in safe and easy travel from beginning to end. Contact us regarding the transport of your furry family member using our online request form, email [email protected], or phone (604) 774-2707.


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