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Bringing your pet to the UK

01 September 2020 Jack Freeland Blog

In the year ending March 2020 around 313,000 people moved to the UK on a permanent basis to begin their new lives. We have extensively covered the visa requirements and processes that these new UK residents had to follow to come here, but what about their pets?

Pet migration to the UK is regulated by The Pet Travel Scheme (“PETS”) which has been in effect in the UK for more than 15 years. PETS is a system that permits dogs, cats and ferrets to enter or re-enter the UK from qualified EU countries and non-EU "listed" countries. The PETS requirements are as follows:

1. Have your pet microchipped

You must get your pet microchipped before, or at the same time as, their rabies vaccination. If your dog has been inoculated against rabies before being microchipped, it will have to be done again. You do not need to have your pet microchipped if it was tattooed with an identification number on or before 03 July 2011 and the tattoo is still legible.

2. Rabies vaccination

Your pet must be vaccinated against rabies before it can travel. This stage should only be completed after your pet has been microchipped. There is no exemption from this requirement even if the animal has already been vaccinated.

3. Blood test for pets entering from outside the EU

You must follow certain rules after having your pet vaccinated if you are travelling to the UK from an unlisted country. Your pet must have a blood sample taken at least 30 days after the rabies vaccination to ensure that the vaccine has been successful. Dogs and cats entering from and vaccinated within EU or non-EU listed countries do not have to have a blood test.

4. The waiting period

If you are bringing your pet to the UK for the first time, you must wait three weeks after the date of vaccination before you can travel and return to the UK if you are entering from an EU or listed country.

If you are travelling from an unlisted country outside the EU then you must wait a further three months after the date of the blood test before your pet can enter the UK.

5. Pet passport and other documents

After your pet has completed a blood test and the required waiting period the vet will issue you with the relevant pet passport. In EU countries, this will be an EU PETS Passport.

If your pet is coming to the UK from a non-EU country, your vet must complete a Model Third Country Official Veterinary Certificate which you can download from the PETS website. No other certificate will be accepted. You must also sign a declaration stating that you do not intend to sell or transfer ownership of the animal. Download the declaration form here.

6. Tapeworm treatment for dogs

If you are bringing a dog to the UK, your dog must be treated against tapeworm by a licensed vet no more than 5 days before entering the UK, and not less than 24 hours.

If your dog is entering the UK from Finland, Ireland, Malta or Norway they do not need to be treated for tapeworm.

What else should I know?

You can only use certain travel routes and companies to transport pets to the UK under the PETS system. Before travelling ensure that you check the list of authorised carriers for air, rail and sea travel to the UK. If you fail to do so and don’t arrive via an approved route your pet may be refused entry and placed in quarantine.

What about other animals?

The PETS only regulates the entry and re-entry of dogs, cats and ferrets. There is a similar scheme in place for horses.

There are no restrictions on bringing pet rodents, rabbits, birds, invertebrates, amphibians and reptiles to the UK from EU countries. Any pet rabbits and rodents from countries outside the EU must spend 4 months in quarantine on arrival in the UK.

If you are importing an animal that is not native to the UK, you must follow a different set of rules and apply for a licence.


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