Pet Travel - Quick Facts About UK Travel With a Dog or Cat

Pet Travel to the UK is Easier Than it Used to Be

Dogs playing in England
Jean Frooms

Bringing your dog or cat to the UK has never been easier. But once you comply with the regulations, what are the practical realities of getting there and staying? These resources will help.

The UK has been virtually rabies free for a very long time. The last recorded case of rabies being transmitted by a dog in the UK was more than 100 years ago. According to the UK Health Protection Agency, "the last human death from indigenous classical rabies occurred in 1902, and the last case of indigenous terrestrial animal rabies was in 1922."

DATELINE: December 12, 2019 - While you will still be allowed to bring your pet into the UK following the Brexit deadline (still undecided), how you do it will depend on factors that have not yet been decided. Whether the UK leaves the EU with an agreed deal (soft Brexit), no deal (hard Brexit) or even whether we actually leave at all remains up in the air. If you are bringing a pet to the UK or the EU from outside either, the same rules described below will still apply. If, however, you are attempting to travel between the UK and EU with a pet, new conditions may be imposed. The UK government advises that you begin making your arrangements at least 4 months before your trip and keep up to date with changing rules here.

To protect itself from allowing rabid animals from other countries entering, the UK once had draconian pet travel policies. If you wanted to bring your pet into the UK, before 2001, you had to give it up to a specialist quarantine kennel, for six months - hard on your pet, on you and on your bank account.

All Change with PETS

It is probably still going to be pretty hard on your bank account to bring a dog into the UK - particularly from outside the EU. Transporting a dog, on a long haul from North America, Australia or New Zealand, safely and according to all the appropriate rules and regulations, will probably cost considerably more than your own ticket. So unless you are traveling with an essential assistance animal, like a guide dog for the blind, bringing a pet on a short vacation from North America or further away is probably impractical.

But if you are visiting from Europe, traveling with your family pet is now a real - and pretty easy - option. And if you are coming to the UK to work or go to school for a while, bringing Fido along no longer has to involve a heart wrenching, 6-month stay in a quarantine kennel.

Need-to-know info

Before thinking about bringing a dog to the UK, make sure you know about, and comply with all, the regulations required to bring your pet back to your own country. Then check out this practical information:

  • PETS Find out about the Pet Travel Scheme and how to bring a dog, cat or ferret into the UK.
  • Accommodations
  • Dog-Friendly Hotels in the UK Wallace the Westie gives you his own, 1 to 5-Paw ratings of dog friendly accommodations he's visited. It's a growing list, so check back from time to time to see what's new.
  • Visit Scottish Borders The official tourist organization for this region, south of Edinburgh, has launched a dog-friendly charter, awarding 1 to 3-Paws to dog-friendly accommodation listed in their current "Breaks Guide". Visit their website to check it out. In 2016, Scotland even appointed an "Ambassadog" - George, a golden retreiver from Glasgow. Have a look at his video here.
  • Pet Can search for dog-friendly accommodations in specific regions, cities and towns in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
  • Dog travel assistance Taking care of all the formalities, finding information and vets involved in international travel with your dog can be complicated. Get something wrong or do it in the wrong order and your pet might have to be left behind in a foreign kennel. These companies provide services that range from offering advice and information to taking care of everything:
  • PetAir UK This UK-based service is run by vets and transports pets all over the world. They are experienced in bringing pets and service animals to the UK from North America and the Pacific Rim - but they are expensive.
  • PBS International Freight Shipment are agents for shipping dogs under the PETS scheme on several international airlines. They can provide advice and an online quotation.
  • British Airways - Transporting Your Pet British Airways operates many of the authorized routes under the UK Pet Travel Scheme. This informative website has loads of useful information. They even provide information about other airlines and have a Paris to New York subsidiary, (Open Skies) that allows you to carry small pets in the cabin rather than the cargo hold. 
  • Finding a Vet in the UK The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons has an Online, Find-a-Vet service.
  • In addition, the PETS scheme has now been in place for more than 15 years and most vets can give you advice.
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