The withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union (a move known as "Brexit") formally occurred on January 31, 2020. Following that departure is a transition period lasting until December 31, 2020, during which the U.K. and E.U. will negotiate the terms of their future relationship. This article has been updated as of the January 31st withdrawal, and you can find up-to-date information about details of the transition on the U.K.'s government website.
Yes you can bring your dog, cat or ferret into the UK without having to park them in quarantine. You just have to follow a few important rules. A lot of people still think that if they bring their pets with them into the UK they'll have to put them into a quarantine kennel for six months. Old ideas die hard. It's actually much easier, and kinder for pets and their owners, these days.
The Pet Travel Scheme, known as PETS, has been in effect in the UK for more than 15 years. It's a system that permits Pet travel to the UK. Dogs, cats and even ferrets can enter or re-enter the UK from qualified EU countries and non-EU "listed" countries. Listed countries include named non-EU countries in Europe and elsewhere. Pet travel from the USA, Canada, Mexico, Australia and New Zealand are included.
In a change from the old quarantine regulations, pets that comply with the PETS rules for EU countries can enter the UK without quarantine from almost anywhere in the world. There are just a few exceptions and extra waiting periods.
What pet owners must do
Preparing your animal for pet travel under the PETS scheme is not complicated but you need to plan ahead and get the process in the works well ahead of time - at least four months if you are traveling from outside the EU. Here is what's required:
- Have your pet microchipped - Your vet can carry this out and it is not painful for the animal. It must be done first, before any inoculation. If your dog has been inoculated against rabies before being microchipped, it will have to be done again.
- Rabies vaccination - Have your pet vaccinated against rabies after being microchipped. There is no exemption from this requirement, even if the animal already had been vaccinated.
- Blood test for pets entering from outside the EU - After a 30-day waiting period, your vet should test your animal to make sure that the rabies vaccination has succeeded in giving sufficient protection. Dogs and cats entering from and vaccinated within EU or non-EU listed countries do not have to have a blood test.
- The 3-week/3-month rule The first time your pet is prepared to travel under the PETS system, you must wait three weeks before you can travel and return to the UK if you are coming into the UK from an EU or listed country. The day of the vaccination counts as day 0 and you must wait a further 21 days.
If you are traveling to the UK from an unlisted country outside the EU, your pet must have a blood test 30 days after the vaccination (with the vaccination day counting as day 0) and then wait a further three months after the valid blood test before the animal can enter the UK.
- PETS Documents Once your animal has passed all the required waiting periods and has had a valid blood test, if that is required, the vet will issue PETS documentation. In EU countries, this will be an EU PETS Passport. If you are traveling 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.
- Tapeworm treatment Just before you enter the UK, your dog must be treated against tapeworm. This must be done not more than 120 hours (5 days) before entering the UK and not less than 24 hours. This treatment must be carried out by a licensed vet every time your pet enters the UK. If your dog does not have this treatment during the required period, it can be refused entry and placed into a 4 month quarantine. Dogs entering the UK from Finland, Ireland, Malta and Norway do not have to be treated for tapeworm.
Once you've fulfilled all the requirements, your animal will be free to travel to the UK as long as rabies vaccinations are kept up to date.
There are some exceptions. Pets coming to the UK from Jamaica must be prepared for travel under the PETS requirements in a different country, outside Jamaica. Special extra requirements apply to cats coming to the UK from Australia and for dogs and cats arriving from Peninsular Malaysia. Find those requirements here.
What else should I know?
Only certain carriers are authorized to transport pets under the PETS system. Before you make your travel arrangements, check the list of authorized carriers for air, rail and sea travel to the UK. The authorized routes and transport companies can change or may only operate certain times of year so check before you travel. If you don't arrive via an approved route, your pet may be refused entry and place in the 4-month quarantine.