The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs or DEFRA (https://www.gov.uk/defra) is the organization that governs pet import to the UK. Everything you need to know about bringing your pet to London can be obtained from DEFRA. You can reach them at 08459 33 5577.
It is not complicated to bring your pet to London, but as the UK is one of the only countries around that prides itself on having a rabies-free environment, there are strict regulations. It can take time to complete the entire process, make sure to allow at least 6 months. That said, if the country you are bringing your pet from is part of the Pet Travel Scheme (PETS) you will be able to bring your pet without subjecting it to quarantine. For a full list of PETS qualified countries, visit https://www.gov.uk/bringing-food-animals-plants-into-uk.
If you are bringing your pet from a country not on this list, the pet will likely have to remain in quarantine for 6 months. Try to avoid this if you can, as quarantine is expensive and questionable.
While many airlines allow cats and small dogs to fly in the cabin alongside the owner, this is not allowed on any airline entering or exiting the UK. If you don’t feel comfortable putting your small pet in the cargo section, the best thing to do is to fly to another European country and then drive or ask someone to drive you to the UK.
- Your pet will need a passport under the PETS scheme which will be delivered by your vet certifying that section 2, 3, 4 are fulfilled and correct.
- Your pet (dog, cat, ferret) must receive a rabies vaccination 6 months before you intend on traveling with your pet to the UK. You must have the pet undergo a blood test and the results must be documented. You may enter the UK 6 months after this blood test was taken, granted the test shows appropriate levels of the antibodies have reached the animal. Obtain a vaccination certificate from your vet.
- The animal must also be micro-chipped.
- He or she should then be treated against ticks and tapeworms between 24 and 48 hours before entering the UK. Again, obtain documentation from your vet.
- Make sure you have everything organized ahead of time and contact DEFRA if you have any questions.
If your pets do not fulfill the requirements then they will have to be quarantined in kennels in London for up to six months after arrival. You will be able to visit them, but they will not be allowed home with you until they have passed all of the stringent requirements for pets in the United Kingdom. If you have certain breeds of dogs, you must make sure that they are allowed into the UK; Pit Bull Terriers, for example, are not allowed into England, under the Dangerous Dog Act.
If you wish to relocate with larger animals such as horses you will have to find a property which allows the animals to exercise and stables this should not be too much of a problem since there are a number of parks which have facilities for horses and their riders. Contact DEFRA for information on importing these large animals.
Importing animals which are not native to the UK
As a general rule, animals which are not native to the UK such as musk-rats and grey squirrels, for example, are prohibited. For more information consult the following leaflet :
Heathrow Animal Reception Centre
The City of London website has put together a very informative page called “Heathrow Animal Reception Centre” which is worth reading if you intend to bring your pet to the UK. Heathrow Animal Reception Center