Bringing pet dogs to the UK

For a long time, taking a dog to Britain for a holiday was unthinkable, as strict quarantine regulations applied. But since these regulations were relaxed in 2000, Britain has become a popular destination for dog owners. With the rules being relaxed further from 1st January 2012, bringing a dog to Britain has become as easy as travelling to any other European destination.

For your clients who are travelling to Britain with a pet, there are a series of steps you need to consider, both for the animal’s welfare and to comply with legal requirements.

What the pet will need when entering Britain from another EU country:

  • A microchip or tattoo (only if tattooed before 3rd July 2011) with identification number
  • Rabies vaccination (pets need to be microchipped before the vaccination and travellers will then have to wait 21 days from the date of said vaccination before travelling)
  • Pet passport (from the vet)
  • Tapeworm treatment will need to take effect between  one and five days before travelling to Britain.

The treatment will not be necessary for those travelling from Finland, Ireland, Malta or Norway.

A blood test and a tick treatment are no longer required for dogs entering Britain from an EU country. This has reduced the preparation time for a trip from six months to only 21 days (time between rabies vaccination and allowed entry date).

Other rules apply if more than five dogs are being taken into the country or if visitors are travelling from a non-EU country.

Banned breeds

There are some strict regulations over dog types which are not allowed into Britain. This ban applies not only to dogs of specific breeds, but also to dogs with similar appearances. Heavy penalties may incur, so owners of the following breeds or similar dogs must be aware:

  • Pitbull Terrier
  • Japanese Tosa
  • Dogo Argentino
  • Fila Brasileiro

Should the pet not satisfy all the entry requirements, it will be placed into quarantine and your client will be required to pay all incurring expenses.

Preparation advice to pass onto clients:

  • Take a special ID tag for the pet collar on which you can state UK contact details.
  • Ensure the pet’s vaccinations are up-to-date before travelling.
  • Don’t forget its pet passport, medical insurance and health certificate.

By Eurotunnel

71% of the pets entering into the UK do so via Eurotunnel Le Shuttle. If visitors are travelling on Eurotunnel Le Shuttle, any type of dog is accepted but there will be a fee for the journey each way. Pets must remain in their owner’s vehicle during the 35-minute crossing.

Five pets per person are permitted to travel to and from France unless visitors are taking part in a competition, show or sporting event.

Registered Guide and Assistance dogs travel for free and there are dedicated pet exercise areas and complimentary dog waste bags available.

On the ferry

  • Dogs can become seasick, just like humans. A local vet will be able to supply medicine, if necessary, before making the journey to the UK.
  • Pets mostly have to stay in the vehicle during a ferry crossing, although some operators provide special “dog hotel” accommodation for the journey.
  • Brittany Ferries runs a PETS travel scheme, which includes onboard kennels, vet contact details near to ports and advice from fellow travellers.

On the plane

If a dog is neither very small (normally between 5-10kg) nor a Registered Guide or Assistance dog, they will have to travel in the cargo hold. As this can be a stressful experience, experts usually advise against travelling by plane wherever possible.

However, if flying  is the only available option, these are the most important points to consider:

  • Transport boxes are not provided by the airline or airport, so visitors must provide their own.
  • Low-cost airlines such as Ryanair and EasyJet do not allow any dogs apart from assistance dogs on their planes.

Trains, buses and the London Underground

  • Dogs are welcome on trains, city buses and the London Underground. We recommend avoiding travelling during peak times as space can become limited and can cause stress to pets.
  • Dogs travel free of charge and do not need a special ticket.
  • Dogs need to be under the owner’s control at all times and put on a lead or transported in a suitable transportation box.
  • InterCity coach services (e.g. National Express or Megabus) cannot accommodate dogs and therefore only allow assistance dogs on coaches.

For information about bringing other pets to the UK visit the www.gov.uk and see its guidance pages.