The rules on bringing animals to the UK from overseas | TeamDogs

The rules on bringing animals to the UK from overseas

There are many different rules to follow to ensure your pet isn’t seized

Fiona Callow

Posted 50d ago

(Image: Getty Images)

A debate has been sparked after Paul ‘Pen’ Farthing brought 173 animals to the UK from Afghanistan.

Farthing, founder of Nozad animal charity, landed at Heathrow Airport on Sunday morning with 94 dogs and 79 cats.

They had been rescued from his animal charity in Kabul.

However, the Sunday Times, quoting a senior official in Whitehall, has predicted the animals could be condemned to death despite all the efforts and controversy to get them out of the country.

‘If they turn out to be riddled with disease, Defra (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) will have to put them down,’ the official is quoted as saying.

It is understood the 173 animals are currently being housed in a quarantine kennels and their future in the UK is yet to be determined.

Pen Farthing successfully bringing back his animals from Kabul has sparked a debate

Following the latest news, TeamDogs has compiled a list of the steps that need to be taken before an animal can be brought into the UK from overseas.

According to the UK Government, an owner – or rescue centre – must have proof their dog, cat or ferret has been microchipped, vaccinated against rabies, and has a pet passport or health certificate before it can be granted entry into the UK.

Read more: Pen Farthing's rescue animals could be ‘destroyed on arrival’ in UK

Dog are normally expected to have had tapeworm treatment before travel. This treatment must be given no less than 24 hours and no more than five days before entry to the UK.

If these requirements have not been met before travel, an animal can be placed into quarantine for up to four months – or can even be destroyed in the worst case scenario. This is because they may be carrying a harmful disease that could be introduced into the wider population if unchecked.

The rules on bringing an animal into the UK vary depending on where the animal is travelling from and whether they’re ‘listed’:

Listed countries

Part one of the list includes all EU countries as well as Andorra, Norway, the Canary Islands and others. 

These are countries which the UK will accept pet passports or a Great Britain pet health certificate from as proof of entry.

For more countries on part one of the list, click here.

Part two of the listed countries can show a Great Britain pet health certificate as proof of entry, but their pet passports will not be accepted.

The USA, UAE, Australia and Japan, amongst others are listed in this section.

For more countries on part two of the list, click here.

The animal then must be up-to-date on their vaccinations, with proof that they have been fully vaccinated 21 days before travel. 

They must have been microchipped before or at the same time that they have received their rabies shot, otherwise they will need to complete a course of vaccinations again. 

(Image: Getty Images)

Read more: The organisation trying to reunite lost dogs with their owners

Unlisted countries

Unlisted countries have further checks they must go through before animals will be accepted into the UK. 

Firstly, the pet must have a blood sample taken at least 30 days after the rabies vaccination. The blood sample must be sent to be processed at an EU-approved blood testing laboratory.

The results of the blood test must show that the vaccination was successful and the rabies antibody level is at 0.5 IU/ml at least.

The vet must give you a copy of the test results and enter the day the blood sample was taken in a health certificate.

The blood test will then be considered to be valid as long as your pet’s rabies vaccinations are kept up to date.

You then must wait three months after the blood sample was taken before travelling to the UK.

Approved routes

You can only use routes and companies approved by the Animal and Plant Health Agency in order to transport your pet to Scotland and England.

If travelling to Northern Ireland you will need to contact the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs.

Pets usually travel as cargo, but different rules apply when the animal is an assistance dog like a Guide Dog.

They have a list of all the commercial and charter airlines you can bring your pets to the UK on here, and rail and ferry companies you can use here

Read more: Owner’s warning after dog swallows spikes on BBQ cleaning brush

(Image: Getty Images)

Travelling with more than five animals

Many UK-based rescue centres bring dogs from abroad to be rehomed, meaning that often they will have more than one animal travelling at a time.

The shelters then must always follow the commercial rules for importing animals if they’re being rehomed, sold, or their ownership is being transferred to owners in Great Britain, even if you’re travelling with fewer than five animals.

The process can be very complex, and new Brexit rules have added further complications as the animals will need different paperwork while travelling through the EU, and then upon arrival to the UK.

You can find out more about the commercial rules for importing animals here

Caring for your pet in quarantine

Finally, due to the ongoing Covid-19 restrictions, owners travelling with their pets can also be subject to their own set of rules.

If you have travelled from a red list country you won’t be able to leave the place you’re staying while you’re in quarantine to take your pet out for a walk or for vet appointments.

If you’re staying in a quarantine managed hotel, you cannot have your pet with you, unless they are a service animal.

You could arrange for someone who is not self-isolating or in quarantine to look after your pet while you’re in quarantine, or to collect your pet when it needs to leave the place you’re staying for any reason.

For more in depth information on travelling to the UK with animals, visit 

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