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This article is from the year 2003 - The movement by dogs and other pets into England has been greatly simplified since this article was written - See these links for current information.
Going to the U.K. With A Dog
Other International Border Crossing With Pets
Air Travel With Dogs


Taking Your Dog From the U.S. or Canada Into England is Possible, But Still Too Complicated for Most Dog Lovers

Many dog lovers were excited to hear about Britain's PETS (Pet Travel Scheme) Program. This program permits qualifying countries to allow people traveling with dogs to avoid the lengthy 6 month U.K. pet quarantine. Back on November 20, 2002, Britain announced that effective December 11, 2002, both the U.S. and Canada are now considered qualifying countries. Now a pet owner can follow a check list of requirements in order to bring their pooch with them to the U.K. However, there are still several drawbacks to this program. If any of the requirements in the PETS program are not followed, your dog will still be placed into quarantine, with a petition for early release. All dogs must enter into England via cargo on an airplane (an airplane's cargo section can be potentially dangerous for dogs). Dogs also cannot arrive via private plane or boat. And if you own a Pit Bull Terrier, Japanese Tosa, Dog Argentino, or a Filo Braziliero, do not even think of coming to England. These breeds are considered "dangerous dogs" by the UK and might be seized and destroyed. If you are determined to visit the U.K., or just curious about the requirements, the following is a summary of Britains Pet Travel Scheme. For full details or before you travel, you will need to visit Defra's website (official website for PETS).


Pets must qualify and meet all of the rules and regulations listed below to be considered for the Pet Travel Scheme. If your dog does not qualify for any reason (including a faulty or unreadable microchip), he or she will be required to enter quarantine with a petition to obtain early release.

Rules and Regulations, And How to Prepare Your Dog

1. Qualify: Dogs must first qualify for the Pet Travel Scheme. Pets must come from a qualifying country, like the U.S. or Canada, and cannot have been outside qualifying countries during the six months before your dog enters the UK. 

2. Microchip (At Least 6 Months or more before traveling): Dogs must have a microchip inserted underneath their skin by a vet. The microchip must be inserted BEFORE the required rabies vaccine. Have your vet test the microchip before and after it is placed in your dog, and each time your dog visits the vet. Microchips given in the U.S. and Canada typically do not meet ISO Standards. The microchip needs to use ISO Standards in order to be read by the U.K. microchip readers. Therefore, you should bring your own microchip reader with you. This is especially important if traveling to the U.K. first, then other European countries, and then back into the U.K. If your dog's microchip cannot be read, your dog will most likely have to go into U.K. quarantine. Be sure to bring all original microchip paperwork with you from the vet.

3. Rabies Vaccination (At Least 6 Months or more before traveling): Dogs must be at least 3 months old to receive a rabies vaccine. The vaccine must be done AFTER the microchip has been placed in your dog. Your vet is responsible for recording the following information on your dog's rabies vaccine record: microchip number, dog's date of birth/age (if known), date of vaccination, vaccine product name, vaccine batch number, and date by which the booster must be given (usually 1 to 3 years from current shot). Bring the information with you.

4. Blood Test (At Least 6 Months or more before traveling): AFTER your dog has received the microchip and the rabies vaccine, you must have your dog's blood checked to show that the rabies neutralizing antibody titer is equal to or greater than 0.5 IU/ml. The blood test must be done in the U.S. or Canada. Your vet MUST send the blood sample to a lab that is recognized by the U.K. Pet Travel Scheme. Look at the PETS website below for details and for finding a recognized lab. Your vet must give you paperwork with the following information: a record or paperwork stating the date that the blood sample was taken, your dog's microchip number, and a copy of the blood test result with the microchip number clearly stated. If your dog fails the blood test, another vaccination, blood test and 6 month rule will probably be required. You will need to carry the blood test results with you.

5. Official PETS Certification (6 months or more AFTER your dog passed the blood test, before traveling): If your dog passed the blood test, a PETS certificate will be issued ONLY when 6 months or more has passed since the blood test was given and passed. This is called the "6 Month Rule" which is in place just in case a dog became infected with rabies before the rabies vaccine. Supposedly a dog infected with rabies would show clinical signs of rabies within 6 months. The certificate MUST be obtained from a vet that has been authorized the by U.S. or Canada government to issue such certificates. Take your dog, the vaccination record, and blood test result when going to get the certificate. Ask your vet if they are authorized to issue this certificate or get a recommendation for a vet that is authorized. The certificate must show "Valid from" and "Valid until" dates. Your dog can only enter the U.K. between those two dates. The "Valid from" date will be 6 months from the date that your dog's blood was tested. Ask your vet for a renewal certificate each time your dog is given a booster shot. The booster shot must be given by the "Valid until" date. Then your renewal certificate is valid as soon as it is issued.

6. Tick and Tapeworm Treatment and Certification (24 to 48 hours BEFORE your dog gets on the plane): Your dog is required to be treated for parasites between 24 and 48 hours BEFORE your dog is checked at a US or Canada airport leaving for the U.K. An official certificate for parasite treatment is required. A vet must give the tick and tapeworm treatment. Pet owners are not allowed to give the treatment themselves. Vets are required to use a parasite treatment that includes the product "praziquantel" for tapeworms, along with a product licensed for use against ticks and the product must have a marketing organization within the United States and Canada. Tick collars are not acceptable. The certificate must be official and not a private veterinary certificate or letterhead to show that it has been done. The official certificate is one issued for the purposes of PETS by the US or Canada government. It will have the name of the government department at the top. The official certificate must show your dog's microchip number, the date AND time of treatment, and the products used. The vet must also sign, stamp and date the certificate. If using a pet transport company, make sure they arrange for your dog's PETS certificate and tick and tapeworm certificate to accompany your pet (you should also have copies). The parasite treatment is required every time your dog enters the U.K. 

Please note: If your dog failed the PETS requirements only because of the tick and tapeworm requirements not being met, it might be possible to have your dog treated in the U.K. quarantine and then released after 24 hours of the required treatment. If your dog arrives at Heathrow Airport, the treatment can be done at the airport. If you fly into any other airport, your dog will need to go into quarantine for treatment. If your dog is entered into quarantine, your will need to get approval for your dog's early release. 

7. Bring All Documents With You: You must bring all documents and certifications with you. This includes microchip paperwork (and a microchip reader), rabies vaccine information, blood test paperwork and results, an official PETS Certificate, and an official Tick and Tapeworm Certificate. 

8. Additional Requirements: You will need to use an approved route and air carrier for entry into the U.K., have an official seal on your dog's carrier or container, a declaration of residence (PETS 3 Form), and Customs paperwork. Please continue reading below for details about these additional requirements for bringing a dog from the U.S. or Canada into the U.K. or call the PETS Help-line listed below.

Additional Required Rules and Travel Information

1. Approved Route and Air Carrier Required: Dogs traveling to the UK from the US or Canada are required to travel to the UK on an air route approved by the UK Government. Dogs may not enter the UK on a route departing from any other country. Upon arrival to the U.K., the only acceptable airports that will accept your dog are located in England, and NOT in Scotland, Wales, the Channel islands, the Isle of Man, Northern Ireland or the Republic of Ireland. If your dog does not travel on an approved route you will need to arrange for your dog to be placed into quarantine BEFORE you travel. You can request a petition for early quarantine release. Be sure to check with your airline if they are an approved air carrier or call the PETS Help-line (number listed below).

2. Cargo and Official Seal Required: Your dog MUST travel in cargo on an airplane and have an official seal on the pet carrier. The dog container or carrier must comply with IATA (International Air Transport Association) standards. There MUST be an official seal on the container or carrier. The seal is supposed to ensure that your dog has not been exposed to the risk of rabies while in transit. A government official (i.e. customs or migration officer) must apply the seal and record the seal number on the official Tick and Tapeworm Certificate. Your airline should be able to help you make the required customs arrangements.

Please note: If the seal is broken during the trip, a government official of the country in which it was broken must replace it with a new seal. The official must certify in writing that your dog did not come into contact with any other animal during the time when the seal was broken. The new seal number must be recorded on the appropriate paperwork. 

3. Declaration of Residence (PETS 3 Form): You must complete a declaration of residence (PETS 3 Form) when you arrive in the UK with your dog. This paperwork confirms that your dog has not been outside certain countries in the 6 months before entering the U.K. Call the PETS Help-line for a list of countries. You are still allowed to sign the declaration as long as your dog has not left his or her container or carrier (unless under official supervision) during transit or at a stopover on your dog's trip to the U.K.

4. Customs Paperwork: Customs paperwork is required upon entry into the U.K. Contact the customs authorities in your U.K. arrival point to make arrangements to bring your pet into the country. Some travel agents, travel companies and airlines should be able to make arrangements for you. Check with your airline or travel agent regarding any extra charges for bringing a pet into the UK.

Pets Are Checked Upon Arrival Into the U.K. 

Dogs are checked at the airport when they arrive in England. If any of these checks fail, your dog will need to be re-exported or go into quarantine. The following will be checked. 

- Your dog's microchip will be scanned and verified
- The official PETS Certificate will be verified
- The official Tick and Tapeworm Certificate will be verified
- You are required to provide the top copy of the completed PETS 3 Form (declaration of residence-see above).
- The seal on your dog's container or carrier should still be sealed and intact.

Once Inside England (and Going to Other European Countries)

Dogs that have successfully entered into England using the PETS Scheme can travel freely within the U.K. (England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, the Channel Islands, and the Isle of Man) and between these countries and the Republic of Ireland without any extra documentation. You are still required to bring your PETS documents with you, just in case. 

If you take your dog from the U.K. into another European PETS country (i.e. Germany, France, Switzerland, Italy), you are required to have a UK PETS 1 certificate from a government authorized vet in the U.K., BEFORE you leave for another country. Always contact the PETS Help-line for a list of countries and any possible exceptions. 

When traveling to another European country, you might need an export health certificate or other documentation (import permit) before you can enter that particular country. Some countries also require that your pet be vaccinated against rabies with a specific time prior to arrival. You should always contact the proper authorities (the Embassy) in each country.

If traveling from the U.K. to France, and you have a PETS 1 certificate (above), you should apply for a PETS 5 certificate. Both certificates can be issued at the same time by a government authorized vet in the UK. By getting the PETS 5 certificate, you will not need a separate export health certificate. 

Only certain air, rail and boat carriers are approved for entering pets on the Pet Travel Scheme. Call the PETS Help-line for details or check their website (listed below). These carriers will check your dog's microchip and both certificates (PETS and the Tick and Tapeworm certificates). You will also need to provide the top copy of the completed declaration of residence form (PETS 3).

For Dogs That Go Into Quarantine Because Not All Requirements Are Met

Your dog can become eligible for an early quarantine release if you comply with ALL of the necessary PETS requirements. 

Entering Into the U.K. from Another European Country Like France

Dogs coming from France into the U.K. for the first time, must go through requirements similar to those arriving from the U.S. or Canada to the U.K. There are however some differences, so please contact the PETS Help-line for details.

Guide and Hearing Dogs

Guide and hearing dogs must meet same rules, except some transport companies offer different conditions in which these dogs may travel. Contact individual transport companies for details.

The process for bringing a pet into the U.K. is still quite an extensive ordeal. While Britain's Pet Travel Scheme is more acceptable than their original six month quarantine, it still really does not make sense for dog lovers wanting to bring their dogs with them on a vacation to the U.K. If you want to travel to Europe with your pooch, you will probably be a better off visiting France or Switzerland, or other European countries that have more relaxed requirements. 

For Help or Additional Information

Contact Defra (official Pet Travel Scheme organization) directly using the following information.

PETS Help-line: +011 44 870 241 1710 (Monday to Friday - 8.30am to 5pm UK time). 
If you cannot get through on the above number, please leave a message on the voice mail. 

Official PETS Website:

Please include your address and telephone number

Fax: +011 44 20 7904 6834

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