Home Moving Pets Abroad: Getting your Pets Overseas – Part One

Moving Pets Abroad: Getting your Pets Overseas – Part One

Posted by on December 1st, 2015.

Moving to another country can be a stressful time, particularly if you’ve got to work out the logistics of taking a beloved family pet with you. For those who can’t bear to part with their furry friends, this is a short two-part guide on some of the basic requirements to move pets abroad.

This article is based on UK citizens wishing to become expatriates and for the purposes of simplicity, it focuses on moving cats and dogs. For more exotic pets it would be prudent to contact either your vet or a specialist pet transport agency. It will also be wise to find out about exotic pet policies in the destination of your choice.

Research is key here, the smallest oversight could make the difference between having your pet with you from the off having to wait for a long time before reuniting. It may even be worth employing a specialist lawyer who has had previous experience moving pets overseas, especially if they have done so in the country you are wishing to relocate to.

In part one we’ll be looking at moving pets from the UK to Europe and the USA.

Pet Passport

In accordance with gov.co.uk, requirements for a pet passport are as follows; ‘a microchip, a rabies vaccination, a pet passport or third country official veterinary certificate and a tapeworm treatment (for dogs only). You must also use an authorised carrier and an approved route unless you’re travelling between the UK and the Republic of Ireland (all other rules still apply).You must wait 21 days from the date of the rabies vaccination before travelling.’

UK to Europe

For British expats with pets, moving to Europe is usually the most straightforward option. A vet can issue your pet with a special passport which is standardised throughout European member states. It is worth remembering, however, that you will still need to have all the requisite proof that your pet has received the correct vaccinations. These vaccinations should be completed well before you plan on leaving as results can take a long time to come and unexpected complications may cause delays.

There are several airlines that are willing to transport pets abroad. However, some people may wish to research alternative methods of travel. Always make sure you have read all the fine print from the travel company and ask detailed questions well in advance of travel to prevent any unforeseen hiccups.

‘Lufthansa, KLM and Iberia are the main airlines carrying pets as excess baggage to Europe, up to a certain weight,’ states Gillian Lewis of www.airpets.com, a pet-relocation service based at Heathrow. ‘Whether pets are checked in as cargo or excess baggage, they will travel comfortably in the livestock hold, which is pressurised and heated. Very few airlines may allow small pets in the passenger cabin.’


Given that the UK is a rabies-free nation, moving to most states in the US is relatively easy-going. However policies do alter from state to state so it’s worth thoroughly researching the specific rules of the state you are relocating to.

As with Europe, to move a pet to the United States your pet(s) are required to have a microchip and pet passport. Foreignborn.com adds; ‘The US Public Health Service requires that pet dogs and cats brought into this country be examined at the first port of entry for evidence of diseases that can be transmitted to humans. Dogs coming from areas not free of rabies must be accompanied by a valid rabies vaccination certificate.’

Another important point to consider is the temperature of your chosen state. There are restrictions on pet travel during particularly hot or cold months. ‘It may still be possible to move pets to these destinations but the choice of airline would be reduced,’ states Mrs Lewis of Airpets.com. ‘An Acclimatisation Certificate is required if pets are travelling with an American airline, such as Delta or United, during temperature-restrictive periods. ‘Pets usually travel in the livestock hold of direct passenger flights, are checked and watered at stopovers and are then collected after clearing customs. Airlines such as United Airlines, Delta and Air Canada accept dogs and cats as excess baggage into North America.’

If you still have concerns about transporting your pet to either Europe or the US get involved in some online expat forums and chat to other people who’ve moved their furry babies overseas. You may also want to talk to your vet about herbal or medicinal remedies for keeping your pet calm during travel.

Join us for part two where we’ll be looking at the ins and outs of transporting your pets to Australia.

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