Moving Pets Abroad, UK to Europe, America and Australia


Moving Pets Abroad, UK to Europe, America and Australia

Moving abroad is a stressful time for any family, not least if you have a pet or two as significant members of your clan. For those who can’t bear to part with their furry friends, this is a short guide on the easiest places to move pets abroad. This article is based on UK citizens wishing to become expatriates.

For the purposes of simplicity, this guide will focus on moving cats and dogs. For more exotic pets it will 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.

Pet Passport

In accordance with, 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 vets, moving to Europe is usually the most straightforward option. A vet can issue your pet with a special passport which are standardised throughout European member states.

‘Lufthansa, KLM and Iberia are the main airlines carrying pets as excess baggage to Europe, up to a certain weight,’ states Gillian Lewis of, 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. adds; ‘The U.S. 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 particular 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 ‘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.’

UK to Australia

In most cases, the importation of dogs and/or cats to Australia is subject to strict rules and quarantine periods. AQIS is the authority which outlines the guidelines for moving pets ‘down under’.  These rules are as follows; ‘Confirm eligibility of your pet – for example, some breeds are banned. Dogs and cats must have a microchip. Apply for a Permit to Import. If approved, AQIS issue a permit, which contains the veterinary certificates to be completed and instructions on how to proceed. Book Quarantine Accommodation – there are quarantine stations in Perth, Sydney and Melbourne and demand for accommodation can be high. Locate a Government Approved Vet in your home country. Make Travel Arrangements for your pet. Obtain general vaccinations, such as distemper and kennel cough. Obtain a blood test (for dogs). Parasite treatment – within 4 days of export. Completion of Veterinary Certifcate A – within 4 days of export, Completion of Veterinary Certifcate B – usually on day of departure and Check Pet in with the airline.

UK to Australia Quarantine and Costs

The time in quarantine varies according to the country of origin. From the UK, pets are generally expected to be quarantined for 30 days. comments on quarantine, stating; ‘Quarantine Stations only exist in Perth, Sydney and Melbourne and there can be high demand for accommodation in these stations. You are responsible for daily accommodation fees for your pet while in quarantine, plus a number of additional fees such as airport pickup, vet inspections and so on.’ also comments on the costing of moving pets to Australia, stating; ‘Be prepared – bringing a dog or cat to Aus costs much more than a standard airline ticket for anyone else in the family. The cost depends on the size of the dog (not for cats unless they are abnormally large), the length of time in quarantine and whether there are any additional, unforeseen vet bills. As a guide, expect from about £1500 GBP for a small breed (eg. Jack Russell) up to £3500 GBP for a large breed (eg. German Shepherd). Then, quarantine costs in Aus should be around $800 AUD for a 30 day quarantine.’

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