Guide to bringing pets to the UK

mascota
Photo: Austin Kirk

When we decide to go live in another country, one of the problems that comes up for those of us who have pets is how to take them with us. Which company is the best one to make the move with, how much does it cost, what requirements does the animal have to meet to be able to fly, and, once in the UK, how should you look for flats that accept pets? All these questions that pet owners—who can’t be separated from their pets more than two days in a row—have are answered below.

Land, sea, or air?

Animals can travel to the United Kingdom by land, sea, and air. Which is the most recommended? Obviously, the most expensive way is by plane. The companies we know that travel with animals from Spain to the United Kingdom are Iberia, British Airways, and Air Europa, on flights landing in London Heathrow or London Gatwick.

If you’re worried about the security and comfort of animals flying with Airlines, I recommend this article, which answers questions about where the animals will be during the trip, if they need to eat, bringing toys, who looks after them during the journey, etc.

The following list the airlines and routes that accept animals:

As for the “sea” option, you can only travel with your pet in a ferry if you bring a car. The pet will travel inside its carrier in the car. In this case, rabbits are not accepted. These are the routes and ferries that accept animals: gov.uk/government/pets-sea-rail-routes.pdf

And the following website explains the requirements that dogs and cats must meet for sea travel and the price of the journey: brittanyferries.es/informacion-practica/viajando-con-mascotas

As for land travel, one way of transporting pets to the UK is to head to Calais, France. Once you’re there, there are two options: cross the channel through the Eurotunnel or catch a ferry. The couple in the following video recommends using the Eurotunnel, an option many people aren’t aware of:

This way you can be with your pet and it’s cheaper than the other options. According to the official website, it’s £16 per animal.

perro viajero

Companies specializing in animal transportation

If you decide to contract an animal transportation company so that they’ll take care of this for you, you have Pets Travel With Us. They carry out the transportation and international delivery of pets with monthly routes to England. They offer road and ferry routes from Santander to Portsmouth, in addition to paying extra attention to your pet to make sure s/he is comfortable throughout the trip. The website of this family business has all the information to you and a contact form.

Companies that transport pets:

Requirements your pet must meet

The following explain the requirements pets (dogs, cats, and ferrets) must meet to travel to the United Kingdom:

  • Passport in order: You need to have a European Passport for pets or an official certificate of health issued by the vet showing that the pet has a microchip and has been vaccinated.
  • Microchip: This needs to be put on before the rabies vaccination and it needs to read clearly. This way you avoid what happened to this dog, which travelled from the United States to Barcelona and was stuck at the airport because his chip couldn’t be read.
  • Rabies vaccination: This needs to be administered at least 21 days before travel. Rabies is an illness that has been eliminated from the United Kingdom and treat the subject very seriously.
  • Deworming: Your pet needs to have taken an anti-parasite pill between one and five days before entering the UK. This is only true for dogs.

Problems with renting

Once you’re dog or cat is with you, the next problem is with accommodation. Renting a flat in the United Kingdom with a pet is complicated. People are fairly opposed to it. It’s not impossible to do, but it’ll take longer than usual. One piece of advice is to introduce your pet to the landlord of the flat you want to rent. Explain that your pet is very good, that it doesn’t bark, and that it doesn’t destroy the furniture when it’s left alone. If they meet it and see it’s friendly, you’ll gain a lot of points.

We recommend you use the advanced search engines on Gumtree and/or Spareroom to see which properties allow pets. More info on pet-friendly agencies:

Tabby kitten, Stanley, 9 weeks old, in a cat carrying crate
Photo: warrenphotographic.co.uk

Your experience

We’ll end this article with personal stories from three of you, who told us how your experience was when you had to find out how to bring your pet to the UK.

Elena Herrero, who is still in the process of moving her dog to Bristol, tells us this: “I haven’t brought him yet. I was looking into it, but the companies that fly to Bristol don’t take animals and since it’s already difficult to find a house in the first place, with a pet… I’ve decided to wait a little bit until I’m settled in, and I’ll bring him over later. What I can tell you is that my dog has to have a microchip, has to have taken an anti-parasite pill between 1 and 5 days before entering the UK and get the anti-rabies shot at least 21 days before, and his passport needs to be up to date. The airlines that take animals that I know of are Iberia, British Airways, and Air Europa, and no matter what, my dog needs to go in the hold. Iberia was the one I felt the best about: it would cost me 120 euros. The pet carrier has to be authorized, meet the requirements, have a secure lock, the floor needs to be waterproof, and food and water have to be inside. The dog can weigh a maximum of 20 kg. There are companies that take your dog door to door, but the service costs about 500 euros. I also looked at having him brought by boat, but you have to bring your car”.

Marta RA tried to bring her dog, but in the end didn’t do it: “In the end I didn’t bring my pet to England. I only went for three months and left behind my boyfriend and my dog because it was too complicated. I met a boy from Valencia who is bringing his dog over. I don’t remember with what company. I only know he asked for help from an agency that looks for accommodation and a language school for you. He spent a lot of money, and after a few weeks of being there, he had problems because the dog barked and he sent it back to Spain. It’s difficult to find a flat if you have a pet, and it ends up being expensive and difficult to bring the pet over. As for whether or not English landlords are opposed to accepting pets, I was in Eastbourne and almost every family had a dog. They usually love animals, but it’s not the same thing to have one in your house and to rent it to someone who isn’t from your country and who also has a pet. They don’t always trust you, and in some place, like Bristol, there are so many people from outside the UK looking for accommodation that they’ll find someone without a pet or children”.

Almudena Pelegrina successfully moved her pet over. She tells us this: “I brought her by land, through a company specialized in transporting animals. They were super nice and there were no problems. The pet’s passport has to be up to date, just like the vaccines and deworming. Here people are usually more opposed to accepting pets, but we were lucky and we lived in two different houses with her. I think the trick is to have them meet your pet before, which is what we did. As far as summer homes for animals, there are several websites that advertise “pet sitters”. When I travelled to Spain, I left her with two different ones and it went very well”.

Conclusion

Our final recommendation is for you to take all the time you need to see how you can send your pet to the UK in the best way possible. A mistake on the passport or microchip can send your pet to quarantine at the airport, and you might even have to send it back to Spain. Follow all the steps and look for the most comfortable way for your pet to go, even if it’s a bit over your budget. It’s better to pay a little more so that your friend avoids problems in its new home.

animals
Photo: This Year’s Love

More information

If you want to tell us about your experience, you can comment on this article. And in case you need more information on the subject, we’ll leave you with the following pages:

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