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Moving Pets Abroad

Zenyx Griffiths

Written by

18th Sep 2017 (Last updated on 19th Jan 2022) 10 minute read

There is no denying that us Brits adore our pets. For many, a household just isn’t complete without a cat or a dog. They are more than a pet, but a member of the family. Actually, most British Pets are like Royalty in our homes and they hold VIP status. We are total suckers for those cute little dopey faces.

The prospect of moving to a foreign country is exciting but many can be completely put off the idea if they think they can’t take their furry little pal with them or that, if they attempt it, their buddy will end up in quarantine for months on end. This is far too distressing a thought and one that pet lovers just couldn’t possibly contemplate.

It is a common misconception that pets need to be quarantined for long periods or that it is a difficult, near impossible task to take your dog or cat overseas to live with you there. There are rules and processes that must be followed to avoid quarantine but you can do this.

The pets that most people aim to take abroad with them when they are emigrating are dogs and cats so Compare My Move are here to tell you how.

If you are planning to relocate a more exotic pet then consult your vet and talk to the pet relocation service that you choose.

Your Step By Step Guide To Moving Abroad
  1. Pet Passports
  2. Moving Cats and Dogs to Europe
  3. Moving Cats and Dogs to Non-EU Countries
  4. Coming Back to the UK
  5. Pet Transportation Services
  6. Travelling with your Pet by Air
  7. How Pets are Stored
  8. How big will the crate be?
  9. How much will it cost?
  10. Pet Travel Insurance
  11. Airline Ticket

Pet Passports

A pet passport is an official record of your pet’s medical treatments. If you are planning on moving from or to the UK then your pooch or moggy will need either a pet passport or an official veterinary certificate from the UK or an EU country. A pet passport is an official registration document and it is compulsory for all dogs and cats to have them when travelling abroad.

They will need a rabies vaccine (sorry buddy), and they need microchipping if they aren’t already chipped. Different countries will have varying requirements. It is easier to move your dog within Europe and, as the UK is one of the strictest, having a UK Pet Passport should put you in good stead to get you to where you are going… Rover and Mittens and all. This is all part of the Pet Travel Scheme (PETS) which allows dogs, cats and ferrets to enter the UK and travel from the UK to European Countries without being quarantined (provided the regulations are adhered to).

To obtain a pet passport, you simply request one from an officially registered vet. In order to qualify, your pet must be at least 3 months of age, microchipped and vaccinated against rabies. Although the passport can be approved right after the rabies jab, it won’t be valid for another 3 weeks so you will not be able to travel with your pet until 3 weeks after the vaccination.

Moving Cats and Dogs to Europe

A valid and approved pet passport will get your pet from the UK to EU countries. A certificate to state that the dog is vaccinated against rabies must be included in the pet passport. Individual countries may demand other documentation such as a tape worm treatment so be sure to look into any potential specifics of the individual European country you are moving to.

Removal Costs Cta 1 Removal Costs Cta 1 560 Removal Costs Cta 1 360

Moving Cats and Dogs to Non-EU Countries

It can be significantly more complex to move a pet to a non-European country. Taking your cat or dog to unlisted, non-EU countries can be complicated and there can be extra rules and requirements than simply having a Pet Passport. Some non-European countries however, are part of the pet passport scheme. You can find out which countries are listed here.

Australia and New Zealand - Australia and New Zealand have specifically stringent rules and requirements. They may ask for blood samples to be taken or for further health checks on top of the standard requirement for microchipping and rabies jabs. It is best to have a full health check to increase your chances of reaching all of the requirements.

United States of America – If you are moving to the USA from the UK then you’ll be glad to know that the USA government class the United Kingdom as being free of rabies. The rules for importing pets is governed by the centre of disease control. The dog will need a rabies jab, 30 days before travel but, depending on what state you are moving to, if they have not had the vaccination then you will be required to sign an agreement that states you will keep your pet confined and away from other dogs for at least 30 days after the vaccination once you arrive.

United Arab Emirates - Your pet can travel with you to the UAE if they have a pet passport, they are microchipped and are up to date with annual vaccinations and for dogs, vaccinated against rabies. You will also need to show a residency visa or a letter of employment that states that you are moving to the UAE in order to get an import permit from the ministry of agriculture in the UAE. It is best advised that you allow several weeks for this as it can take a considerable amount of time and this can be down to a number of contributing factors including how many pets you will be taking and on their size.

What you will need to do to take your pet to live with you in a foreign country, without being subject to quarantine, will depend largely on where you are going and on the particular regulations enforced by that country. Be sure to find out the specific requirements and then contact your vet to make particular arrangements in plenty of time ahead of your move abroad.

Coming Back to the UK

As long as your pet’s passport is still valid then you can bring your pet back to the UK with you. You will also need to give your dog a tapeworm treatment.

The passport will be kept valid with regular rabies boosters. These are usually every 2 to 3 years but depending on what country you are moving to, you may be required to agree to vaccinate your dog against rabies annually.

Pet Transportation Services

Getting your cat or dog safely transported to your new home country requires the help of professionals and by fellow animal lovers. When you compare international removal companies with Compare My Move, you may find a company or service that will have the means to move your furniture and household belongings while also providing a pet relocation service. Some removal companies offer a door to door pet shipping service. You will speak to an expert and have your pet’s removal properly discussed so that you can find the best solution and a plan that will suit you and your furry baby.

A professional pet relocation company will usually offer a pet protection plan as well as help with and advice on export health certificates. Your pet will need to arrive no more than 5 days before or after you. It is worth keeping this in mind when planning your big move abroad.

Travelling with your Pet by Air

The pet relocation service that you choose should offer to collect the pet from your home to take straight to the airport. You will need to get a ‘Fit to Fly’ certificate from your vet which you can do as part of the pet passport request. This will include a recommendation of the appropriate crate size for dogs. It is advised that you get the fit to fly certificate as near to the travel date as possible

The airline that you are using will require the fit to fly certificate and details of the pet’s health check to ensure the welfare of the dogs and cats flying with them. Some airlines will take a pet as excess baggage if they are travelling with you.

Each airline enforces their own rules when it comes to transporting pets. Some countries, like for example, the USA, allow passengers to travel with a small pet in the cabin with them, whereas the UK do not allow this. Pet check-in is usually 4 hours before departure.

Be sure that the airline you choose take pets to the destination you require. They may fly to certain destinations but they may not take pets on these particular flights so it is vital that you do your homework. Some airlines such as Ryanair and EasyJet don’t take pets at all.

How Pets are Stored

We are all a little guilty of pampering our pets so our spoiled little lovelies may not know what has hit them when they are put into a cargo hold. You may be torturing yourself with thoughts of them being thrown onto the conveyor belt baggage claim with gusto (we’ve all seen the airport staff throwing our suitcases around like crazy). Then you will trouble yourself with an image of your pooch shivering and crying, stacked up in a cargo hold, surrounded by luggage.

There may be some very small truths in that. Don’t panic though… there will be no throwing, stacking or shivering. The pets are gently handled separate to the baggage. They are taken to a compartment below the cabin that is pressurised and temperature controlled and their crates will have water bowls attached.

Your pet must travel in an IATA (International Air Transport Association) compliant pet crate. The crate may also need to meet other requirements depending on the airline so be sure to check so that you are fully clued up on what is needed. It is usually advised that there be only one animal per crate but, depending on the weight and if they are the same species, sometimes two will be allowed to travel in the same crate. This can be particularly useful to those moving with two small dogs. It may be comforting to know that they will be with each other while they are going through this strange and unsettling experience.

TIP – PetMate crates are a good option as these usually meet all the requirements.

How big will the crate be?

It is paramount that you get the measurement of your pet’s crate just right. This is vital in keeping your baby comfortable but also in the cargo being accepted by the airline.

Use the below diagram to get an idea of the acceptable measurements.

A - Length from nose to root of tail

B - Height from ground to elbow

C- Width across shoulders

D - Height when standing (top of head or tip of ears)

Most airlines will require:

  • Crate length must be equal to A plus half of B.
  • Crate width must equal to C x 2
  • Crate height must be equal to D.

Some International flights may require:

  • Crate length equal to A + B
  • Crate width equal to C +1” x 2
  • Crate height equal to D + 3"

How much will it cost?


Estimated Shipping Cost
to the USA

Estimate Shipping Cost
to Australia

Small Dog£950£2000
Large Dog£1500£3000

There are other fees and costs that you need to consider such as the IATA approved crate that you use and depending on where you are going, you will also need to pay for the health checks, import permits and any extra health checks such as blood tests. If your pet isn’t already microchipped then this will be an additional cost. You may also need to pay for one nights boarding depending on the airline, the time of the flight and any delays.

Medical Costs

EssentialsEstimated Cost
Pet Passport£80 - £100
Micro Chipping£23 - £30
Rabies Vaccination£40 - £50
Blood Test£100 - £130
Health Check£20 - £30

The overall cost will naturally be dependent on various factors such as the size of your pet as well as the departure and arrival spot. Planning the move in plenty of time will be hugely advantageous as will shopping around and getting quotes as this can be a pricey affair.

Pet Travel Insurance

It is wise to take out pet travel insurance to cover the move. This will cover any potential expenses. If your pet already has health insurance then it may be that they are also covered for travel but you will need to check and add travel cover if it’s not already included in your policy.

Airline Ticket

Some airlines accept pets as part of your baggage allowance or excess baggage so this will be factored into the cost of your flight whereas with some airlines, you will need to pay for an airline ticket for your pet. You will need to check with the airline to get a clear idea of the cost.

So that’s that. If you will be moving abroad then good luck from Compare My Move. Be sure to compare international removal companies so that you get the best possible deal and we hope you and your dog or cat will be very happy.

Bon Voyage!

Zenyx Griffiths

Before Compare My Move, Zenyx once wrote lifestyle and entertainment articles for the online magazine, Society19 as well as news articles for Ffotogallery.

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