Does Your Pet Need A Passport When Traveling to Britain?

Relocating to the UK can be an exciting new adventure.  It can also include a daunting list of must-do’s, including acquiring passports for the whole family. With all the things you must do, don’t forget the dog! Do you need to think about a pet passport from the US to the UK?  While not as restrictive as Australia, the UK has specific requirements for allowing your dog into their country. Get these items taken care of early to avoid last-minute hassles:

Get Spot Microchipped

He should be chipped anyway but the UK isn’t going to let your boy in without one.  Make sure the chip meets ISO 11784 and ISO 11785 standards, or bring your own microchip scanner.  The consequences of not having a readable chip includes rechipping, quarantine and getting a new passport.  Save yourself (and your pet!) the stress, and make sure his chip meets the ISO standards.

Make Sure He Has a Passport

A pet passport is basically a certificate of health. Since the US is a “listed country”, the passport documentation from your vet is acceptable (go here if your vet doesn’t issue pet passports). This site includes a link to the form and step-by-step guidelines for getting the necessary documentation. The passport should include:

  • Ownership
  • A description of the dog.
  • Details of his markings, or other physically identifying characteristics
  • Rabies vaccine (make sure he’s chipped first, or you’ll need to have him vaccinated again). Have this done no less than 21 days before travelling.
  • Results of a rabies blood test (if needed)
  • Details of the vet issuing the passport (if Spot’s passport is dated after 12-29-2014)
  • Details of your dog’s tapeworm treatment (must be between 1 and 5 days of entering the UK)
  • Vaccination record (including microchip number, date of insertion, and location of chip)

Make sure all the information is in the proper place on the passport!  Improperly entered info may result in delays that will prevent Spot from travelling with you!

Check Your Airline’s Pet Policy

As if that weren’t enough, each airline has its own requirements!  The US State Department provides some basic information, and links to airline contacts, here. This site has links to pet policies for 160 airlines.

Make Sure You Land At The Right Place!

There are specific routes and points of entry for pets. According to this list (and it changes, so check back before you book your flight!), London Heathrow is a safe choice, as most international carriers from the US fly to that airport.

Get Spot Ready To Fly

This site is an excellent resource for flying with your dog, regardless of size.  It has tips on keeping Spot calm in the cabin of the plane, how to get him ready for flying in the cargo hold, and the best type of crates for air travel.

What About Brexit?

Contrary to sensationalist propaganda, the British government is not collapsing.  All requirements that were in place prior to the ‘Brexit’ vote are still in effect.  Beware of irresponsible reports that say different.  When in doubt, check with the US State Department, your travel agent, or even the British Consulate.

In Summary

Make a checklist of everything that you need to do for your pet’s move.  Include time frames (remember, the rabies shots and tapeworm treatments have specific number of days/hours required), contact numbers of your vet and airline if something goes wrong, and last-day to-dos to make sure Spot is comfortable on the flight.

Getting ready for a new home in a new country is a big deal.  If you take care of Spot’s needs as early in the process as possible you’ll have less on your mind, which will be enormously helpful as you try to convince your middle-school age daughter that her world is not ending because she is leaving her friends.  But that’s a topic for another day.


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