Fearing the importation of rabies and other animal diseases, Britain has some of the strictest quarantine regulations in the world. Virtually all mammals, apart from horses and farm livestock, are liable to be subjected to a 6-month quarantine period in an approved kennel.
Even if going into quarantine, pet-owners still need to obtain a license to import their pet (click here for an application form). Most quarantine premises are happy to submit applications for import licenses on your behalf, on the condition that you make use of their services and that the pet will be arriving at an approved port or airport. The quarantine premises may also offer to collect your pet on arrival. If not, you will have to enlist the services of an authorised carrying agent.
Costs of quarantine are in the region of £300/month for dogs and £200/month for cats. Different animals have different regulations. For example, birds spend a shorter time in quarantine (until it is established there is no risk of them carrying psittacosis).
Although cold-blooded animals (fish, reptiles etc.) are not subjected to a quarantine period, you will still need to obtain an import license.
The Pet Travel Scheme is a recent innovation that allows you to avoid quarantining when bringing your dog, cat, rabbit or “rodent” into the UK. Although an improvement on previous procedures, this scheme is not completely hassle free for pet-owners. The conditions of this scheme include having to surgically implant a microchip in your pet and getting a ‘pet passport’ (which details vaccinations and other necessary veterinary treatments). In addition, pets travelling under this scheme may only do so using specified sea, air and rail routes. You will need to enquire in your country of residence for details about how to get a pet passport.
Countries that have signed up to the Pet Travel Scheme include:
All EU countries (and associated territories), Andorra, Antigua & Barbuda, Aruba, Ascension Island, Australia, Bahrain, Barbados, Bermuda, Canada, Cayman Islands, Chile, Croatia, Falkland Islands, Fiji, French Polynesia, Grenadines, Hawaii, Hong Kong, Iceland, Jamaica, Japan, Liechtenstein, Mauritius, Mayotte, Monaco, Montserrat, Netherlands Antilles, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Norway, Russia, St Helena, St Kitts & Nevis, St Pierre & Miquelon, St Vincent, San Marino, Singapore, Switzerland, Taiwan, United Arab Emirates, USA (mainland), Vanuatu, Vatican, Wallis & Futuna.
The UK government department in charge of regulating quarantine and the Pet Travel Scheme is the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). For further information visit the pet importation section of their website by clicking here, or call its Pet Travel Scheme helpline: +44 (0)870 241 1710.