Regulations regarding the carriage of animals are complex and vary from country to country and airline to airline. You are advised to contact the authorities in the destination country, as well as seeking advice from your airline or a specialist pet travel agency, before planning your journey.
Airlines will only carry animals if arrangements have been made in advance, as space is often limited. There are two options and your airline will be able to tell you which services they are able to offer:
- Accompanied baggage – most airlines will accept animals as accompanied baggage providing they are in a suitable container. They will travel in the baggage compartment where a suitable environment can be maintained (note: animals arriving in the UK may only do so as manifested air cargo).
- Air cargo – owners can arrange for their animals to travel as air cargo without making the journey themselves.
These vary depending on the length of the journey, the weight of the animal and the size of the container. Your airline should be able to give you an estimate of the costs.
It is advisable to avoid arriving at some airports at weekends when inspection staff may not be on duty. Some airports have reception centres where animals can be released and cared for until inspection is possible.
Taking pets out of the UK
You must comply with the requirements of the destination country. Some will only require an export health certificate, some will need proof of vaccination and others will require you to obtain an import permit. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) operates an export helpline on +44 (0)20 7904 6347 or Fax +44 (0)20 7904 6395.
Arrival into the UK
Except for dogs and cats from specific countries that can comply with the requirements of the Pet Travel Scheme, all pets will be required to undergo a period of quarantine. Arrangements must be made and confirmed before the journey commences.
Pet Travel Scheme (PETS)
The Pet Travel Scheme is the system that allows:
Pet dogs, cats and ferrets to enter the UK without quarantine as long as they meet the rules.
People in the UK to take their dogs, cats and ferrets to other countries and territories, and return with them to the UK without the need for quarantine.
More information on this scheme can be found at www.defra.gov.uk.
It is important that, in addition to the health and documentation requirements, your animal travels in a suitable container which must be well ventilated and large enough that the animal can stand up, lie down and turn around freely. No part of the animal is allowed to protrude from the carrier and it should be secure and leakproof. Airlines and specialist agents should be able to advise you on obtaining such a container. Sedation is not recommended as the effects of the drugs and altitude are not predictable.
Guide and hearing dogs qualify for the scheme and must meet the same requirements. Some airlines permit them to travel in the cabin.