Moving to the UK With a Dog


New Mexico, US
August 2005

New Forest, UK
September 2005

Moving from the US to the UK has been made easier by the addition of the US to the Pet Passport Scheme approved countries list. Dogs and cats no longer have to spend 6 months in quarantine. However, there is still a lot of work involved. The whole process takes between 7 and 8 months, more if your dog's first titer is too low. Here is a description of the process we went through in 2005:

  • The first thing we had to do was have Bodeus microchipped. Bodeus already had a microchip which was put in when he was a puppy but it is not an ISO chip, so we had to buy a reader and attach it to the crate when he left the country. The AVID reader cost around $200.

  • Then the Veterinarian gave Bodeus a rabies shot, he had not had one for two years, and the extra boost is often required for the titer test to be high enough.

  • 5 weeks later, Bodeus had a blood test known as the rabies titer test, it had to be sent to the KSU laboratory in Kansas. This cost $180. The titer must show > 0.50 IU/ml of rabies antibody level for the purpose of export and the UK Pet Passport Scheme. Bodeus' first titer was too low, so he had to have another rabies shot and wait another 5 weeks before another blood test. There is only one laboratory in the US where the test can be done. Click here for a list of DEFRA approved laboratories.

  • Bodeus then had to wait six months after the second blood test was drawn. After 6 months, he could enter the UK.

  • The flight had to be booked via an approved route with an approved airline - Click here for DEFRA Approved Routes. We used Houston Airport and Continental airlines, they were excellent - Click here for Continental Airlines Animal Policies. They have a Quickpak office at the bottom of Terminal C and there are animals going through all the time. The cost of shipping for Bodeus, a 70lb GSD was about $1500. When we booked the flight, we also had to get in touch with the receiver on the UK end of things - Click here for the PBS Pet Information Page. We had to fill out a customs form for how much Bodeus is worth, so that UK customs could calculate VAT. We paid the receiver when we paid for the flight at the Continental Quickpak office, an additional $45.

  • 10 days before travel, we went back to the Veterinarian for a 10 day health certificate and a Third Country Veterinary Certificate. Click here for the Third Country Veterinary Certificate. In 2005, this had to be printed on one page both sides, and filled out in BLUE ink, but I think this requirement has been dropped. The Veterinarian must be accredited by APHIS to fill out the first part of the Certificate including the rabies section.

  • We made sure we had at least a week between getting the certificates and leaving, so that there was time to send the Third Country Certificate, the 10 day Health Certificate and the Rabies Test Result documents to the USDA Veterinary Services Area Office. They stamped them and sent them back. This cost around $76 plus fedex both ways. Click here for APHIS export information

  • 24 - 48 hours before take off, Bodeus had another Veterinarian visit for Tick and Tapeworm treatment. Tick treatment was Advantix, Tapeworm had to be Praziquantel. The Veterinarian had to fill in the rest of the Third Country Veterinary Certificate in BLUE ink.

  • We needed several pieces of paperwork to take to the airport, as well as copies for ourselves. The originals were attached to the Bodeus' crate along with the AVID reader.

    Paperwork required for the flight:

    1. Third Party Veterinary Certificate on one sheet of paper, both sides printed, filled out in blue ink, the front page by our accredited Veterinarian, stamped and signed by an official at the USDA, then the second page filled out by the Veterinarian that carried out the Tick and Tapeworm treatment.
    2. The original Certificate from the Rabies Antibody Test
    3. Rabies Vaccination Certificate from our Veterinarian with Vaccination Type and Serial Number, this was also confirmed and signed by our accredited Veterinarian with the Microchip Number.
    4. 10 Day Veterinary Certificate for international transport signed by our Veterinarian and the USDA Veterinarian.
    5. Confirmation Number for our flight booking.

    We prepared our crates by placing cardboard at the bottom and covered that with 6 inches of torn packing paper. We bought 2 pint square containers for water and drilled holes in them at the top on one side. The ones that come with the crates are not big enough. These containers were filled with water and frozen. These were then attached to the inside of the crate door with twist ties just before we left for the airport. Then we filled out the live animals label on top of the crate. Bodeus flew in a 700 crate, there had to be 3 inches between the top of his ears and the crate. We had to buy a new crate at the airport as our 500 was not big enough. The Continental Desk has crates for sale and also wood kits to extend the height of crates. Bodeus had more space on his flight than we had in our seats!

  • When we arrived in England at London Gatwick, we went to the Cargo terminal, and to the British Airways counter, and told them our name and flight. They let us know when we could collect our dogs from the Animal Reception Center. It took about an hour. The airport staff cleaned the crates and let the dogs out and gave them a drink. Bodeus was very happy that I was there to get him, just a little dehydrated, but none the worse for his long flight.

  • When we settled in the UK, we had our Third Country Veterinary Certificate replaced by a UK Pet Passport which will make any subsequent trips much easier.