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How Do I Emigrate With My Pet?

Emigrate With Pets

Dear Essential Travel,
I have been thinking about taking a job abroad for quite some time now, but my main concern is the love of my life: my poodle, Conan. How easy is it to emigrate with dogs and cats? He has had all his jabs and such at home, but will he have to spend three months in quarantine there and again when we get back if I want to come home? Please help! Janice and Conan Turner, Leeds

Hi there Janice,

Thanks for your query. Taking dogs and cats abroad is fairly straightforward these days. Countries that are registered with Department of Environmental and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) all have roughly the same set of requirements that dogs and cats need to meet when going abroad. Most of the requirements should be covered by the standard jabs at the vet, but there are some extras. We cover them a bit further down the track.

The other good news is that from January 2012 the quarantine rule with dogs and cats entering the UK does not apply to pets that meet all the pet travel requirements - so long as you are returning from a country listed with the DEFRA.

Leaving The UK

Emigrating with dogs and cats is much easier, as long as your pets are given the correct inoculations and travelling with the right airline. The basic checklist for dogs and cats travelling within the EU and to registered non-EU countries is very simple:

  • Your dog or cat needs to be micro-chipped
  • Your dog or cat needs to be inoculated against rabies and tapeworm. These inoculations must be kept in date when you are travelling. Thirty days after the vaccination, take Conan to the vet for a follow-up blood test. The results of this blood test will be recorded in your passport, which will allow him back into the UK.
  • Get a pet passport for your dog or cat – this is especially important for anyone immigrating or emigrating.
  • You will need a letter from your vet, stating that your pet is healthy and well enough to fly.

For a full list of EU countries that comply with the above standards, take a look at the DEFRA website.

The main exception to the above is Australia – unfortunately if you are emigrating to Oz, your dog will have to remain in quarantine for three months upon arrival.

Bringing Dogs And Cats Back To The UK

The above standards apply to dogs and cats entering the UK, but they must have travelled with an airline approved by the Animal Health and Laboratories Agency along an approved route – this also applies to pets leaving the UK. This is not as scary as it sounds. You will find all the details for flight, shipping and rail routes on the DEFRA website.

North And South America

There are no extra vaccinations or checks for dogs and cats travelling to the Americas. Your pet may be required to have a rabies injection on arrival, but this is as strict as it gets.

Last Updated: April 2012

Clayton Truscott

Clayton Truscott

Clayton is a comfortable traveller, having grown up in a small city that was far away from everything. He spent lots of time in the car as a child, driving up and down the coast of South Africa on surfing trips with his family. After studying abroad in the United States and spending a year working in London, he moved to Cape Town, where he completed a Master's Degree in Creative Writing. He now works as a freelance writer for various travel, surfing and action sports publications.