How to Travel with a Dog to the UK from Outside Europe

If you’re travelling to the United Kingdom with your dog, it’s far more difficult than travelling with a dog to other countries in Europe. This is because pet dogs flying into the UK can only fly as cargo. For this reason, whether you’re trying to fly a dog from the USA to the UK or from somewhere else in the world, you may want to consider some of the alternatives. 

Travel with dog to uk

Note: This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive commission if you make a purchase using the links. See my full disclaimer.

Can You Fly to the UK with a Dog?

Dogs are able to fly to the United Kingdom, but dogs are not able to fly into the UK in the cabin or as check-in baggage. The UK government only permits pet dogs to fly to the UK as cargo, using an approved carrier to an approved airport. 

For many owners of small dogs who understandably only fly their dog in the cabin, at their feet, this poses a difficulty. But even if your dog normally flies in the hold as excess baggage, in comparison flying a dog as cargo is a more complicated and expensive process.  

Fly to UK with dog - it's not possible to fly with your pet dog in the cabin
It’s not possible to fly to the UK with your pet dog in the cabin

When flying as cargo, dogs usually need to be booked through the separate cargo division of the airline, or a completely separate freight company. The cost to fly a dog as cargo is often quite expensive, far more than the cost of flying a dog in the cabin or as excess baggage. 

Additionally, when you fly to the UK with a dog from outside the UK, your dog will need to pass through customs clearance before you can collect it. You’ll need to make a booking for this, possibly through an agent, if this isn’t take care of by your pet transport company or freight company. Send an email to the National Clearance Hub ([email protected]) for more information. During 2022, there were at times long delays for available slots at some UK airports.

Naturally, customs clearance isn’t free of charge. Expect the fees including agent fees and inspection fees to total up to £600. You will also be charged a value added tax of 20%, based on your pet’s breed and the cost of their transport, although this can later be refunded.

The cost of shipping a dog from USA to UK can be quite expensive when a dog flies directly to the UK. These charges don’t apply for dogs crossing to the UK by ferry or car. 

Travelling to the UK after Brexit
It’s expensive to fly a dog to the UK in cargo

Consider Flying to Paris or Amsterdam Airports

Instead of directly flying to the UK with your dog, instead consider flying to another airport within Europe, then travel by another option across the Channel, to travel with your dog to the UK.  

The most popular alternative airports to fly into within Europe with your dog are Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport and Amsterdam Airport Schiphol. As well as being busy airports with a large number of flights arriving from all around the world, both of these airports allow you to arrive with a dog in the cabin (or as checked baggage). 

Travel with dog to UK
Consider flying into Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport with your dog

Additionally, there are feasible options to then travel onwards to the UK with your dog as a “foot passenger”, without hiring a car. (With cars driving on the opposite side of the road in the UK compared to Continental Europe, forget about a one-way car hire to head to the UK!) 

Taking a Ferry Across to the UK

Once you arrive in Paris or Amsterdam, there are multiple ferry options available to foot passengers with a dog to take you to the UK.  

Taking a Ferry from France to the UK

From Paris, foot passengers with a dog are permitted on the DFDS Seaways ferry from Dieppe to Newhaven, on the southern coast of England. The ferry crossing takes about 4 hours, but once you add on the train journeys at either end the journey from Paris to London takes a full day. Read my review of completing this journey when I visited the UK.  

Note that the other ferries between France and England do not permit foot passengers to bring pets onboard. 

DFDS Ferry Dieppe to Newhaven with a Dog
The DFDS Seaways Ferry from Dieppe allows foot passengers to book pets

Taking a Ferry from the Netherlands to the UK

If you fly into Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, you have more options. Firstly, there is the Stena Line ferry from Hook of Holland to Harwich, on the eastern coast of England. There is an overnight or shorter day ferry crossing, with pet-friendly cabins and excellent pet kennels located onboard the ship. Read my review about taking this ferry or click here to find out more.  

Secondly, there is the DFDS Seaways ferry from Amsterdam to Newcastle, in northern England. This ferry has the pet-friendly cabins, as well as kennels. While a longer crossing, it’s more convenient if you are heading to northern England or Scotland. Read this review by someone else taking the ferry or find out more about the DFDS pet-friendly cabins

Importing dogs to UK
The Stena Line ferry docked at Hook of Holland

Finally, foot passengers can also bring a pet onboard the P&O ferry from Rotterdam to Hull. This ferry has recently added three pet-friendly cabins, in addition to their pet kennels. It even has pet exercise areas at both ferry terminals. It generally operates as an overnight crossing. Click here for further information. 

A short train journey is required from the airport to any of the relevant ferry terminals in the Netherlands. Pets are allowed on trains in the Netherlands.

Using a Pet Taxi or Pet Transport Service

Instead of taking a ferry across to the UK with your dog, you could instead consider using a pet taxi or a pet transport service. These options are particularly popular for pets arriving in Paris. 

With pet taxis, there are multiple providers that take advantage of pets being allowed in vehicles using the Eurotunnel, one of the quickest and easiest ways to travel with a pet in between the UK and France, as long as you have a vehicle. 

Most frequently, people travelling with a dog just take a pet taxi between Calais Ville or Calais Fréthun and Folkestone Central stations. On either end, simply travel by train on the dog-friendly trains in France and the UK. The pet taxi typically costs about £100, on top of the normal Eurotunnel fees. 

However, it’s also possible to book a pet taxi for the entire trip from Paris to London, or another destination, at a higher cost.

Two frequently used pet taxis are Folkestone Taxis and Pet Moves. A newer option is Le Pet Express, which offers shared minivans, but only on weekends at this point.  

There are also some companies that are specifically set up to transport dogs longer distances between European countries and the UK. These companies can pick your pet up from Charles de Gaulle or Schiphol Airports and transport your pet to your address in the UK, while you fly to the UK or take the non-dog-friendly Eurostar.

Two DEFRA-certified companies are Happy Saluki Pet Transport and Jane’s Euro Pet Taxi

Bringing dog to UK
There’s multiple ways to bring a dog to the UK

What About a Cruise Ship Across the Atlantic?

Another alternative if you’re bringing a dog from the US to the UK, may be to book a crossing on the Queen Mary 2 across the Atlantic, disembarking at Southampton in England. This is particularly popular with owners of larger dogs, that are too large to fly in the cabin on any airline. The Queen Mary 2 is one of the few pet-friendly cruise ships

However, keep in mind that there a lot of demand for the pet kennels onboard the Queen Mary 2, so the kennels are typically booked out a year or more in advance! It might be possible to put your name down on a waiting list, in case a berth becomes available sooner. 

Paperwork for Travelling to the UK with Your Dog

Due to the United Kingdom leaving the EU following Brexit, the rules and paperwork for importing dogs to the UK have changed. The main change is that pets travelling to Great Britain require a Great Britain pet health certificate, rather than the EU pet health certificate (Annex IV).

The remainder of the rules for importing dogs to the United Kingdom are essentially the same as for pets travelling to anywhere in the EU. Pets are required to be microchipped and vaccinated against rabies.

Dachshund Vaccination at Veterinarian
Dogs travelling to the UK need to be vaccinated against rabies © Depositphotos

Additionally, the UK is one of the few countries in Europe requiring a worming treatment for dogs, administered by a vet between 24 hours and 5 days of arrival in the UK, with no change to this requirement. All of this needs to be documented in a pet passport or Great Britain pet health certificate.

For the full details on bringing a pet to the UK, see the government website.

Requirement for Two Pet Health Certificates

If you’re firstly travelling to the EU and then onwards to the UK, things will be a little more complicated. You need to make sure you fulfill the requirements for your pet to travel both to the EU and to the UK.

In particular, you will need two pet health certificates, both an EU and GB pet health certificate. There are some reports of vets and governments in some countries refusing to issue two pet health certificates at the same time, although hopefully this becomes more accepted.

Getting an EU Pet Passport

One alternative if you cannot be issued two pet health certificates, is to just get an EU pet health certificate. Then when you are transiting through Europe, go to the vet and get an EU pet passport. This pet passport is used for pets to travel within the EU, and can be used in future to travel from the UK back to the EU.

To get an EU pet passport, you will need to allow time to visit a vet, before continuing on to the UK. At the same time have your pet wormed, at least 24 hours before entering the UK, and recorded in the pet passport. This may also be a practical alternative if you’d like to spend some time in the EU before completing your journey, and your dog cannot be wormed beforehand, due to the short time frame of validity.

The EU pet passport of our dog

It’s best to book an appointment with a vet in advance, and ensure they will issue you an EU pet passport. In particular, there are recent reports of vets in France no longer issuing EU pet passports to those without a locally registered dog.

Note that not all veterinarians will copy across your existing rabies vaccination (I’ve generally heard of this occurring in Germany) or that UK customs may question a rabies vaccination predating the pet passport, as was the case when I boarded my ferry to the UK. Either keep all your different paperwork as proof or consider getting a rabies booster shot in the EU, to be recorded on your EU pet passport.  

The other alternative is to ask a vet in the EU to issue you with a GB pet health certificate, but this is not common within the EU, due to the usage of pet passports.

What About When Leaving the UK?

While there are no restrictions on pets flying in the cabin or as checked baggage when leaving the UK, very few airlines offer this option, even European airlines. There are reports of Air France and KLM offering it, but they do not confirm this online. Double check with your preferred airline, and consider crossing back over to Paris or Amsterdam to fly your pet out of Europe with more options. 

I have checked with a number of American airlines, and none of them state online that they will fly dogs in the cabin when leaving the UK. American Airlines doesn’t fly pets in the cabin on any trans-Atlantic flights, while both Delta and United rule out pets in the cabin on flights both to and from the UK. However, there are reports that Delta will fly pets out of the UK, so check with them directly if they currently allow this.

United Airlines Plane
It’s not an option to fly a pet out of the UK with United Airlines

An alternative option for flying from the UK to the USA with a dog in the cabin is to fly via Canada, as it’s possible to fly a dog from the UK to Canada. On the Air Canada website they specifically mention that they accept pets for travel both in the cabin and in the hold on flights from the UK.

Another potential Canadian airline that you could use to fly out the UK with your pet is Air Transat. I’ve heard reports of someone flying this route a few years ago, although the current website is a little vague. 

You May Also Like

Inspired? Pin this to your Pinterest board!

17 thoughts on “How to Travel with a Dog to the UK from Outside Europe”

  1. Hi i d like to fly with my pet from miami to UK how could i do this? Maybe i could send him alone , i suppose that it s more expensive but if i dont have the choice😏thank you for helping me
    Patricia maizil

    Reply
    • Your dog would be able to fly to the UK directly in cargo. However, if you want to fly your dog in the cabin, many travelers instead fly to France or the Netherlands.

      Reply
  2. Hi Shandos – Thank you for this informative post. I am making plans to fly to the UK from NYC in January. I have a 10 pound dog and planned to travel in cabin with her until I was surprised by the new rules. Traveling Cargo is a time consuming and confusing process. At this point the cost for British Airways – through IAG Cargo — is $800 to ship her there. Added to this will be the cost for an England Cargo company, James Cargo to pick her up and take her through customs, add to that the VAT and the cost will be upwards of 2k. Ugh. So, after a long winded rant, some of your ideas are percolating with me though I just want to be clear. Based on what you said this is what I am thinking:
    – fly into Amsterdam or Paris, dog in cabin
    – hire a pet taxi to drive my dog to London
    – I take Eurostar and meet them there
    – When I go through customs with my dog in tow in Eurozone, will they ask for the Pet Certificate at that time? Should I compile two pet certificates while in the USA. One for UK and one for Europe?
    – Will my dog have to go through Customs when it arrives in UK with Pet Taxi?
    Complicated stuff I know but the possible option of not using Cargo, both because of cost and because I’m nervous about its effect on my dog, sounds so good to me. Thanks so much!!

    Reply
    • You’ll need to have two pet certificates done, both the EU one and the new GB one (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/pet-travel-apply-for-a-gb-pet-health-certificate). With the EU one, generally the airline checks it at check-in. Most people report customs in Paris as not checking it, but they might. With the UK, the GB certificate will be checked by UK customs before getting on the Eurotunnel or ferry. If you are leaning towards a pet taxi, generally they can transport you as well, you don’t need to take the Eurostar separately. Hope this helps! It would be great if dogs could fly in the cabin to the UK, instead Brexit has complicated things further!

      Reply
  3. I flew out of the UK (in Aug)with KLM and they told me that I could also do that with Delta and Air France as they are all under the same umbrella. It gets so confusing and with Covid on top, it’s overwhelming. I’ve traveled for over 40+ yrs and this is unreal.

    Reply
    • Thanks for the heads up April! It’s pretty crazy at the moment with Covid, hopefully things start to return to normal in 2022.

      Reply
  4. Hi, I was wondering if this route through Europe is still a good option? I am planning to do it with my cat from Korea in May, but I heard from some people that it might be risky now. They interpret the rule to mean that my paperwork from Korea would not be accepted because I am technically coming from France so I will need a pet passport, however, I have seen others say that if I have all the correct paperwork everything will be fine and I can enter without a pet passport.
    I was told that to get a pet passport in France I would need to get him vaccinated again and then I would have to stay in the country for a month for the vaccine to be valid.
    I am really desperately trying to find other people who have been doing this route within the last few months successfully, or advice on how I can be successful doing it, otherwise I will have to pay over £2000 to have him shipped via manifest cargo.
    Thank you for any advice you can give me.

    Reply
  5. Air Canada is good for pets in cabin out of the UK . To return… Air France to Paris, domestic train to Dieppe. Pet can go with you as a foot passenger on Dieppe to Newhaven ferry (warning Dover Calais ferries and eurostar trains do NOT allow this). Pet and documentation are checked in Newhaven then you’re free to travel on all domestic trains in the UK with your pet.

    Reply
  6. Hi,

    I’m traveling to the USA from the UK via amsterdam. I have time to get a EU passport on the way over to the USA but not on the way back. So do you know how that would work with coming back to the uk? Would I get the vet in the USA (who is administering the tapeworm treatment) to document it on the GB health certificate or the EU pet passport?

    Reply
    • Vets outside of the EU cannot document rabies vaccines in the EU pet passport, but it’s not 100% clear they can add worming treatments to it. To be safe, it’s probably better for it to be documented in a health certificate. Additionally, note that an Animal Health Certificate issued in Great Britain can be used to return to Great Britain for up to 4 months.

      Reply
  7. Hello,

    Did you have to complete paperwork for Customs or a Transfer of Residence form?

    I am coming home to the UK with my adopted cat but i read you have to get clearance from customs?

    Thank you

    Reply

Leave a Comment