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Importation of animals

If you are planning to move animals overseas please refer to the advice provided by DEFRA on exporting animals. You should also check the regulations on importing animals with the country you are travelling to.

Bring animals into the UK

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If you are bringing animals into the UK you must follow the quarantine regulations.

The rules from bringing your pets into the UK will depend on where you're travelling from.

Download our leaflet on Advice on pet animals entering and re-entering Cornwall 

There are no restrictions on bringing pet rodents, rabbits, birds, invertebrates, amphibians and reptiles to the UK from other EU countries.

Pet rabbits and rodents from countries outside the EU must spend 4 months in quarantine. They need a rabies import licence.

The Rabies (Importation of Dogs, Cats and Other Animals) Order 1974, as amended, gives powers to destroy animals landed without a pet passport. In addition the Act has powers to fine or imprison owners of animals so it is important that the requirements are met.  

There is legislation covering the health requirements for pet animals travelling between E.U. Member States or into the Community from third countries.  The E.C. Regulation allowed the UK to broadly retain its requirements for importation of dogs and cats from certain countries, (i.e. if certain requirements are meet they can be imported without the need for quarantine).  However, they go further to cover import requirements for other species including ferrets, rabbits and rodents.   

Under the Regulations dogs and cats can be imported into the UK from Member States and listed third countries provided they have been micro-chipped, vaccinated and blood tested. These animals must wait at least six months after the blood sample was taken before they are able to enter the UK without quarantine and must be treated against ticks and tapeworms 24-48 hours before being imported.   

Ferrets can enter the UK from Member States provided they are micro-chipped, vaccinated against rabies and treated against ticks and tapeworms. Ferrets from listed third countries must wait at least six months following rabies vaccination before they are able to enter the UK without quarantine. 

Pet rodents, rabbits, birds, invertebrates (but not bees and crustaceans) ornamental tropical fish, amphibia and reptiles can enter the UK from other Member States and some other European countries without meeting any rabies requirements. 

Rabbits and rodents from all other third countries are still required to undergo 6 months quarantine on arrival in the UK 

Detailed information can be obtained from DEFRA but the procedure is as follows (links open in a new window):

  • Reserve accommodation at an approved premise 
  • Reserve an authorised carrying agent to take the animal from the point of entry into the UK to the premises
  • Check that the port/airport of entry is approved 
  • Complete the application form and send it to DEFRA   
  • DEFRA sends an import license to the carrying agent.
  • DEFRA sends a 'boarding document' to you or your agent confirming the license and acting as evidence that importing your pet has been approved.
  • Arrange for your pet to be transported, obeying the regulations (different for sea and air) about crating, labelling etc

You are advised to visit the premises and book your pet in early, as kennels and catteries are very popular. You can talk to other pet owners and see which premises they recommend or talk to other experts such as vets and breeders. You should agree all costs in advance and make sure that they cover all possible eventualities. DEFRA  can provide a list of quarantine kennels/catteries.