Association of Port Health Authorities

Rabies and Pets

All Rabies susceptible animals entering the United Kingdom are subject to controls to prevent the potential importation of Rabies and certain other animal diseases. Masters of commercial cargo ships and small yachts, boats and pleasure craft arriving in UK ports from foreign ports must report the presence of any animal on board to both the Port Health Authority and HM Revenue and Customs. Pets imported are subject to 6 months at the owners expense in quarantine at an establishment approved for this purpose by Defra. These controls are contained in the Rabies (Importation of Dogs, Cats and Other Mammals) Order 1974 (as amended).

EU Regulation dealing with the movement of pet animals also covers birds (except certain poultry), ornamental tropical fish, invertebrates (except bees and crustaceans), amphibians and reptiles. The rules for the movement of these species between EU countries, and into the EU, have not yet been set by the European Commission. To bring these animals into the UK they must meet either national import rules or the general rules for trade in the animal species

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) is enforced by HM Revenue & Customs at UK Ports and deals with the illegal importation of endangered wildlife products, e.g. unworked ivory, ivory carvings, reptile handbags, etc.

Pet animals such as dogs including guide and hearing dogs, cats and ferrets benefit from the Pet Travel Scheme (PETS) which allows such pet animals from certain countries to enter the UK without quarantine, as long as they meet the rules. In simple terms this means that in addition to other EU Nationals being allowed to bring their pets into the United Kingdom, UK Nationals may take their dogs, cats and ferrets to other European Union (EU) countries, and return with them to the UK. They can also, having taken their dogs, cats and ferrets to certain non-EU countries, bring them back to the UK without the need for quarantine.

To comply with the provisions of PETS owners must have their pet animal micro chipped to enable it to be properly identified, vaccinated against Rabies, blood tested to ensure that the vaccine has been effective and obtain a European Union Pet Passport from the approved Veterinary Surgeon dealing with the animal. Prior to returning to the UK pet animals must be treated against ticks and tapeworm not less than 24 hours and not more than 48 hours before check-in and verification at the approved transport company (PETS documentation and microchip reading will be carried out. When travelling by sea a pet animal must be crated prior to landing and be landed by an approved carrying agent.

It must be noted that, with the exception of travel from and to the Republic of Ireland, privately owned pleasure craft and aeroplanes cannot be used to import pet animals even when in compliance with the relevant PETS requirements. Pet animals imported in this way will be subject to the full quarantine procedure.

More information
Details of approved quarantine premises:

Full list of approved transport companies and approved routes:
or the Pet Travel Scheme Helpline: +44 (0)870 241 1710 (Monday to Friday - 8.30am to 5pm UK time).

Rabies (Importation of Dogs, Cats and Other Mammals) Order 1974 (as amended).
Northern Ireland

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