Travelling With Pets To The UK

Gaspar the traveller
Gaspar the traveller

Moving your pet to another country can be challenging and heartbreaking, but the idea of leaving your friend behind is way more terrifying.

We had to make a move to London, UK from Lisbon, Portugal. There were no doubts – our cat was going with us, no matter what. We thought it would be a financially reasonable and a relatively smooth trip. If you want to make God laugh… We learnt on our mistakes and happy to share a recipe to an easier travelling to the UK with your pet.

As we figured later on, England is the most expensive and the strictest (let’s call it that way to avoid the word problematic) country to bring your friend in. Only Australia can compete with it.

Start getting ready at least three months in advance. Make an appointment with your vet and make sure your animal is microchipped, vaccinated against rabies and treated against parasites. It’s very important you do it beforehand, because animal would have to wait around 21 days for the vaccine to settle.

Pet travelling passport
Pet travelling passport

Since January 2015 a new passport version was introduced. It should have nine digits, an additional page for vaccine serial number protection and personal details of your vet. Most likely an animal courier company would require a new passport.

Next step is finding a courier. All the airline companies, except British Airways, have got embargo on animal transportation to the UK. Truly speaking, it’s a disgusting monopoly, but rules are rules. British Airways works with a couple of trusted animal couriers who take care of all the paperwork. You’ll be surprised when you hear the price. We paid 879 euros. Don’t blame it on couriers – they go through so much trouble to receive less than 100 euros. The biggest piece of pie goes to the Animal Scheme in the UK. They will inform you about all the procedures, updates and rules. Do not forget to contact them as soon as possible, at least 1-2 months in advance.

Carrier
Carrier

Your courier company screens the necessary paperwork, gives advices and receives permission from Boarder Police to travel with your pet. It takes time. We would advice you not to buy an animal carrier by yourself. It should be very specific, and the UK side is very picky about it. Your courier will provide you with the most appropriate one for the same price you’d buy it in a store. It is very well equipped, spacious and safe for your friend to travel. Leave this trouble to professionals.

Our courier was absolutely fantastic. Here are the contacts if you are travelling from Portugal: Adriano Malveiro adriano.malveiro@intercourier.pt

Intercourier Lda.
Rua Professor Henrique de Barros, Lote 2 Armazém 7
2685-338 Prior Velho
Portugal
www.intercourier.pt
Ph: +351 219 498 190
Fax: +351 219 498 199
Cell: +351 966 222 245

Make a new passport, get your pet vaccinated, microchipped and treated against parasites; scan the passport with all the details in it and send it over to your courier company together with your ID. When everything is cleared, settle a date of travelling and make sure you take the same flight as your pet, even though he’ll go in a separate cargo department. The best way is to fly with BA – at least you’ll arrive to the UK with your pet at the same time. You should schedule an appointment with your vet two days before the flight to check if the microchip is functioning and to eliminate parasites once more.

Do not feed your pet before the flight – last food intake should be the night before (latest possible). You can grab its favourite toys, blanket and Feliway wet towels to sooth his travelling. No matter what sources you use to inform yourself, do not give any tranquillisers or sleeping pills to your pet – they may harm it. Our cat is one of the most stressed kinds, but he was able to pass through the travelling without medication. Your courier company will supply the carrier with water.   As soon as you are at the airport in London, drink a cup of coffee, relax and move towards Terminal 4 – this is where the Animal Centre is located. You’ll probably have to wait for a couple of hours before you reunite with your friend.

I have to say, this is not the most pleasant experience for neither the pets nor the owners. Stress level is huge. It is not cheap. Recuperation may take up to one week. Our boy had his nose all bleeding and scratched up, while trying to escape the cage from airplane pressure. He was hiding under the bed for a couple of days. But it is all behind: wounds are healed, trust in people is recuperated, curiosity is resurrected and appetite is back. There is nothing compared to the feeling that you did not leave your friend behind and he purrs every morning next to your ear and happily climbs the stairs of a new home.