Moving to a new country is always a big undertaking, no matter how used to travelling you are, and bringing your pets with you adds even more to think about. But providing you prepare well in advance and do plenty of research, you should settle in to London life nicely as so many others have done before you.
When bringing a pet into London there are several important formalities you have to go through. Before going into these in some depth it is worth looking at London living as a whole.
London – Entry Requirements
Before deciding on London as your new home, you must be clear on the entry requirements. If you are from an EU country this is easy since you are automatically free to work and live in London and anywhere else in the UK. However, if you are not from an EU country you will need to apply for a visa. The UK government have a section of their website dedicated to visas and immigration so this is the best place to look if you have any queries. There are lots of different visas, permits and cards available depending on your circumstances, including long-term visas (six months stay plu), short-term visas, UK Ancestry visas, EEA permits and residential cards.
Knowing your New City
The best way to think of London is as a city made up of lots of little cities – known as boroughs. There are 33 boroughs of London.
Of course, there is far more to learn about the UK’s capital than its geography, and what you need to research will depend on your reasons for moving. If you are working in London, you might want to find out about taxation by visiting the tax office (HMRC) website, and if you have children, the education system will be important to you. Unless you apply for a private school place, your children will probably have to attend a school nearby as you will need to be in its ‘catchment area’. The Schools Web Directory will help you find your nearest schools .
Travelling in London
Public transport in London is generally very good, if expensive. Buses and the London Underground (or ‘Tube’) are popular modes of getting around. Driving is not so great and you can expect to be spending a lot of time in traffic. You will also have to pay the Congestion Charge of £10 per day.
Bringing your Pets into London
The English are known as a nation of pet lovers but that does not mean you can just turn up in London with your dog or cat in tow. However, if you carefully follow the guidance below you should soon be enjoying your pet’s company in your new London home.
The rules below apply only to dogs, cats and ferrets. Most other animals can be freely brought into the country, but it is wise to check with your vet first just in case your pet’s species happens to be one of the exceptions. One notable exception applies to rabbits and rodents from non-listed non-EU countries. These animals require a compulsory four month quarantine.
If you are bringing a dog into London, check it is not on the banned breeds list first.
Pet Passports and Third Country Approved Veterinary Certificates
If you are from an EU country, you will need to ask your vet for a Pet Passport. To save potential problems with your carrier, ask the vet to fill in Section IX.
If you are from a non-EU country, you will need to obtain a Third Country Approved Veterinary Certificate. In this case, you will also be required to carry supporting documents with you; these will be specified on the Certificate so read everything carefully.
Your pet will need to be microchipped unless it was tattooed before 3rd July 2011. The microchip number will need to be entered on to the Pet Passport or Third Country Approved Veterinary Certificate. If tattooed, the ID number must be legible and the tattoo must have been applied after a rabies vaccination. A vet should have recorded the dates of both the tattoo and the vaccination along with the ID number.
Microchips to ISO standard will be scanned by the relevant transport companies but if your microchip does not conform to this standard, you will have to bring your own microchip reader.
You should only get your pet vaccinated for rabies after it has been microchipped, otherwise the vaccination will need to be repeated. For travellers from EU or non-EU Listed countries, you have to wait 21 days after the vaccination before you can travel into the UK. After this waiting period you are free to move in and out of the UK with no further tests providing you keep up to date with the boosters.
If you are from a non-Listed country you will need to start the procedure well before you intend to travel. After the rabies vaccination you will have to wait 30 days before a blood test and then a further three calendar months before you can actually travel.
Tapeworm Treatment (dogs only)
Dogs need to be treated for tapeworm every time they come into the UK between one and five days before arrival. The treating vet has to record the name of the drug used (of which praziqualtel or an equivalent must be the active ingredient), the manufacturer and the date and time of treatment. They will then need to stamp and sign the documentation. Travellers from Finland, Norway, Ireland and Malta do not need to treat for tapeworm.
Before you leave for London, one final important call you need to make is to the carrier you will be using to transport you. Only AHVLA authorised carriers can bring pets into the country and they may require extra documentation including a signed declaration from your vet. If you have a Pet Passport, there is a section set aside for this purpose (section IX).