How We Moved Our Dogs From the US to the UK

Hi friends! Last week, most of you saw that we welcomed Fish and Chips to the UK, which was four looong months after I moved here. This was, of course, because of Covid and a few other minor details that I explained in THIS YouTube video. If you’ve followed me since 2016, you may remember my 6-month stint in London and that Fish came along with me. Since then, I have gotten questions about how to move your dog from the US to the UK and always kicked myself for never putting a blog post about it together because, if I’m honest, the answer isn’t exactly a simple. There’s a lot to it. So, this time around, I thought I’d go ahead and knock it out being that life is a little slower these days and the information is fresh.

Before I get into the nitty gritty, I thought I’d [naturally] share a little disclaimer. Please keep in mind that I’m sharing my lived experience and that might look different than yours and, therefore, might alter what is required for your pets’ travel. Also, as time goes on, government requirements for pet entry into the UK may change so it’s extremely important to NOT use this post as the basis for ALL decisions you make while planning. This post is meant to serve as a helpful starting point as well as a bit of encouragement that it will be okay as I know how stressful this experience is. It is also not all encompassing. There could be more information out there that may suit / be helpful for your particular situation that this blog post does not cover. Below, you will find a short list of the most helpful government websites that you should be giving the most weight to:

DEFRA [Department of Environment Food & Rural Affairs]: This is the UK version of the USDA.

APHIS [Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services] – This is an agency within the USDA that helped me tremendously.

One last thing, the regulations outlined below pertain to dogs, cats, and ferrets and is referred to as the Pet Travel Scheme. If you’re wanting to import other animals, head HERE for guidance.

Okay, now let’s get started!

Helpful Tidbits Regarding …


Dogs, cats and ferrets largely come into the England, Scotland, and Wales via air cargo. On international flights, most airlines coming into the UK do not allow animals in the cabin no matter their weight and, therefore, must travel as manifest cargo. However, assistance and guide dogs are an exception to this and you can find all you need to know about that HERE.

• Approved routes for airlines and airports [commercial and private] your pet can come in on is HERE

• Approved routes by sea and rail for your pet to come in on is HERE is the approved routes by sea and rail.

Traveling to Ireland? More info HERE.

Have an emotional support dog? I do know that you can somehow import your animal in the cabin with the declaration of your dog being an emotional support dog, which is different than an assistance and guide dog. However, I am not seeing ANYTHING about that on DEFRA’s website and since I have never traveled with either of the boys under this distinction [because neither are emotional support dogs], I can sadly provide no guidance on how to do this. You may want to do a little digging on Google but, I’m sticking to what I can find on government websites in this post.


The U.S. is considered a ‘listed’ country and, therefore, has certain requirements that are slightly different than unlisted and EU countries. The requirements for entry into the UK for your pet coming from the US:

•.RABIES VACCINATION: Pet must be 12 weeks old prior to administration of the Rabies vaccine and they must wait 21 days from vaccination to travel. The day of vaccination is counted as day 0. Their Rabies certificate needs to accompany the health certificate. Make sure it includes their microchip number. The UK prefers to see a 1-year Rabies vaccine versus the 3-year booster. The boys needed their Rabies in March so we gave them the 1-year but Fish has traveled with the 3-year prior to that, I believe, and there wasn’t an issue. More information on the Rabies vaccine requirements HERE.

MICROCHIP: Pet must receive a 15-digit microchip and must be implanted BEFORE the Rabies vaccination has been given.

TAPEWORM TREATMENT: The treatment must have been given no less than 24 hours and no more than 120 hours (5 days) before you enter the UK. Your dog can be refused entry or put into quarantine if you do not follow this rule. It must contain praziquantel or an equivalent proven to be effective against the Echinococcus multilocularis tapeworm. Make sure your vet stamps the tapeworm treatment page.

THIRD-COUNTRY OFFICIAL VETERINARY CERTIFICATE: This is also referred to as the ‘health certificate’.  There are two types outlined below.

• You must arrive in the UK no more than 5 days before or after your pet. If not, you’ll need to use a specific health certificate. You can elect a designated person to travel with the pet but it needs to be authorized in writing. On DEFRA’s website, it also states that, if you are not traveling with your pet, you will need to confirm you will not be reselling the animal, however, I will admit … I did not catch that before the boys’ traveled and no one made a fuss about it. It couldn’t hurt to include it, though. I’ll link that HERE.


In order to prove that your pet complies with the above requirements, you will need to have your veterinarian fill out a health certificate. There are two types of health certificates:

ANNEX IV: This is required if you or a designated person is traveling within five days of your pet’s travel date.

ANNEX I [commercial]: This is required if you or a designated person is not traveling with your pet.

Once it is filled out, it will need to taken to a USDA office for an Accredited Veterinarian to endorse it. They will sign it and stamp it. To find your local USDA office, head here.

It is worth noting here that the U.K. [England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Wales] allows your health certificate to be filled out by your veterinarian electronically [through the VECHS portal] and sent to the USDA to be endorsed. However, the Veterinary Medical Officer’s at the USDA, who review and endorse the health certificates, are NOT allowed to do so digitally. They will need to physically print the health certificate, ensure everything is correct, sign it with wet ink and stamp it with an embossed seal.

Typically, when there isn’t a global pandemic going on, you would just make an appointment at the USDA, bring your paperwork to be endorsed, and then leave with your paperwork and be done with it. However, our local USDA office was closed for appointments and walk-in’s due to COVID so, you will need to electronically send everything over to them with a pre-paid shipping label so that they can mail you the packet back.

Have a pet passport? Sadly, the UK does not accept pet passports for entry of your pet into the UK from the US. More information HERE.

REMEMBER: Airlines may require additional paperwork on top of the government documents. Once you book your pets’ flight, the person confirming your booking and providing their airway bill number should also provide you with those document requirements.


The first step in this whole process is requesting your dogs’ vaccination record from the vet so you can look it over. I’d do this two or three months prior to the move [if you have that much time] so that you can take a look at their last Rabies injection date. I would read everything HERE and HERE [scroll down to where it says “The following information applies in the United Kingdom:” >> click on Dogs, Cats & Ferrets >> click on Step 2: Rabies Vaccination] to make sure you have everything covered. If your dog needs a microchip, make sure you get that done BEFORE you update the Rabies vaccination.

Once you’ve ensured their vaccines are up to scratch, you’ll need to select a date for their health certificate to be filled out. You’ll need to do this within the time guidelines based on the health certificate you need for your particular situation. Most of the time, if you’re flying with your pet, everything has to be done and signed by the USDA within five days of travel but, if they’re flying as commercial pets, it all has to be done within a very short 48-hour time window. I would speak with your cargo agent when booking your tickets about this to ensure you get this right. If they don’t make you feel confident, the BEST place to go with questions is APHIS. Email them and they will certainly help you. This could always change with time so be sure to go by what you see on their website versus what I’m telling you here, especially if you’re reading this years after the post has been written!

But, I thought it might be helpful for me to share the checklist I went by on the day the boys’ went to get their health certificates:

• Ensure microchip number is on all pertinent paperwork outside of health certificate [fit-to-fly letter and Rabies certificate]

• Make sure the microchip is scanned to ensure it still scans properly

• Ensure the health certificate is the correct type [annex I or annex IV]

• Ensure the health certificate has been completed correctly [my vet sent it to the USDA to have them look it over and let her know if anything needed to be changed before she signed it and completely sent it through to be signed by the USDA through VECHS; I realize that might not be the case for your vet so I would just make sure you look it over if they’re filling it out manually against a red-lined version that you can find on APHIS’ website]

• Rabies certificate needs to accompany the health certificate + microchip number on it

• Bring a fit-to-fly letter with you as the airline requires it from the vet [sometimes the airline will supply you with one but I drafted my own based on one I had gotten from Virgin Atlantic; happy to send along to you … simply request it via email]

• Ensure your animal receives their tapeworm treatment [they should as it all has to be documented on the health certificate anyway]


Somewhere between the first vet visit and the health certificate vet visit, you’ll need to choose an airline for your pet to fly on. This brings about a whole other set of questions, doesn’t it?

Airlines flying into the UK are the biggest reason why pets have to come in via cargo, even if they’re little. Most airlines don’t allow pets in the cabin as you can see from this list. BUT … there are so many airlines who have so wonderful with their pet travel services and realize that pets flying in cargo is a stressful undertaking for both you and your pet. Something you need to remember is that pets fly underneath planes every single day, all over the world. The pet travel industry is HIGHLY regulated, especially international. It is scary but, I promise, the people who work in the pet travel industry and on the pet travel side of airlines are people who [99.9% of the time] are doing everything they can to ensure they get this right for you and your pet.

Now, I wouldn’t say I know much about which airlines are best but I was extremely impressed with Virgin Atlantic when Fish flew with them via cargo in 2016. They were SO organized and so friendly upon check-in. The boys’ flew British Airways this time, as Virgin Atlantic’s international pet travel services were closed due to Covid, and they weren’t AS good as Virgin, in my opinion, but I do believe they were well taken care of. Stacy, my assistant who drove the boys down to their flight in Miami with her husband, said everyone was so friendly at check-in and ooo-ing and ah-ing over the boys as well as very organized so that was good. BA lost a few points mainly because our main point of contact leading up to the flight always responded very tersely to us [which, I totally understand she probably has a very busy job] and [potentially] misinformed us on our timeline when I was unsure if we were going to be outside of 48-hour time window or not. [I shared this whole story in an IG story highlight on my profile titled ‘BOYS TRAVEL] When we asked APHIS, after she told us we would be fine, we were told we definitely would have had an issue if we had not caught this ahead of time. And, you know … maybe it would have been fine. Maybe she was saying that because she really thought it would be. Maybe she has backend information that they’re not AS strict on that timeline as it seems like they are BUT … what if, you know? That would have been a huge blow if she had been wrong and Stacy & her husband drove the boys all the way to Miami the day of their flight and then had been told we botched the timeline when we were told we would be fine. So, that wasn’t impressive to me but everything else she was on top of and they made it safely so, really, I can’t fault them more than that.

In my experience, and from what I’ve heard and seen from Instagram accounts I follow with dogs who travel internationally a lot, I’ve heard that Virgin, British Airways, Lufthansa, and Air France are all amazing in regard to pet travel. Please let us know in the comments below if you’d like to add yours in, as well. Lufthansa flies large animals all over the world so, I’ve actually heard they are the best but, that wasn’t an option for us but I hope that is helpful to someone.


Once you book your pups flight through the airlines’ cargo office, they will supply you with LOTS of information including very specific information about the travel kennel’s you must purchase before their flight. The boys traveled in THIS one [they each got one; for safety reasons, animals must travel in their own kennels] that comes in multiple sizes. You will need to measure your dog based on the instructions the airline will give you. It’s super easy to do using one of THESE.

HOT TIP: Get the kennel as soon as you can and try to get your dog to get accustomed to being in it. Fish has always loved his kennel and my dogsitter simply replaced the normal kennel with this one and she’d sometimes find him in there because he felt safe in there. The safer and more comfortable they feel before the flight, the better they’ll feel during it.

For travel kennel supplies, we used THESE water bottles and THIS water bowl right below it. I was worried the boys wouldn’t understand how to use the dispensers so that way they had access to the water that would inevitably drip out of the water dispenser on the door. Grab a small-ish pet blanket or mat to put inside [they can’t have excess in there for safety so make sure it’s plush but not massive]. They also HAVE to have an absorbant puppy pad at the bottom of it for if and when they soil. They’re not supposed to receive any medications for anxiety, so I’d put a little bit of lavender essential oil on the blanket and maybe throw one of your recently worn t-shirts so they have something that smells familiar to them close during travel. Lavender essential oil is safe for dogs but is strong so I’d put a few drops in with some water in a spray bottle so that it’s a little diluted.


This is a rough list of things that you will pay for and an estimate of my total cost for TWO dogs.

You’ll pay for vet visits [potentially multiple: one for vaccine update & one for health certificate and fit-to-fly exam and letter], travel kennel(s), travel kennel accessories [water bottle to attach to door, small blanket for comfort, puppy pad], airfare [based on weight and other miscellaneous charges for the airline], the USDA health certificate charge [paid to the USDA when they check your paperwork] and customs clearing agency charges upon arrival into the UK.

I did a rough total of our overall cost of all of these things and it came out to a little over $3200. Keep in mind that’s for TWO dogs. I realize that that’s still a very pretty penny but I never said this was a cheap venture. What I didn’t pay when I got them [as they were free rescues], I surely made up for in international travel fees, ha!

Other Things Worth Noting + A Few Tips

• Start at least two months before travel. Take a look at your pets’ vaccinations, first and foremost, and make an appointment with your vet to get anything that is required updated as soon as possible. Remember: if they need their Rabies shot or booster, they have to wait 21 days to travel.

• There is a list of banned dogs that are not allowed into the UK that you should be aware of before making plans.

• Choose a veterinarian who is comfortable with health certificates. The boys have always seen the same vet. I used to work at this vet’s office when I was finishing up nursing school and I literally trust him with everything, except health certificates. He likes to focus on helping the pet’s with what they need for their health and, being that health certificate requirements are different for every country and are always changing, I can completely understand how they can be seen as a bit of a bother. The truth is, you need a vet who will work closely with their tech to get a lot of the information for the certificate ahead of time so that the day of their health certificate appointment is a breeze! I worked with Dr. Kelley Batten, who you can find at Atlantic East Animal Clinic in Atlantic Beach, Florida. I’ve known her for years and she does health certificates all the time! She will make it way less stressful, I promise!

• If you’d like the fit-to-fly letter I drafted, which is based on the one Virgin Atlantic gives their pet parents for travel, email me.

• Make sure the vet scans the microchip on your pet [on the day of their health certificate appointment] to ensure it DOES come up.

• On the day of travel, try and keep your pup up and awake. Take them on quite a few walks so that they are tired for their flight that evening. They may be a little stressed but if they’re tired, they can easily sleep through it.

• Being that I wasn’t on the boys’ flight with them, I worried about the pilot’s flipping whatever that ‘switch’ is that needs to be flipped when they have pets in cargo. That is basically a switch that turns on the heat and air conditioning in the cargo hold. It’s always pressurized. One of my sweet readers reached out to me the day before the boys’ flight letting me know that her husband is a pilot. She said ‘there are MULTIPLE pilots on board flying that big plane over the ocean and they are ALL checking the lists to ensure they don’t miss anything that’s on that plane so, rest assured, those boys will be completely fine under there’. It was so sweet and just the reminder I needed. You have to trust that this industry knows what it’s doing!

• Apply for your Transfer of Residency before your move. Once your application has processed, you will receive what’s called a ToR number and, whenever you ship anything that you’ve stated will be moved from your previous residence to the UK, you will use that ToR number in order to receive VAT [value added tax, which is a standard 20% here in the UK] relief. This is helpful in moving over dogs because you can put pets on the list of items that will NOT be taxed if you have a ToR number when they come in to the country. Any live animal that comes into the UK will need a value assigned to them by their owner and you will then pay the VAT of that price to the customs clearing agency that either you select or your airline selects for you. I had to do this with the boys because I have yet to apply for mine. If you don’t have this by the time your pets move, it’s okay … you can assign a value [which, I realize all of our pets are priceless but they just suggest you say £100 as that’s what most people do], pay the VAT and can have it reimbursed to you within a year if you provide the ToR at some point in that first year they are in the country.

There is probably more, if I’m honest, but I cannot think of anything else at the moment. There were tons of questions that came in about this and, in order to keep this post as short as possible, I thought I’d do a YouTube video to cover those so I’m going to tackle that next week and I’ll update this post with it when it’s done so everything is in one place! I hope this post was helpful. Please leave anything you learned from your pets’ international move that maybe I didn’t experience or forgot to mention in the comments below. KIND REQUEST: I just ask that you please do not promote making your dog an emotional support dog just because you’re nervous about them going In cargo. To each their own … if that’s what you want to do, then fine but I just ask that you don’t promote it on this blog post. I realize it’s stressful to have your very-much-loved pet go in the cargo hold. Believe me, I’ve experienced the stress but doing that has the potential of taking away an opportunity for an actual service dog [for someone who cannot get around day to day without them, not just emotionally] to be on your flight. I’m not throwing any judgement anyones’ way if that is something you’ve done and can, therefore, speak to but, I personally don’t support it [unless it’s actually legitimate] and would rather this not be a place of encouragement for it because I have been on quite a few flights where it’s clear people are abusing it. Thank you!

Thanks for stopping by, guys! xo.



  1. Madeleine wrote:

    This may not be relevant for most folks who read this blog post because it has to do with bringing a dog in a cabin, not in cargo, but since you mentioned AirFrance I’ll leave this here.

    We have flown with our French bulldog between the US and France several times now, always on AirFrance. The breed is not allowed in cargo because it is too risky for the health of the animal, therefore they must travel in the cabin. However, the animals traveling in the cabin must be under 8kg including the carrier, which for a Frenchie is basically impossible. They’re so dense lol! The agents on the AirFrance service line told us to mark her weight as 8kg even though with the carrier she is around 12kg, and we followed this advice every time we flew with her w/o issue. She’s comfortable in the carrier and absolutely loves traveling – it’s hilarious! As soon as she sees our suitcases she freaks out and runs to the door every 5 min!

    However, traveling on AirFrance within Europe turned out to be a different story. We went to Prague in Feb before Covid hit. On the way back to Paris, the agent weighed her, saw that she was over 8kg, and refused to let us board the plane. We had to rent a car and drive all the way back to Paris (around 12 hours, but we took much longer to eat, let the dog out, etc.)! It was a terrible experience and we are still seeking a refund 7 months later. Previously in Spain my husband had encountered an agent who saw the weight but then said that she was clearly comfortable in her regulation carrier and let her fly.

    I would highly discourage flying with an animal on AirFrance unless you meet all their criteria to the letter. Even though they told us to break the rules, later on we paid (a lot) when someone decided to enforce them.

    Sorry to be whiny but it really was an awful experience, and I’m so frustrated at how airlines are not friendly to certain breeds. The weight requirement effectively bans the breed, because a Frenchie wouldn’t weigh less than 8kg unless it’s a puppy, and puppies aren’t allowed to fly either. Sometimes we have to travel with her for various reasons and now this is an extra layer of stress that we’ll have to leave her behind now.

    Thanks for letting me bitch – this topic doesn’t come up very often. 🙂

    Oh and thanks for including your view on emotional support animals! We of course thought of doing that, because she truly does help my husband’s mental health, but we did not want to steal a spot from someone who truly can’t function w/o their dog. I agree with your thoughts on the matter.

    Published 7.24.20 · Reply
    • AlysonHaley wrote:

      Thank you for sharing your experience and I’m sorry to hear it was far from ideal that one time earlier this year. There is an Instagram couple who have three Jack Russell’s and a large Golden, who are originally from France, and live in Miami. They fly all the time with their pups and always always speak so highly of AirFrance so, like you said, just make sure you fit all of the criteria. And, I really feel for you and fellow squish-face-baby-mama’s because they are often not allowed to travel in cargo and I KNOW that has it’s own set of challenges and stress on top of everything else. Big hugs to you, and thanks again for sharing! xo.

      Published 7.24.20 ·
  2. Alexis wrote:

    I don’t even have any pets, but I still am so glad you shared the boys’ story. I got emotional watching your story when you were reunited! xx

    Published 7.24.20 · Reply
    • AlysonHaley wrote:

      Aw thank you so much! xo.

      Published 7.25.20 ·
  3. Nicole wrote:

    WOW….no wonder this process was so stressful! The boys are lucky to have such a great mana who took care of all of this for them!!

    Published 7.26.20 · Reply
  4. Bernadett wrote:

    Emirates is one of the best for pet travel. They really go the extra mile in making sure your pet is good and safe. We have traveled with multiple airlines with our cat, Buffy in cargo and also on board. In most cases airline crew are always super helpful, but it can be very stressful trying to walk over the security gate with a cat in your arms, hoping she does not jump!
    We took Austrian Airlines into JFK and while they were good the booking process was very complicated and they were not so easy to get hold off. Emirates, even though paper work for Dubai was way worse then what you mentioned for the UK, from the side of Emirates everything went smoothly.
    I never thought many people travel with pets, until I started myself and have been noticing how many cats and dogs are actually on every flight!

    Published 1.3.21 · Reply
    • AlysonHaley wrote:

      I’ve heard amazing things about Emirates – as an airline in general but also in regard to pet travel! I’m not sure Emirates flies from the US to the UK – thinking maybe just to the UAE directly but I could be wrong and it’s good to know just in case that helps anyone who may be reading through the comments! Thanks for sharing! 🙂 xo.

      Published 1.4.21 ·
  5. Cary M wrote:

    Hey Alyson,

    Thanks so much for this post. We are moving back to the U.K. with our cats in July, and I’m absolutely terrified. The cats flew-in cabin with us on the way here, but I’m very nervous about flying with them in the hold. We are also flying BA and your post has helped me relax a little. We’ve hired a pet relocation company to help us, but I wondered if you have info about what the pet reception center is like at Heathrow?

    Published 5.27.21 · Reply
  6. Ellie wrote:

    This is SO helpful, thank you! I’m moving to Birmingham in August. My dog is my (legitimate) ESA and has been on several domestic flights with me, but all airlines have changed their rules and no longer permit ESA’s in the cabin. I was emailing back and forth with a relocation service, but they just gave me a nice $8,000 quote for my dog and my cat and I had a panic attack :)))

    My concern is the temperature restrictions. Was it under 85 degrees when your pets flew? I live in Texas, so there’s no way it’ll be under 85 in August.

    Published 6.1.21 · Reply
    • Sydney wrote:

      I’m having this same issue. Any relocation company I talk to says they’ll only fly out of Houston not DFW during summer months because of heat (Houston is hot too?), but I live just an hour from Dallas. Not sure what to do! Let me know if you find any helpful info on this as I’m trying to fly my cats to the UK 🙂

      Published 6.30.21 ·
    • AlysonHaley wrote:

      Hi Sydney! The temperature has never posed as an issue – the boys flew out of Miami [at night, though] last July and Fish flew out of Atlanta in July of 2016 [around 5pm so it was still hot]. Both of those cities are sweltering in the Summer so yeah, I hope that’s helpful! xx

      Published 7.1.21 ·
    • AlysonHaley wrote:

      Hi Ellie! Yeah, it’s pricey to use the relocation services. It’s a lot less if you do it all yourself, which is stressful but I’ve got lots of info here to help.

      Re: temperature: I flew with Fish out of Atlanta in August 2016 and it was certainly not under 85. Same with the boys flying last year out of Miami. So, I’m not sure why they have that as a requirement because, in my experience, they don’t follow it.

      Published 7.1.21 ·
  7. Lauren wrote:

    Thank you Alyson- for your informative post!
    We are flying to Manchester in August from PA. I had a quick question about the health certificate.
    We have an appointment with our vet the day before the flight so that our dog can have his worm treatment and health certificate completed- but we aren’t sure exactly how the USDA sign off works and if that leaves enough time to get the paperwork back? I think our vet will submit it to the USDA when completed electronically but how do you get the endorsement back? Thanks for any clarification!

    Published 6.27.21 · Reply
    • AlysonHaley wrote:

      Hi Lauren! If the paperwork is sent electronically, the USDA has to send you the paperwork back with a wet signature and the raised stamp so you’d likely not get it back in time if your flight is the next day. So, if the USDA office isn’t close to where you live, I would change the vet visit to be a few days before your flight and supply the USDA with expedited shipping labels to send your paperwork back before your flight.

      OR, you can call the USDA office it is being sent to and see if you can come and pick it up but you may have to wait if you go the same day. You can usually make an appointment. I didn’t have that option last year because of Covid so it just depends on whether they have changed their restrictions. Because the timeline is so tight, I personally liked the idea of going to the office and waiting for them to sign it so I have it in hand and I’m not stressing hoping nothing goes wrong with the mail service.

      Hope this helps! xx

      Published 7.1.21 ·
  8. Jessica wrote:

    This is really useful information! I’m planning on bringing my Australian Shepherds to the U.K. from Texas and will definitely use your post as a guideline. Thank you!

    Published 7.2.21 · Reply
    • AlysonHaley wrote:

      You’re welcome! xx

      Published 7.5.21 ·
  9. Stephanie Racioppi wrote:

    Hi! This article was beyond helpful!! We are moving to London from Chicago in March and am super nervous about the dogggo moving process. Would you be able to tell me about the pick up process? Was it difficult to claim your dogs again or how does that work? Thank you!!

    Published 7.27.21 · Reply
  10. liz wrote:

    I recently traveled on Delta with my son who has a neuromuscular disease and his service dog. We did the paper work through the vet USA to France, the fee was $400 dollars, the dog sits under our seat on the plane. We had no issue with Delta just two pieces of online paperwork to fill out prior to travel. Although my son has a service dog I have come upon issues where people do not understand a service dog. You are not obligated to show any paperwork by law, but I always carry the paperwork from where the dog was trained and a signed doctors note on my sons condition. It turns out that the South of France was not very obliging when it came to service dogs. Luckily I had this paperwork with me to show at every museum many restaurants, buses etc. The honest fact was that the paperwork was in English and I highly doubt it was understood, but It was looked at and examined and conferred upon with several people in each place even though you could see my sons condition with your eyes and the dog in his vest. I was told no many many times but I said yes and keep showing them the paperwork and made them get someone who understood. I am use to this but if you happen to be in France with service animal, be firm, show paperwork immediately upon entry and know the phrase chien d’assistance.

    Published 9.14.21 · Reply
  11. Linda wrote:

    Hi! Thank you SO much for putting this together, it’s been far more helpful than the USDA website! After the rabies shot did you then have to quarantine the boys in the U.K.? For some reason the USDA website reads to me like you have to quarantine them once you get there, leaving my dog for 21 days in a strange place sounds terrible! Hopefully that’s not the case.

    Published 12.11.21 · Reply
    • AlysonHaley wrote:

      Hi there! Well, you quarantine them until they have looked at their paperwork and provided you with authorization that everything looks good. They will then call you to come pick them up. I believe my boys landed around 8:30am and I picked them up around 6:00pm, which was much later than the first time I flew over with just Fish [because I didn’t have Chips at the time]. I believe I picked him up around 11:30AM and we had landed in the early morning so the wait was a lot shorter. Regardless, it’s not going to be days and days so don’t worry! xx

      Published 12.27.21 ·
  12. Soph wrote:

    Hello! Just planning my girls trip in March! She will not be flying with in 5 days of me so just trying to wrap my head around the 48 hour crunch! Quick question- did your friends hand all the original documents to IAG/British Airways Cargo at drop off and they then make sure it travels with the pet? I am just trying to understand the transfer of documents!

    Published 2.2.22 · Reply
    • AlysonHaley wrote:

      Yes they handed over all of the documents as they were the ones that put them all together. Because I was already in the States, I couldn’t do anything other than make sure they had all the documents that were needed. xx

      Published 2.12.22 ·
    • sophie wrote:

      Hi Thank you for the answer I have another question! Did your health certificate vet appointment check place at 48 hours or did it happen outside that window? I am trying to understand how I get her health inspection done and the document return so that 24 hours before the flight she will do the screwworm!

      Published 2.28.22 ·
    • AlysonHaley wrote:

      Hi Sophie, it’s been so long – I don’t remember exactly but I would assume yes because the timelines [and everything falling within the timelines outlined on the DEFRA website] is very important. My assistant had to do a lot of driving from different cities to ensure everything was timely. It is the frustrating aspect if you only have 48 hours and maybe don’t live in a major city.

      Published 3.11.22 ·
  13. Deborah wrote:

    If the paperwork has to be sent to the USDA office in NY (I live in NC) will it get back to me in time as the time s hedule for this seems to be pretty tight

    Published 8.3.22 · Reply
    • AlysonHaley wrote:

      There should be a closer one to you than NY. They have offices all over the country.

      Published 8.5.22 ·
  14. Michael Wolinski wrote:

    Thank you! Very informative.
    I get a little confused with “timelines” for different shots, etc. I’m inclined to use a professional pet shipping service, but perhaps they don’t reminders for different events before actually flying? Nothing seems very straightforward and the fear is always that you might hear, “but you don’t have……” when you reach your destination!

    Published 8.10.22 · Reply
  15. Karen Masters wrote:

    Thank you so very much for taking the time to write this blog.. it has answered all of my questions! I LOVE, LOVE. LOVE the emotional support disclaimer at the end. I fly domestically several times a year and see this privilege abused often.

    Published 8.30.22 · Reply
  16. Libby wrote:

    This is the most helpful post I have seen on this and I am too tired at 2 am to even read it all just now! I am planning a move that may never happen and I am so anxious about flying my pup over for so many reasons but in part because I am a terribly unorganized person! BUT I previously thought that I had to get him ANOTHER rabies shot even if he still had a year and a half on the three year (which I don’t plan to do again because both times we’ve had it he got so sick and this last time he had a huge, painful bump at injection site for two weeks that I don’t remember happening with the one yr!) Anyway! I don’t know what it was about the wording on others’ posts but you cleared that up for me which makes it feel EASIER than I had previously thought.

    Published 12.2.22 · Reply
    • AlysonHaley wrote:

      Hi Libby! So happy to hear that it is helpful. It was written a few years ago so be sure to check it against DEFRA and the USDA and the airline xx I know it’s a lot but you’ve got this!! xx

      Published 12.5.22 ·
  17. David Robinson wrote:

    Great information, Alyson. We were looking to take our Dachshund with us for 5 week vacation to England from our home in Florida. The costs you mention, the stress for owners and the dog have us leaning towards keeping them at home with someone we can trust to looks after them. As we are vacationing, we would also have to look for house rentals in place of hotels or B&B’s.
    I appreciate this in-depth review that obviously details a lot of work for a short 5 week trip unlike your more permanent move.

    Published 2.12.23 · Reply
  18. Lara wrote:


    Have been looking into relocation from Florida to the UK for work. I currently have 4 small dogs. Is it just unrealistic to move with 4 dogs there? Not sure how I would get a rental home. All of my dogs have to come with me.

    Thanks for your help.

    Published 9.5.23 · Reply
    • AlysonHaley wrote:

      Hi Lara! Landlords can refuse to allow pets in their rental homes but, we have found that landlords are usually pretty open to it if you have some sort of reference on your pets’ behavior. We had a previous landlord write a letter for us stating that our dogs didn’t damage his property during our tenancy. That helps. But, I would say that if you’re seeking to rent a place that a lot of people are submitting offers on, it would be difficult to be chosen if other potential tenants didn’t have dogs. There are a lot of factors at play but, generally speaking, it might be tough but not impossible. We haven’t had a terrible time finding places to rent that were open to pets. xx

      Published 9.6.23 ·
  19. Maddy wrote:

    Hi! Thank you so much for sharing this. I’m planning on moving my 18 pound Cavalier in September to the UK and am grappling with whether to fly him in cargo direct to the UK or go through France first. I have a feeling he is going to end up in cargo because he’s right on the cusp of being too big to fly in cabin to France and I don’t want to get turned away at the airport. Just wondering what your experience was with customs once you arrived at the airport and how quickly your pups got off the plane and back with you. Your post is super helpful and put some of my nerves at ease but I’m still stressing over it!

    Published 4.5.24 · Reply
    • AlysonHaley wrote:

      Hi Maddy! Hope all goes well with the move and your little one. It’ll all be fine but totally understand the anxiety. Fish and Chips arrived in the morning, around 8AM, and it actually felt like it took so much longer than a previous time I had moved with just Fish. I think we picked them up around 4pm. I think they just had a lot of flights and animals’ paperwork to go through that day but they both did well. I got a call a couple of times throughout the day giving me an update on how they were and stuff. The customs people are usually really kind. They understand it’s a hard thing for the owners so they try to be as quick as possible, while also being thorough.

      Published 4.8.24 ·
  20. Christina wrote:

    Super helpful! We are currently sorting out long trip back to Ireland – landing in Heathrow then driving him over to Ireland
    What an ordeal!
    Pet travel service is fabulous but doesn’t seem to know if we get our paper work back in Heathrow (we need rabies cert and tapeworm record to get EU health cert to get into Ireland)
    Talk about stressful!
    Ended up emailing Heathrow pet arrivals directly so I can stop panicking

    Published 4.10.24 · Reply