Moving abroad – how to take your pet to live abroad with you.

For many, the thought of moving overseas without their much-loved pet would be unthinkable. Yet sometimes, taking your pet with you is far from easy. It’s worth noting that the regulations may vary hugely from one destination country to another but here are a few ideas relating to things you might want to consider.

Research your destination thoroughly

You might have to accept the reality that, in the case of some destinations, taking your pet with you is simply going to be a non-starter.  The situation will vary depending upon where you were talking about and possibly the nature of the animal concerned.  Some countries may not permit any importations whereas others may permit certain species but not all.

There is no real alternative but to contact the UK embassy of the country you are planning to move to and to get advice on the specifics of your particular situation. It might be advisable not to place too much weight on what other expats in the country concerned tell you.  Regulations are subject to regular change and there may be no obvious reason to believe that someone living in the country will necessarily be an expert on current animal importation regulations – anymore than you may be on today’s animal importation laws for the United Kingdom.

The European Union

Broadly speaking, the big issue within the European Union is the drive to eliminate or at least stop the spread of, rabies. It’s worth being clear that rabies is usually a fatal disease once the symptoms have developed and animal controls are taken exceptionally seriously by most countries.  So, take the rules and regulations seriously and do not, under any circumstances, attempt to break or work around them.  The penalties for you may be severe if you are caught and such action would be highly irresponsible anyway.

As many EU countries share land borders with other countries, in some cases their regulations may be rather more relaxed than those of the UK but even so, make the effort to find out the specifics. In terms of generalities, there is now an EU “Pet Passport” scheme which effectively microchips an identity for your pet under their skin and which records that they’ve had appropriate rabies inoculations or other treatments, as required by general European law. Do remember though that there are differences in the way this passport scheme is interpreted and administered within the European Union, so don’t consider it an alternative to making specific enquiries about the country you are planning to go to.


Many countries around the world operate a quarantine system for pets being brought into the country.  As the name suggests, this typically involves your pet being put into isolation for a period of some weeks or months, depending upon the individual laws and what diseases (incubation period) the authorities are trying to guard against. Approved quarantine centres will typically be well publicised by the immigration authorities of the country and it goes without saying, they are likely to be expensive.

Returning to the United Kingdom

Although most expats don’t like to think about coming back to the UK, it might happen. Before leaving the country with your pet, you should therefore make sure you understand the re-entry requirements and ensure that your pet’s vaccinations are kept fully up to date in wherever you will be living in the interim. Make sure also that you budget accordingly, as quarantine, when required, is no cheaper in the UK than anywhere else and in fact, it may be more expensive than in many other countries.