Leaving behind family and friends to undertake an international move to America may be heart rending and emotional but how many of us could say goodbye to pets? Pets are often regarded as family members and most families wouldn’t contemplate moving without them. But this is not a move down the street or into another part of town, this is a move to America and this article aims to provide you with the essentials you need to know on animal transport to the USA and how to ship your pet from the UK to America.
Animal Transport Laws in US
Luckily the laws regarding the transport of domestic pets have been relaxed a little for both America and Canada, meaning that the process is now fairly straightforward. For animals entering the US from the UK there is no quarantine period and a PETS passport is not necessary, although it is recommended just to make the process smoother and hassle-free. A rabies vaccination is not necessary either as the UK has maintained its rabies-free stance but you may decide to get one anyway, just in case and again, just to prevent any delays or hassle. As a general rule, there are no restrictions on bringing domestic cats into the United States, for dogs please note you should ensure that your dog is at least 6 months old and has been microchipped to ISPO standards.
As your pet is travelling outside of the EU you will need to get an EHC (Export Health Certificate) which replaces the previous Fit to Fly certificate and will be required by all airlines before accepting your pet on the aircraft. This EHC certificate checks that your pet meets the health requirements for travel to the USA.
Your EHC certificate must be certified by an OV (Official Veterinarian) and will include all vaccinations, micro-chip details, shippers details and include a statement of general health. The OV will be responsible for checking that your pet meets the correct health and identification requirements before you travel.
The UK Government has a full list of OV’s who can assist in the process of obtaining an EHC in order to transport your pet to the USA. We firstly recommend you speak to your own VET for assistance, or you can check the Government website for a full list of registered and approved OV’s who can help you with the process of applying for an EHC and getting it certified for your pet to fly.
The US laws listed here largely cover domestic pets such as dogs and cats. If you wish to import other animals to the US then you will need to carefully read their animal import guide on the APHIS website.
Many specialist pet airlines will handle the whole process for you including any travel documentation that you might need. They will communicate with the major airlines to book your pet onto the most suitable flight and will ensure that the crate and bedding meets strict custom regulations. They will also collect and drop off your pet. As with any service though, you do pay for the privilege. Costs vary depending on the package you’ve chosen and the size of the pet but don’t be surprised by a quote that is over £1,000. It’s always best to compare quotes and only choose recommended pet airlines where you can. Try PetAir UK or Airpets.
Alternatively, you could book your pet in yourself. Most international flights such as British Airways will take pets (low-cost airlines don’t offer this service) and costs start from around £350 + extras. It may be possible for small dogs and cats to be classed as check-in baggage and to travel in the cabin. KLM and Lufthansa both offer this service.
Update. The UK is NOT on the list of high-risk countries and is not affected by the July 14th 2021 decision to suspend the entry of dogs into the United States from countries which are deemed have a high risk of rabies. You can visit the CDC website for more information here.