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Travelling with pets

Regulations regarding the carriage of animals are complex and vary from country to country and airline to airline. You are advised to contact the authorities in the destination country, as well as seeking advice from your airline or a specialist pet travel agency, before planning your journey.


Airlines will only carry animals if arrangements have been made in advance, as space is often limited. There are two options and your airline will be able to tell you which services they are able to offer:

  • Accompanied baggage – most airlines will accept animals as accompanied baggage providing they are in a suitable container. They will travel in the baggage compartment where a suitable environment can be maintained (note: animals arriving in the UK may only do so as manifested air cargo).
  • Air cargo – owners can arrange for their animals to travel as air cargo without making the journey themselves.

Taking pets out of the UK

You must comply with the requirements of the destination country. Some will only require an export health certificate, some will need proof of vaccination and others will require you to obtain an import permit. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) operates an export helpline on +44 (0)20 7904 6347 or Fax +44 (0)20 7904 6395.

Arrival into the UK

Except for dogs and cats from specific countries that can comply with the requirements of the Pet Travel Scheme, all pets will be required to undergo a period of quarantine. Arrangements must be made and confirmed before the journey commences.

Extrordinair Animal Reception Centre

Edinburgh-based freight forwarding company Extrordinair operate the Border Inspection Post at Edinburgh Airport. The Border Inspection Post gives owners of dogs, cats or ferrets under the EU Pet Travel Scheme the option of touching down in the Scottish capital.

The Border Inspection Post has been designed to meet the needs of pets of varying sizes. Fresh water and dry food will be provided and your pet will have access to a secure exercise area. This facility aims to reunite passengers with their pets within 3 hours of arrival.

For more information or queries regarding travelling with your pet, please visit the Extrordinair website or contact them directly by Phone on +44(0) 131 317 7277, or email

Pet Travel Scheme (PETS)

Dogs and cats are now able to travel from a number of countries to the UK without the need to undergo six months' quarantine provided they meet certain requirements. Only carriers approved by Defra may carry animals into the UK on specific routes.

To be considered for entry under the Pet Travel Scheme, a pet will have to meet the conditions which can be found on the Defra website.


It is important that, in addition to the health and documentation requirements, your animal travels in a suitable container which must be well ventilated and large enough that the animal can stand up, lie down and turn around freely. No part of the animal is allowed to protrude from the carrier and it should be secure and leakproof. Airlines and specialist agents should be able to advise you on obtaining such a container. Sedation is not recommended as the effects of the drugs and altitude are not predictable.

Assistance dogs

Guide and hearing dogs qualify for the scheme and must meet the same requirements. Some airlines permit them to travel in the cabin.

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