Pet Travel Question: Can My Pet Fly to the UK in the Cabin?

can my pet fly to the UK in cabin

Pet Travel gets many people who ask the same question: can my pet fly to the UK in the cabin with me?

The answer is, unfortunately, no. Due to regulations imposed by all commercial airlines approved to fly live animals to the United Kingdom, there is no way you can fly into the the UK with a pet animal in the cabin of the aircraft unless it is a service or emotional support dog.? Your airline must have a program in place to support ESA or service dogs. This is a requirement of all commercial airlines. It is not a requirement of APHA or DEFRA (Department for Environment, Food & Affairs).

In the case of emotional support or service dogs, pre-approval must be obtained from the Animal Reception Center in the airport you are flying into. Inspection of your dog must be arranged in advance. The same applies for animals arriving by private jet.

Why can’t a pet fly in the cabin to the United Kingdom?

There are several reasons. The first is that it is easier to track a pet that is flying as air cargo. All live animals flying as air cargo are included in a “manifest” and fly under an Air Waybill. The airline must provide arrival information to the Animal Reception Center (ARC) prior to arrival.? In doing this,? DEFRA knows how many animals are arriving at a given time and can allocate their resources accordingly.?

Another reason for the air cargo requirement is the process once your pet lands in the UK. Either an agent or employees of the ARC will take your pet from the airline to the ARC building which is where you will claim it. Because the ARC is located on airport grounds and not at the airline terminal, secure transportation to the ARC is essential. This process began years ago when 6 months of quarantine was required for all cats, dogs and ferrets entering the United Kingdom.

What are the alternatives to air cargo?

pet friendly ferry to UK

Courtesy of Unsplash

One alternative to avoid this requirement would be sailing on a pet friendly ferry. You can fly with your pet in the cabin to Paris if it conforms to? airline requirements for in-cabin travel. Then, you can drive or take a train to Calais and then take a pet friendly ferry or Le Shuttle across the Chunnel. There are several ferry services that serve the northern coast of France including DFDS Seaways, P&O Ferries, Brittany Ferries, and Celtic Link Ferries (to Ireland). Remember, though, that many of these ferries do not accept pets in winter months and most of them require that your pet travel in a car. (DFDS out of Dieppe will accept foot traffic; however, your pet must travel in a kennel on deck.)?

Le Shuttle also requires that all pets and their owners travel in a vehicle. There are services like Folkestown Taxi and Pet Movers that will pick you and your pet up in Calais and take them on Le Shuttle for a fee.

You can also consider flying to Amsterdam, taking a train to Rotterdam and taking DFDS, Stena Lines or P&O to Hull. At this writing, DFDS will accept foot traffic and they have pet friendly cabins to reserve. Although the ride is longer, we hear it is very pleasant.\

You can find more information on pet friendly ferries here.

If you have further questions, please send us an email to [email protected] or post them here. We always answer your questions promptly.


Pet Travel Question: Can My Pet Fly to the UK in the Cabin? — 390 Comments

  1. UK Cat Lover – the issue with shared private jet charter is that one person must accept responsibility for the charter and the date is set and cannot be changed once set. Close friends and family who will not disappoint you would be a possibility.

    Another option would be flying to Amsterdam with a friend so you can fly with your cats in the cabin. Once landed in the Netherlands, you can take DFDS ferry to Newcastle. This ferry has pet friendly cabins to rent. A slower way to get to the UK but certainly pleasant.

  2. I have been stuck in Portland, OR USA for 18 months now away from my family in the UK. In July 2020 I suffered my first ever mental/health breakdown and I adopted two rescue cats called Rani and Zara. They are my emotional support animals and have literally saved me from suicide.I was assaulted by a stranger in Oct 2020, and was also the victim of a hit and run in December 2020, which now requires me to have surgery on my neck, I need to go home as I live alone and don’t have a partner at the moment. I am still suffering from major depression and need to get home asap with my 2 cats. I DO NOT WANT THEM TO TRAVEL AS CARGO. Is there a way to charter a shared private jet with similar pet owners in the USA who need to get to the UK? I need to travel physically with them as without them I won’t travel because of the sever anxiety I am suffering. I can’t afford the price of a private jet but would consider options of cost sharing..

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  4. Trish – the first time you enter the Netherlands, your Yorkie will need an EU health certificate issued within 10 days of travel as well as conform to other regulations to enter the Netherlands. Find them here: You can use the same certificate to enter the UK, regardless of when Brexit occurs. (or so the UK has indicated as such at this point). Get a UK Pet Passport once you have been in Scotland for more than 4 months (or when you have a permanent address). Having a UK Pet Passport will help when you enter and leave the US. Here’s the catch. Going back to the EU from the UK may require a rabies titer test if the UK withdraws from the EU without a ratified deal. You can get that done while in the US as long as you follow steps 1-3 in the URL above. The test is valid for the life of your pet as far as the EU is concerned as long as rabies vaccinations never expire. Keep an eye on this page as we will post updates as soon as they are received. https;// One more thing. Every time you enter the UK from the EU, your Yorkie will need a tapeworm treatment administered by a licensed vet between one and five days of entering the UK. This can be done in the US as US vets can record tapeworm treatments in EU (or UK) pet passports.

  5. How realistic is it to commute back and forward, between U.S. and Scotland, with all the relevant Requirements and documentation in place , spending around 6 months in each country?. I plan to travel with our Yorkie in cabin, on KLM and have my route planned via Amsterdam and then ferry to Newcastle, then train to Scotland .

  6. Ligia – if you are flying in and out of Paris on the same airline and the layover is not more than 3 hours, then the airline will transit your cat. If you are flying Air France or you are changing airline companies in Paris, then your cat will need to clear customs and enter France. It should have the French EU Pet Passport, proof of rabies vaccination, microchip and results of a rabies titer test to do that. Something to think about if your cat does need to enter France: commercial airlines that fly live animals to the UK require that they enter as air cargo. This means that someone will need to claim your cat at the cargo facility and recheck it if you are changing airline companies in Paris.

    You can find requirements to import your cat to France here: You can find requirements to import your cat to the United Kingdom here: https://www.pettravel.como/immigration/UnitedKingdom.cfm. There are links on both pages to further instructions and required forms that can be emailed to you.

  7. Hello, I’m moving from Brazil to UK with my cat. If I land in Paris, what kind of documents will my cat need since passports are not issued or accepted for un-listed countries as Brazil? Thank u

  8. Iris – you can fly to the UK with your Yorkies; however, due to regulations of all commercial airlines, they will need to fly as air cargo into the UK. There are step-by-step instructions for importing a dog, cat or ferret to the UK here and there are links to further instructions and forms if you need them:

    You can avoid the air cargo requirement by flying into Paris (your pups can fly in the cabin if there are two passengers accompanying them), then travel to Calais and ride Le Shuttle to Folkestone. You will need a vehicle for this option. You can also fly into AMS and take DFDS ferry as a foot passenger to Newcastle.

  9. Gillian – according to regulations of all commercial airlines, live animals entering the UK or Ireland by air must do so as air cargo. You can fly with them to the mainland and look at Le Shuttle or a pet friendly ferry to get to the UK via ground. You or someone representing you must travel with your dogs. Another consideration is, as they are being adopted and you do not have proof of 6 months of ownership, they must enter the UK under commercial regulations. You can find those regulations here (step #5):

  10. I am hoping to adopt a dog (or 2 compatible dogs if I can afford it) from Cyprus. The rescue in Cyprus say it will be roughly ?495 to send the dog by air (cargo) to the UK – this is just the price for the shipping of the dog, the rescue don’t take any of it. Is there a cheaper way to get the dog to the UK? Manchester is my nearest airport but I don’t mind travelling to pick him up. The Tui website is misleading because it says you can pay ?53 for your dog to travel in the hold if you are a passenger, but on phoning Tui they say you can’t do this. Please help 🙁

  11. Virgilio – your dogs will need EU Pet Passports reflecting a current rabies vaccination administered after a microchip was implanted. If your dogs are not currently vaccinated for rabies or a microchip, then they will need to wait for over 21 days before traveling. They will also need a tapeworm treatment administered by a licensed veterinarian between one and five days of entering London.

    They will need to enter London as air cargo, if flying. You will need to contact the cargo department of an airline that flies the entire route. You can also drive and enter the UK on a pet friendly ferry or take Le Shuttle out of Calais, France.

  12. I eve a small dogs with all the documents and passport can I travel from Ancona Italy to London

  13. Nikolai – it is possible to find an airline that will fly a small dog or cat out of the UK in the cabin. We have confirmed that both Swiss Air and Lufthansa will do this. You may want to check with Aeroflot and see if their airline Pet policies allow it. Of course, it is always wise so confirm with your airline that pets are flown on your specific route due to aircraft limitations.

  14. Hello!

    I plan to go on a vacation with my dog (bichon frisee) from Russia to the UK for two weeks.

    To my astonishment I found out that flying to the UK with my dog in the cabin is not possible due to the regulations in force. That is why I currently review a number of options including using transfer to the UK via Eurotunnel with the help of Folkestone Taxis (from Paris or Brussels) or going to Harwich using Stena Line ferries from Hook of Holland.

    My dog already possesses a pet passport (with proper marking and identification of animal details, vaccination against rabies details and tapeworm treatment details) and I am able to get the Third-country official veterinary certificate issued by a vet in Russia.

    I would be grateful if you could kindly advise if it is actually possible to fly direct from London to Moscow with my dog in the cabin on my way back (subject to having all necessary documents listed in second point above and Aeroflot accepting my dog on the flight). I am a bit confused on that as I see that according to the regulations you only have to fly your dog as cargo to enter the UK, but no such requirement for leaving the UK.

    If outbound flight in cabin is possible that would mean that I am able to enter the UK by ferry/train without leaving my dog in the cargo and at the end of my vacation fly from London to Moscow direct with my dog in the cabin without having to transfer via the continent, which is going to be a lot easier for both of us.

    Thank you.

    Best regards,

  15. Cat – we cannot advise you on going outside the rules. The UK is very strict about importing animals and needs to monitor their import by requiring them to enter as air cargo. The only work around is to enter the UK by ground, either by Le Shuttle from Calais or a pet friendly ferry from Spain, France, Belgium or the Netherlands.

  16. Thank you, Susan. Unfortunately, I just read on that ADI website that “Neither ADI or International Guide Dog Federation (IGDF) recognize emotional support dogs, ADI Accredited Member programs do not train, place or certify emotional support dogs.” The more I read the more I worry that there is really no work around to move my dog to the UK with me and keep her in the cabin for the air travel. It sounds like the safest bet is to travel via France. I’ve read through a couple of pages of comments, but have you had any of your readers report back that they’ve been successful in being able to travel from US to UK with their dog in cabin? We are moving to the UK so really no way to avoid making the trip 🙂

  17. Hello Cat – all US airlines (and airports) will allow emotional support animals (ESA); however, the UK does not recognize the classification of ESA. What will happen is that your airline will require that, if you are flying to the UK with a ESA, you must product a pre-approval letter from the Animal Reception Center in the destination airport. The UK requires that “assistance dogs” are defined as those who are trained by an organization that is a member of the International Guide Dog Federation (IGDF) or Assistance Dogs International (ADI). You must be able to prove this for your dog to qualify.

    Also, there are airlines such as British Airways that do not recognize ESAs and they fly many routes between the US and UK.

  18. Hello,
    Reading through the comments, it sounds as though certain airlines and airports will allow you to travel with your pet in the cabin if they are a service or emotional support animal. Does this only apply to service animals, or do certified emotional support animals also meet this requirement? If so, what are the recommended airlines/airports for US to UK travel? Thank you!

  19. Hi
    I need to take our dog ( giant breed mastiff) from Merida Mexico to Antigua y Barbuda.
    Looking for alternatives like boats, cruises etc
    Who cban advice me?

  20. Frida – it is difficult to cost transport for live animals because the numbers never stays the same and the pricing algorithms can be complicated for animals flying as air cargo. All commercial airlines require that animals flying into the U.K. and Ireland do so as air cargo. Flying into Paris, taking the train to Calais, then taking Le Shuttle is a popular way to avoid the air cargo requirement and Heathrow fees, but you and your cat will need to ride Le Shuttle in a car. Also, many pet friendly ferries also require that your cat ride in a car. There are some that provide kennels including one sailing from Rotterdam.

  21. I am traveling from Stockholm Sweden to London with our cat. I have been looking around for different ways to bring him but none of the sites I have been looking at says anything about the price. Does anyone know about different prices, going by plane, train or boat?

  22. Linda – EU vets issue what is called an EU Pet Passport. That is what you will need to travel within the UK. If you plan to fly, you should also ask your airline whether a health certificate is required.

  23. Hi Again:
    Thanks so much for your assistance with all our travel questions!
    I have one question regarding a pet passport. I keep running across reference to this document for travel in England and France. We have done our research and are feeling that we know what we need from our vet prior to travel but are confused by the “passport” . If we have all proper documents signed etc. from our vet is that sufficient, or do we need something else?

  24. Kellen – we are a bit confused as the UK permits only certain commercial airlines to land at airports approved as Border Inspection Posts (BIP) in the UK and, although Gatwick is an approved BIP, they are not on the approved list for the import of live animals. You may want to check with another representative of Norwegian to see if they are permitted to fly your dog into Gatwick. Send us an email at [email protected] and we can discuss further when you get their response.

  25. Susan

    First of all I would like to thank you for your tips.

    I bought my ticket for Norwegian, and will be arriving at Gatwick Airport on 7th June (Thursday), my flight will be direct.
    You could tell me the contact of this airport to request the letter of pre-approval and if that day will have officials for immigration my dog.

    Thank you very much

  26. Kellen – in order to qualify your dog as an ESA, you need to read more information here: This is not something you can do yourself. Then you will need to find an airline that is approved for live animal transport to the UK (Lufthansia is one) and take a direct flight to the UK. (no layovers outside of the US). You will need to notify the Heathrow Animal Reception Center (HARC) that your dog is entering the UK in the cabin. There will be VAT due on arrival (20% of the value/cost of the dog + transport – minimum of ?100. VAT will be returned to you once a Transfer of Residency (ToR) form is filed.

    The cost of air cargo is significantly more than in the cabin because the airline will track your pet and also notify HARC of its arrival. The cost also includes the fees of a licensed transporter who collects pets flying as air cargo and takes them to the HARC.

  27. Hi, I’m a resident of UK and I came to the USA for a trip, here I got a dog but I cannot prove because I have not any document, at the moment I’ve been suffering of depression and I did ESA letter, I am going back to UK in June and I’d like to take her beside me inside the cabin, I’d like to know what the costs would have at the airport (VAT,etc), and if they can fail to accept the ESA letter because I am resident in UK.
    If I decide to bring her in the cargo of the airlane, the costs would be the same?

  28. Annabel – due to the regulations of all commercial airlines flying into the UK, all live animals must travel as air cargo. You can check with Swiss Air to see if they fly the route directly; however, unless your dog is a certified service animal, likely they will not permit it. Many pet owners fly into Calais, take the train to Calais and take Le Shuttle to Folkestown to avoid the requirement. You, your daughter and your pet must ride in a car to travel on Le Shuttle. There are services that can pick you up in Calais if you need that such as Folkestown Taxi or Pet Movers.

  29. Hello. I need to fly urgently back from Bari to the UK with my 5 year old daughter and my small dog. I would like to take the small dog in the cabin with us. I am not well and need to get back the most direct route possible. Thank you


  30. Hello Lo – due to the regulations of all commercial airlines, all animals flying into the UK and Ireland as air cargo. Air France – KLM Cargo is approved to fly pets into Heathrow, Gatwick or Manchester.

  31. Hello everyone ,

    I booked my own flight with airfrance because their customer service confirmed twice that I can travel withy dog in hold from Paris to London. They tell me a week later that I can?t transport my dog in hold to london. I was aware that cannot travel in the cabin to london but as checked in baggage ? Is that right ? Since I dont fully trust their customer service after numerous times they gave me false information Im not sure they know their regulations very well. Thank you in advance, Io

  32. Kate – did you price the cost of flying the cat in the cabin with Lufthansa? They will fly pets out of the UK in the cabin.

  33. Rafael – that is correct. You can fly into Paris, take a train or a rantal car to Calais and ride Le Shuttle to Folkestone. You and your Yorkshire will need to ride in a car to ride on Le Shuttle. There are services that can pick you up if needs be. (Folkestone Taxi or Pet Movers). You will clear customs to enter the UK on the France side. Make sure the rental company will let you drop off the car on the UK side. Remember, too, that the tapeworm treatment must be administered by a licensed vet and must be between one and five days of entry to the UK.

  34. I have just given up trying to transport a cat the the UK from Germany as it is prohibitively expensive. The cat was going to be a gift but getting her here is ridiculous. Having to use an agent to fly her was in the region of ?500-600!!!! One option I did find but for us would involve 5 changes of train on the Continent and two here. Stena Line’s Harwich to the Hook of Holland service offers nice kennels and you can travel as a foot passenger. Depending on where you are on the continent, this may be an option.

  35. HiAll,

    I’m flying my pet from Brazil to the UK. I’m not too comfortable with letting him fly as cargo even thou Lufthansa says that it is very secure. By reading the comments threads, I’ve understood that I’m able to fly to Paris with my dog in the cabin (It’s a Mini Yorkshire, 2kg) and then drive to the UK without a problem? Can I assume that this statement is correct, please? My dog is already microchipped, vaccinated against rabies, tapeworm treated and holds a letter from our professional vet.

  36. Hi Pete – the air cargo requirement does not originate from the UK; if is a requirement of commercial airlines due to notification requirements as well as procedures once landed. The Animal Reception Center where animals are processed is not located in the terminals and transport to those centers must be secure and controlled. Licensed agents preform that service. The airlines do not want owners to have to surrender their pets to agents upon landing in the UK. It is also easier to track the entry of pets to the UK when they are on a manifest which is part of the air cargo process.

  37. Our norwegian neighbour flys Malaga-Oslo with his dachshund in the cabin by him. Why is the UK always so problematic. The Eurotunnel service for pets is very good, but you have to drive to and from Calais. A friend got a taxi folkestone to calais with her dog, then a train to Spain.

  38. Linda – both Le Shuttle and pet friendly ferries that run between England and France require that your pet travel in a vehicle. There is a pet friendly ferry that runs from England to Rotterdam that will allow foot traffic, but that is not on your route.


  39. I am travelling from France to England with my dog. I know I can transport him in a car either by train or ferry but we will be on foot. Does anyone know if I am I allowed to travel with our dog if we are not in a vehicle?

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