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?
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.
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