Pet Travel Question: Is there anyway I can fly to the UK with a pet in the cabin?

LondonPet Travel gets many people who ask the same question: is there anyway to fly to the UK with my pet in the cabin with me?

The answer is, unfortunately, no. Due to airline regulations, currently 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 animal and your airline has a program in place to support them. This is a requirement of the airline. It is not a requirement of APHA or DEFRA (Department for Environment, Food & Affairs).

One alternative to avoid this requirement would be to fly with your pet in the cabin to Pairs, take a train to Calais and then take a ferry or take Le Shuttle across the Chunnel. There are several ferry services that serve the northern coast of France including P&O, Brittany Ferries, and Celtic Ferries (to Ireland). Remember, thought, that many of these ferries do not accept pets in winter months and most of them require that your pet travel in a car. Le Shuttle also shares this requirement. There are services that will pick you and your pet up in Calais like Folkestown Taxi and Pet Movers.

You can also consider flying to Amsterdam, taking a train to Rotterdam and taking Stena Lines or P&O to Hull. At this writing, Stena will accept foot traffic and, although the ride is longer, we hear it is very pleasant.

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


Pet Travel Question: Is there anyway I can fly to the UK with a pet in the cabin? — 387 Comments

  1. Dana – thank you very much for your comments and your clarification. We get lots of questions about flying ESAs to the U.K.

  2. I thought this might be helpful for those traveling with an emotional support animal, which is not recognized as an assistance dog in the UK. But I had known someone who frequently travels with their ESA into the UK so I emailed Animal and Plant Health Agency and received this very interesting and promising response:

    “The current policy requires that all pets (dogs, cats and ferrets) entering airports in Great Britain (GB) are checked by an approved checker at the pets checking facility. The procedures for doing this are set out in each airline’s required method of operation (RMOP), and pets can only be transported in accordance with the conditions of the RMOP agreed with the particular carrier. However, operations at airports are both sensitive and complex, and other vital border controls need to be taken into account when these procedures are agreed. In practice, this means that most pets currently travel to GB by air as ‘manifest cargo’. This not only enables the pets to be transferred efficiently to the pets checking facility, but also means that a documentary record of the pet’s arrival is available to customs and other border control officials.

    However, if a traveller is accompanied by a recognised assistance dog that performs an essential service for them (examples of recognised assistance dogs are: guide dog for the blind, hearing dog for the deaf or medical alert dog) the dog may travel in the cabin of the aircraft. Airlines based in Third Countries require a RMOP before they can transport recognised assistance dogs and commercial airlines based in the EU (Community air carriers) are requested to agree a Memorandum of Understanding to ensure that checks on the recognised assistance dogs can be done on arrival in GB. If dogs do not provide an essential service as those listed above, they may not be recognised as assistance dogs by the airlines or airports.

    It is our understanding that all American airlines flying from the USA must comply with the legislation for disabled persons in the USA. Unlike the USA, GB does not legally recognise ‘emotional support animals’. Airports and airlines do not have any obligation under EU law to accept emotional support dogs as recognised assistance dogs and have no obligation to pay for the checks carried on them. However, in order to allow airlines to abide by their obligations under US disability legislation, American airlines can agree a RMOP to allow emotional support dogs, cats and ferrets to travel in the cabin.

    As such, if you wish to travel to GB with your emotional support animal in the cabin, you will need to discuss this with your airline to confirm if they have an RMOP in place which allows them to carry Emotional Support Animals in the cabin of the aircraft.

    If your airline has confirmed that they have an agreement in place which allows them to carry Emotional Support Animals in the cabin of the aircraft, you will then need to obtain pre-approval from the Animal Reception Centre (ARC) at the UK airport of landing.”

  3. To Kelly Wallace…. what steps did you take for the ESA? There are so many companies offering this service, and we don’t know which to go with, but excellent to know that NOR air accepted it…very helpful

  4. Christine – as your Terrier will fly as air cargo, the airline will make no guarantee that it will fly on the same flight as you will. In any case, there are agents that will deliver your Terrier to your door (for a fee). We do remember the requirement that your pup be accompanied to fly into Manchester; however, we are unable to confirm that at this time. Best to ask your service as they will be in touch with an agent in MAN that will collect your pet and take it for processing.

    Thanks Phil, I will be only booking my flight once I know which flight the dog will be on and hopefully there are seats left! Thanks

  5. Christine – as your Terrier will fly as air cargo, the airline will make no guarantee that it will fly on the same flight as you will. In any case, there are agents that will deliver your Terrier to your door (for a fee). We do remember the requirement that your pup be accompanied to fly into Manchester; however, we are unable to confirm that at this time. Best to ask your service as they will be in touch with an agent in MAN that will collect your pet and take it for processing.

  6. Hi there, we are relocating back to the UK from Australia and have a 2 yr old small mini fox terrier X who we are bringing back with us. He has all his C5 jabs and his rabies injection last month. I am using a shipping agent/pet transport agent to do this as I found it a bit overwhelming doing this alone. Our house sale completes next week, so will be paying the shippers and the agents and hopefully be on our way soon! Just one question, I seem to remember reading somewhere that in order for our dog to be able to fly to Manchester I need to be on the same flight as him, as if not, he can only fly to Gatwick or Heathrow? Anyone else heard of this??

  7. Can you be more specific? You mean the ways to fly to the enter the UK with a pet in the cabin? If so, yes.

  8. Hi, I was reading this for advice but after arranging my travel with my dog I thought I would share incase it is helpful to anyone else.
    I am travelling from New York to Edinburgh next month with Norwegian Air and my dog is flying in the cabin with me. He will also fly in the cabin with me for the return trip. He is an ESA though.
    To arrange this I contacted the animal reception centre at the airport and had to provide them with all the dogs papers as well as my ESA papers and pay a £350 processing fee (plus an additional £150 out of office hours fee since I land on a Saturday.) They then send the airline a letter authorising you to fly in the cabin with your dog.
    It took me a lot of research to work it all out so I hope this is useful to someone!

  9. Hi Zane – not all airlines fly pets out of the UK in the cabin, but some do. Try Lufthansa, Air Canada or Swiss Air. There may be others, but we have confirmed these.

  10. I’m trying to fly from the UK back to the US, Chicago specifically.

    Do any airlines allow pets in cabin for UK to US flights?

  11. Andrew – the requirement that pets enter as air cargo originates from commercial airlines, not the government of the UK. Many airlines subcontract their air cargo services for live animals to other companies. In most cases, these companies will require that an agent book the travel to the UK. British Airway is an example of this. That said, there are still airlines that are approved to fly into the UK where you can book the transport for your pet. United and Lufthansa are examples.

  12. LiTi – because the transport of your cat is for the purpose of change of ownership, it must travel under commercial regulations. An Annex I (commercial EU health certificate) must be completed within 48 hours of transport and endorsed by the CFIA in Canada. Upon entering the UK, your cat will be subject to VAT which is approximately 20% of the value of your cat plus its transport. No import permit is required; however, you will need to enter the UK at Heathrow, Gatwick or Edinburgh and notice must be provided to veterinary officials at the airport your cat will be entering.

  13. I will be travelling from Canada to the UK on Air Canada, with the purpose of re-homing my cat in the UK. I have developed allergies and my aunt in the UK will adopt him. The cat is microchipped and has had his rabies vaccine. My veterinarian is ready to complete a health certificate. However, I am really struggling with the documentation that needs to be completed. The Customs broker says that only Annex IV (animal health certificate for non-commercial movement into a member state from a territory or third country) needs to be completed and that I would need to pay VAT upon arrival. However, in Annex IV, I need to sign a declaration that the animal will not be re-homed in the UK, which is not my case. So my question is: Which Annex to I need to complete, Annex I, Annex IV, other? Also, if this is considered a commercial move, do I need a license of any sorts? Please advise on the full documentation that needs to be completed. The last thing I want is for my beloved cat to be quarantined because of bureaucracy. Thank you.

  14. Keep the legs of your trip at a maximum of 8 hours. You may need to enter the layover country which could be an issue depending on your route.

  15. What would be the best way to take our cats along with us during our holiday in the united states? We don’t want to have them stay in the cargo hold for such a long flight!

  16. Kitti – due to the regulations of the commercial airlines, all live animals entering the UK must do so as air cargo. (not a requirement of the government; it is an airline requirement.) Some options around this requirement are to fly to Paris, take the train to Calais and have a friend, relative or service pick you up in a car and ride Le Shuttle through the Chunnel or take a pet friendly ferry (P&O) to England. You will need a car to do this. Another option is to fly into Amsterdam, take the train to Rotterdam and take the ferry to England. Last time we checked, P&O permitted foot traffic from Rotterdam.

  17. I’ve been reading all the comments on here. I’m flying back to England with my two Chihuahua’s (5lbs and 8lbs). When I fly in May they would have met all of the UK’s requirements, my huge concern now is the flight! My understanding is that Delta will fly small animals in the cabin, if it’s less than a 12 hour flight, and they are in a hard carrier that fits under the seat? Like most people my dogs are part of my family. I’m sure mine won’t be the only Chihuahua’s to have ever flown but they are an incredibly nervous breed and that worries me if they are flown as cargo. Any advice would be greatly received!!

  18. Romina – you will clear customs in Calais before boarding Le Shuttle. If your cat has a current rabies vaccination administered after a chip was implanted and more than 21 days of travel and an EU Pet Passport, you are good to go.

  19. Unfortunately, this is true. I’m moving from Spain to the UK in May, and I’ll be carrying my cat with me. There is no way to take your animal to the UK unless it is by cargo (that is, not even on the same plane as me). As cats get stressed easily, I thought that the shorter the trip the better so I called a cargo company and they said the price from Barcelona to London was 1300 € (including the £ 400 to pick him up at Heathrow). Absolutely ridiculous, taking into account that, apart from that, you have to pay for the pet passport, the vaccines, the vet certificate, the special kennel, etc. Anyway, I decided to fly into Paris with Air France (75 € for pet on hold), and then my boyfriend will pick me up at the airport and we’ll cross the Eurotunnel. It’s the cheapest way, and my cat will only be away from me from check-in at the airport until I pick him up at Charles de Gaulle.

    Just a question… Do you know what the procedure is when we arrive in Dover? I am a bit frightened because my cat is 9 years old, I have recently adopted him and he has his passport and all, but he has been vaccinated for the first time ever (rabies and trivalent vaccine – the vet told me those are the necessary ones)… Is it still okay?

    Thank you in advance 🙂

  20. I would like to travel to the UK with my chihuahua.I don’t think that he will be able to travel in the cabin as he can get quite anxious.Any alternatives?

  21. RE : Philip Summers on September 20, 2016 at 4:25 PM said …

    would be most interested about how your flight went. I am booked on a BA flight JFK – change plane at Heathrow – continue to Hamburg end of April. Have spent fruitless hours on phone with BA Customer Service regarding (a) dog in-cabin, and (b) quarantine rules apllying – or not – to a change of terminal event. Thanks – Geert

  22. Richard – you and your Poodle can travel on Le Shuttle through the Chunnel, but you need to be in a car to do this. Renting a car in France and dropping it off in England is a bit difficult as rental agencies will charge a hefty premium for this. There are services that will pick you up in Calais, but they are not inexpensive. There is a ridesharing service available as well. Email for more information.

  23. We are planning on going on vacation to the UK with our 10 lb toy poodle in December.

    If we fly to Paris would we be able to take the train through the Chunnel?

    Would we be able to find an airline that would allow our poodle to travel back to the USA in the cabin from London?

    Taking we will have all the passport and other paperwork in order??

  24. Hi Leva – there is no commercial airline that will fly a live animal into the UK as anything but air cargo. You can fly to Amsterdam and take the train to Rotterdam and take P&O Ferry to Hull as this ferry will take foot traffic. Or you can fly to Paris, take the train to Calais and take a pet friendly ferry to Folkestone or take Le Shuttle across the Chunnel, but you will need a car to do this option. You can find more information about pet friendly ferries to the UK here:

  25. I am planning to bring a 4 month old kitten to UK from Lithuania (EU country). A kitten is too small to go as cargo and it is not suggested by the breeder. Ideally, I want to have a kitten with me in the cabin. Is there any possibility that it could be done? (Kitten will have all documents, vaccinations, microchip).

    Thank you

  26. Jazz – it is possible if you can find an airline that flies pets out of the UK in the cabin. Swiss Air does if they fly your route.

  27. Jo – not sure which airlines you have spoken to, but British Airways will require that an agent book the travel as will Delta (if they do not serve the route with a B767) Generally, the airlines will build in the cost of an agent to collect your pet in London and take it to the Animal Reception Center, but do not require an agent to book the transport. Did you check with United or KLM?

  28. Hi
    Looking to fly my dog from Central Florida to London. I know he has to fly cargo, but I’m having difficulty finding an airline to give me a quote. They all want to steer me through an agent which I cannot afford. Any suggestions ?

  29. Hi , I would like to know if it is possible to take a pet (in cabin) FROM the UK to Spain.

  30. Marc -you will not find a commercial airline that flies pets into the UK as anything other than air cargo due to handling procedures on the ground. You can fly into France and take a pet friendly train to Calais, but there, you need to find an auto to take you through the Chunnel as P&O no longer takes foot traffic as we last heard. You can hire a service to take you across, hire a taxi or try to arrange a shared ride like Blabla Car.

    Another option is to fly into Amsterdam, hop the train to Rotterdam and take Stena line to the UK. It is a bit longer, but the ferry is a nice ride.

  31. Good evening,

    I will be moving to the UK at the beginning of January, I have cat which I would like to fly over with me. I have been in contact with the several airlines which fly from Lisbon, Portugal to the UK, but up to now most of their answers have been negative, ether that aren’t allowed to take pets or they need to be placed as cargo.
    After reading some of the comments above, I understand and correct me if I am wrong, the option I have is to fly into France, then drive and catch a ferry in to the UK?
    Are there trains that run between France and the UK, are there also restrictions?

    Thank you in advance and if there are any other suggestions I kindly ask you to share it with me.

  32. I want go to London with my English Bulldog (9 months old)
    from lima Peru in 6 months
    I would like to know all the conditions and fees
    and how long does quarantine last?

  33. Hi Lea – the need for an agent when flying into the UK is caused by procedures established years ago when the UK required quarantine for pets entering the country. Even today, all pets must be collected from the aircraft and brought to the Animal Reception Center which is away from the terminal by a licensed agent. The airlines do not want to collect pets from people traveling in the cabin, so, they required that pets must travel as air cargo so they could be tracked and easily collected. Most airlines will build in the cost of an agent into the ticket price. There are also paperwork fees at the ARC.

    If you fly into Amsterdam, then your pet can travel in the cabin as long as it conforms to in-cabin rules or checked baggage if it does not; both of which are significantly less expensive than air cargo. No agent is needed to clear your pets either. There are no ARC fees to contend with in Rotterdam either. Much less expensive if you have the time to enter the UK this way.

  34. Hey
    Do you know if there are any airlines/airports that you can fly into from the EU that don’t require an expensive agent / all these hidden costs that seem to pop up left right and center.
    I am just trying to bring my cat with me after the holidays and its currently looking like a flight – train – train – ferry – train – train trip. Which would probably be less problematic with a dog but its harder with a cat. Which is an insane trip (not just to organise) and still less than half the price of one of those agents.
    I’m really quite at a loss and don’t understand why its being made so expensive / difficult.
    Do you know know if there are any hidden costs if you fly the to say Rotterdam/Amsterdam to take a ferry from the hook of holland (the only ones which will let you be on foot with a pet).
    thank you for your help

  35. Lynn – according to airline regulations, your Poms will need to fly as air cargo. You can confirm this with Qatar Airways, but we know of no commercial airline that will fly pets to the UK under any other class of service other than air cargo.

  36. Hi, I am planning on transporting my two Pomeranians from Bahrain to Manchester on Qatar Airways, can they come as checked baggage or do they have to go cargo?

  37. I am sure people who charter private jets in places like Private Jet Charters Houston may consider the empty legs. Though one might not save much, a coin saved in a convenient way is still worth.

  38. Lance – the airlines seem to be drifting to a requirement that pet transports are arranged by agents, especially out of UK. Did you try United? KLM and Lufthansa also serve the route, but believe they will require the same. Avoid Air France if you can as they will cause you to claim your pet during every layover and recheck (for another fee). Brussels Airlines may also be an option.

  39. Hiya,
    Can you tell me what airline will allow me to take my pet in the hold on the flight I am travelling on without having to use a mega expensive freight company who seem to derive their living on your love for your animal. I travel from B,ham UK to Tampa at the end of the month. The agent that booked my flight misled me and when I have checked freight companies they are asking £1200 one way. are they on another planet???
    I think and about to try Iceland air as I was informed your pet travels in the hold as your luggage ie:- a 10 kilo dog in a cage deducts from you baggage allowance!!!

  40. Phillip – your post is interesting for several reasons. First of all, United is not approved by DEFRA to import any live animals into Manchester from outside of the EU. Secondly, we know of no commercial airline that will permit the import of animals to the UK in the cabin unless they are medically certified service animals and, in some cases, emotional support animals. In these cases, special arrangements must be made with the Animal Reception Center. We must mention that many representatives that service general calls are not aware of the airline’s pet policies when importing animals to foreign countries. Further, we have not been made aware of any change in policy by United. You may want to call again and speak with a supervisor.

  41. I am traveling to the UK, planning on using American Airlines from Chicago to Manchester, I have already contacted them twice and both times they confirmed that I can travel with my Maltese dog in cabin for a fee of $125 I think they said, as long as I have the correct health certifications. Manchester airport website however only says that they allow assistance dogs within the terminal. What happens when I land? Is it better to travel through Heathrow?

  42. Maggie – the reasons why it is expensive to fly into London with pets is that they must travel as air cargo which is more expensive than checked baggage or in-cabin and also because a licensed agent must pick up your pets from the plane and take them to the Animal Reception Center for processing. The agent fee runs about $600+ and there are processing fees at the ARC as well. If you are accompanying your personal pets to other EU countries, there should not be an entrance fee unless your pet needs to be further inspected. The fee for Le Shuttle through the Chunnel is not significant, but you will need a car to travel this way. Hard to find a rental agency that will allow for a one-way rental. Another option is a pet friendly ferry like Stena or P&O. Just make sure that they will allow foot traffic for your cats on your specific route and whether they have crates available.

  43. I’m getting ready to travel to the U.K. from Florida. I am not comfortable flying my cat in the cargo hold and want to take her in cabin. In order to do this, as the U.K. airlines/DEFRA do not allow in-cabin flights to the U.K., I was informed to fly into Paris, then head to Calais and chunnel over to the U.K. to be able to take her in-cabin. I’ve searched everywhere to find out if there are certain days that are required for me to fly into Paris for a pet arrival? I know when you fly into the U.K. via pet in cargo, they will only allow arrivals Monday through Friday as that is their only pet customs check-in availability. Is it the same in Paris or can you arrive any day, weekend included? I’ve honestly searched everywhere – even the Charles de Gaulle website and found no information. Any you know of would be greatly appreciated! BTW, I am going to fly out of Miami to Paris. Thanks so much!

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