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 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. Any – a designated representative can be anyone you give permission to for the transport of your vet. Simple letter of authorization with details of your pet and the transport will do.

  2. Thanks for that information Susan. Extremely helpful. Do you know what a “designated representative” is. Ie,can one of our friends travel with the cats on the same flight and I put them under her name? Many thanks

  3. Hello Amy – because you or a designated representative of yours is not flying with your cats, they will need to fly under commercial regulations. You can find out what these regulations are at under the heading of HEALTH CERTIFICATES. A different Annex form will be required. Your cats will be subject to VAT until you complete a Transfer of Residence form and file it with customs.

  4. Hi, I’m shipping my three cats to the UK from the UAE in the next few months. However,we will be sending them alone whilst we tie things up this end. I’ve read on the DEFRA website that you have to arrive 5 days either side of your pets,but we wont be coming back for another six weeks. The cats will go and live at my parents house,which has also been my UK corresponding address for the last seven years,an the address we will be living in for at least six months after moving back. Do I have to get different paperwork for them as we aren’t arriving within 5 days or can we just ship them and put my parents names down on the TOR form? I’m very confused. Any advice greatly appreciated

  5. Samantha – you will need to notify DEFRA in advance if your Shiba Inu is arriving in the cabin. Every airline has different policies on ESAs. United or Lufthansa may be possibilities if they fly your route. US-based airlines must abide by the Airline Carrier Act which covers ESAs and so, their policies are more accommodating than foreign-based airlines.

  6. I?m planning to travel with my ESA dog from The US to the UK later this year. I see that all airlines? websites say that dogs must travel in the cargo when going to the UK. I have found some info regarding traveling with an ESA on some airlines but haven?t contacted them to see if an ESA would be permitted in the cabin for flights specifically to the UK. If I find that they will allow me to travel with my dog in the cabin with me and with also having all the proper health certificates and vet/vaccination info will I have any potential problems once I arrive in the UK? Will she have to go into quarantine since she was in the cabin? Any recommendations on airlines that would be the best if I have to put her in cargo? She?s a smaller dog between 15 and 20 lbs (breed: Shiba inu). Thank you for your help and any additional information is always helpful.

  7. Hello Shayne – you can find step-by-step requirements to import your dog to the United Kingdom here and there are links to further instructions and forms if you need them: If your pet is not currently microchipped, the process will take a minimum of 4 months to complete. Your dog must arrive as air cargo into London if you are flying by commercial airline. Let us know if you have further questions.

  8. Hi I?m from the Philippines, I just want to ask if it is possible to bring my pet dog to UK specifically in london with me? If yes, what are the process I need to be done?

  9. Taylor – what airline are you flying? Are you flying in and out of Heathrow on the same airline? Will your airline recognize an ESA on the leg out of Heathrow?

  10. Hi. I’m Flying with my Emotional Support Animal (Dog) from Canada to Norway with a 2 hour layover in Heathrow. The company i’m flying with allows dogs in the cabin. He has a Pet Passport from Norway and his rabies vaccination. I’m i allowed to take him through the airport to the gate where my flight is departing from? If so, what are the requirements?

  11. Hannah – all commercial airlines will only fly live animals (ex. service animals) into the UK as anything other than air cargo due to handling procedures once on the ground. You can fly to Paris, take the train to Calais and take Le Shuttle (or a pet friendly ferry) to England. You will need a car to ride the ferry or Le Shuttle. Perhaps a friend or relative can pick you up. There are also services that will do this such as Folkestone Taxi or Pet Movers. As for documentation, you can use the same EU health certificate that you use to enter France to enter the UK. We would note, however, not to forget the tapeworm requirement. (

  12. HI! I am planning to fly home for Christmas with my dog. I was hoping to fly from Chicago to London but it is proving extremely difficult to find an airline that actually fly pets to London, some airlines do but they want to charge a small fortune for taking the dog in the cargo hold. I was thinking of flying into either Dublin or Paris and then getting a ferry because the eurostar and coaches from paris do not allow dogs. Can anybody recommend an airline that can fly me and my dog from Chicago to London without me taking out a loan to bring him with me? Or a loophole for me to get from Paris or Dublin to London? Also one last question – if i do fly into Paris with my dog, would i need to get him a european passport before crossing over to England or will the health documents and everything else be sufficient for him to travel to London from France?

  13. Natalie – did you consider Emirates? Not sure if they will fly out of Australia as checked baggage, but they have an extensive network.

  14. Hello,
    I need to get our dog from Australia to Norway (or anywhere in Europe for that matter) Does anyone have any suggestions /experiences/ knowledge of what the best value option is. I understand that KLM and Lufthansa fly them in the hold, but neither of them operate flights into Australia. Also I am hoping to accompany the dog (Labrador), to make it cheaper if possible. Any ideas?

  15. Jill- KLM or Lufthansa will fly your cat to Glasgow; however you need to contact their cargo departments. All live animals must fly into the UK as air cargo. Ask them whether you can book the transport or an agent must do that.

  16. Kirsteen – you can fly with your pet to Paris, then take the train to Calais, but you and your Shih Tzu Poodle will need to ride in a car on Le Shuttle or a ferry to England. Get the health certificate for France and you can use it to enter the UK. Remember that the tapeworm treatment must be between one and five days of entering the UK and must be done by a veterinarian and noted on the health certificate.

  17. Noureen – if you are flying in and out of Turkey on the same airline, and, if your cat is traveling in the hold, the airline should transit your pet as long as the layover is not over 3 hours. In this case, a transit permit may be needed; check with your airline. If your cat is traveling in the cabin with you, then stay in the secure area of the airport until your next flight. You can have the gate agent sign a document for you that your cat was not exposed to other animals during the layover. If you fly to France, you should get the EU Health Certificate for France as it is your point of entry to the EU. You can use the same form to enter the UK. No additional forms needed for cats.

  18. Hi everyone, I am looking to go home to Glasgow from Nuremberg, Germany for Christmas and thought I could easily take my cat with me but it is proving more difficult than I initially thought. I booked flights with the same company who helped me to bring my cat to Germany but it seems it is easier to get pets out of the uk than into the uk.
    Does anyone know of any airline who will allow pets to travel to the UK, I am happy my cat to go in the hold if needs be as he will sleep the full time no doubt.

  19. I want to take my shitzu poodle back to the uk with me we have had him chipped and rabies shots he will have his worming treatment 26 days and then 5 days before flying its going to be tight as we have to also send his health certificate to new mexico and back to us before flight
    Now we find out we can fly with him in cabin the first leg of the flight but not into the uk.
    We will be flying in november and need to know if we fly into france can it be garunteed we will be able to get to the uk with him on the ferry, then can we fly with him from london to the uk in cabin this is proving to be very stessful

  20. Im traveling with my cat with Turkish airlines from lahore to london. should I go to lahore to france and then uk? If so what are the requirements that are needed in france and how do I travel to uk from france? And is there any documents that i have to show when i reach at uk? The ticket that i am planning to book has a stopover at turkey,is there any documents that i have to show at turkey?

  21. Hi. I want to bring my cat from lahore pakistan to uk. Pakistan is one of the listed countries that has high incidence of rabies. Will my cat going to be placed in quarantine even if i have all the documents,certificate and blood tests?

  22. Fer – to enter the UK with your dog, it must first be microchipped, then vaccinated for rabies and wait for 21 days before entering the country. If your pup is currently vaccinated but has no microchip, then it must be re-vaccinated. A USDA-accredited veterinarian must complete an EU health certificate within 10 days of travel which must be endorsed by your State USDA office in Albany. Between one and five days of travel, your dog will need a tapeworm treatment administered by a licensed vet and noted on the EU health certificate. Details and links to more information and forms if you need them here:

  23. Im flying to Uk from NYC by the end of this Month with my 12 weeks old Golden retriever. What I need to bring with me?. Does my dog need a passport or any special documentation?.

  24. Laura – the EU health certificate is good for 4 months of travel within the EU as long as your pet’s rabies vaccination does not expire. If you are going to be there longer than that, your pet will need an EU Pet Passport.

  25. Great. Yes, I’m aware of the titer tests that are required. So just to confirm: I wouldn’t need to get him an EU pet passport or any other tests after arriving in France?

  26. Hi all,
    I’ll be bringing my cat from China to the UK and I want to have him in the cabin but of course that’s not possible. If I travel China to France, then drive to the UK, are there any restrictions on entering the UK after having previously come from China? (China is an unlisted/third country)

  27. Gina – there is no commercial airline that will transport a live animal to the UK under any class of service other than air cargo. This is why people fly to France because they can fly with their pet in the cabin. As for airlines, if you want to book the transport yourself, then you may want to try United Airlines. They fly through EWR to LHR. Also, maybe Virgin Atlantic can assist. British Airways and Delta will both require that an agent book the transport.

  28. Hello everyone
    I want to travel with my one year old cat from Boston into uk. I need to know what are the required documents for him. Traveling in France and then driving to uk its not an option for me. I need to know what is the procedure that I can follow because he is an indoor cat and it get scared very easily. Which airline is most likely to let me take him in the cabin. I’m going to pay for a business class ticket and I wanted to know if this will help things.

  29. Jen – because an agent must claim your rabbits when landed and take them to the reception center and because they must fly as air cargo, it is expensive to import any live animal to the UK. Ireland will also require that your rabbits arrive as air cargo, but it would be worth getting a price on flying to DUB and taking Irish Ferries or Stena Line to Holyhead. If this is not less expensive, then you may want to consider flying to AMS and taking P&O Ferry from Rotterdam to Hull, England. This ferry will accept foot traffic and we understand it is a pleasant ride.

  30. Hi – I am wanting to get my 2 rabbits from Malta to the UK and it’s a nightmare 🙁 I understand that the UK is the most expensive place – is there anyway to fly into Ireland and then get the ferry to uk? Would this be cheaper? Seem to be getting no-where and would be heartbroken to leave them behind. I know you could go to France and get the ferry over, but as we are going to Manchester it would be such a long trip for them. Anyone have any ideas? All the UK quotes we have had have been around 800E 🙁

  31. Thank you very much Phil, this has really helped me decide on what’s best to do for the cat.
    I really appreciate it! 🙂

  32. Hello Ines – option #3 would be the best option for your cat; however, you and your kitty will need to ride in a vehicle to ride on Le Shuttle through the Chunnel. Option #2 is the least attractive option as it would cause you to carry a crate with you and also to check your cat in at your airline’s cargo facility. Option #1 will be the most expensive and we understand that there are long waits at the Animal Reception Center these days since the inception of new VAT regulations.

  33. Hello!
    I need to take my 1 year old cat back to the UK from Malta in a couple of weeks time but am unsure of the best way to do this. I have three options,

    1. Put the cat in the cargo hold and fly directly into the UK.
    2. Fly to Paris or Brussels with the cat in the cabin and then put her in the cargo hold for the second, shorter flight into the UK.
    3. Fly to Paris or Brussels with the cat in the cabin and then drive via the Eurotunnel from Calais into the UK.

    I would very much appreciate anyone’s advise on this! she is a young indoor cat and frightens easily 🙁 flying to Malta the cat was in the cabin with me and she didn’t cope very well, once in Malta it took her over a week to adjust.
    Thank you to anyone who can help!

  34. Barbara – in terms of your older cat, ground would be the best transport; however, you need to ride in a car on Le Shuttle through the Chunnel. If you have a stressed cat, the best thing to do is to get it a carrier and get it used to the carrier. This will take some time and effort on your part, but animals should be transported in crates or carriers when they travel.

    Flying will be shorter and we may find an airline that will allow one of your cats to fly in the cabin with you but again, it will need to be accustomed to its carrier to be a good traveler. You can also consider a very mild sedative, but you should talk to your veterinarian about that. There are also all-natural pet calmers on the market.

  35. Hi everyone
    I live in England but have my cats in Portugal with my mom, I want them to come
    To England but I don’t drive and My old cat is very stressed when outside and I’m afraid he wouldn’t make it such a long trip.. he’s also quite old , 11 years old. Any suggestions on the quickest safest way from
    Portugal to England for him? My other cat would be just fine it’s my oldest Im concerned about..
    Very hard to not have them with me in England so I really wanna move them but so worried about my oldest not reacting very well to the whole thing

  36. Matteo – it depends on whether your cat had a previous rabies vaccination that was administered after a microchip was implanted and it was just getting a booster or not. If your cat was previously vaccinated, then the 21 day wait does not apply. You should contact the airline that you are flying out of the UK on. They will be the first hurdle. Just know that if you are changing airlines in Germany, that your cat must clear customs and pets that are not properly vaccinated for rabies cannot enter or transit the country.

  37. Hi everyone,
    I’m flying with my cat from London to Mallorca.I’ll have to go to Germany and get the flight to cat passport is updated and fine but I’ve only managed to get my cat the rabies vaccine 19 days before the flight. Does anyone knows if there is any real risk of being stopped from leaving the UK or boarding a plane?
    The Spanish airport autorities say that there is no problem, my concern is UK and Germany.
    Many thanks.

  38. No additional requirements for a cat, Chloe. You can use the same health certificate to enter England as you used for France.

  39. Hi there,
    I’m planning to travel with my cat from Canada to England via Paris. My flight would land in Paris and I would then travel on the tunnel to England. Does anyone know if there are additional documents I will need when entering France and when entering England from France? Do I have to declare her at customs in both countries?
    I will have the International Health Certificate but I’m not sure if I also need an EU pet passport to get between France and England.

    If anyone has any advice it would be much appreciated!

  40. Carrie – no commercial airline will permit a dog or cat to fly into London with a dog in the cabin unless it is a service animal. (very few if any accept ESAs into London). If your pet is small, then you may want to consider flying into Paris, taking the train to Calais and taking Le Shuttle through the Chunnel. You will need to ride in a car to do this. If you do not have a friend or relative who can pick you up, you can try Folkstown Taxi or Pet Movers.

  41. does anyone know which airline let you take a dog from lax to london w/o being ESA or service dog ? btw, i need a cheap airline for this.

  42. Dear all,

    I want to bring my two cats from Georgia to the UK. The above text says: “If your pet is entering the UK from a country with a high incidence of rabies, there is no way to avoid quarantine unless you relocate to a Third Country for at least 6 months prior to entering the UK.”

    It turns out that Georgia is on the list of countries with high incidence of rabies. However, on the official UK government websites, I do not find that animals from “high incidence countries” are treated differently than animals from countries that are just not in the EU and “not listed”. So, is this information still correct?

    Moreover, is it still correct that one cannot bring cats to the UK in the cabin of an aircraft?

    Thanks a lot,

  43. Yvonne – it is not the U.K. that limits pets to arriving in the cabin, it is the policies of commercial airlines. Look for an airline that flies your route and has an ESA policy.

  44. how can i travel with my ESA to the UK if in-cabin animals are not allowed?

  45. Thanks! I also just read this on APHIS (not sure how I missed it):

    “Please note: The EU health certificate is valid for travel within the EU for up to 4 months from the date it is issued by the USDA Accredited Veterinarian as long as the rabies vaccine documented on it does not expire. After entering the EU, dogs subsequently traveling to the United Kingdom, Ireland, Finland, Malta, or Norway will need to be treated for tapeworms by an EU veterinarian within 1-5 days before entering those countries. The EU veterinarian will add the tapeworm treatment information to the EU health certificate issued in the United States. It is your responsibility to ensure your pet meets the import requirements of each country you visit.”

  46. Hello Ted – your veterinarian can record the tapeworm treatment on the EU health certificate after it is endorsed by the USDA. Just have them sign in the place where the Echinococcus treatment is recorded in blue ink.

  47. Does anyone from the USA to UK know how you can abide or legally circumvent strict timeframe of the tapeworm treatment requirement (1-5 day restriction) while also obtaining an official USDA stamped health certificate (valid only less than 10 days)? Is it possible to obtain an EU pet passport once you land in France?

    “Treatment must be administered by a vet not less than 24 hours (1 day) and no more than 120 hours (5 days) before the dog’s scheduled arrival time in the UK. Treatment date and time must be recorded by the vet on the pet passport or official third country veterinary certificate.”

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