Pet Travel – Red-Eared Slider Turtle Ban in the UK

red eared slider turtleFor owners of red-eared slider turtles (Trachemys scripta elegans), pet travel regulations regarding this turtle when entering the United Kingdom (UK) and the EU will be affected after the EU Commission published its new list of species of EU wide concern, as part of the Invasive Alien Species Regulation. This regulation was mandated into EU law on the January 1, 2015, came into practice in the UK and the EU on August 16, 2016.

In order to qualify for inclusion on the list, a species must be non-native to the country, have the ability to thrive in the environment and also pose a risk for the ecosystems that exist in the country.

This breed of turtle is included on the list of invasive species and owners must submit to additional regulations.? An import license is also required for pet owners looking to import red eared slider turtles.

Owners of this species who reside in the UK can keep their turtle; however, it is illegal to import, breed, sell or rehome it. Also, it is very illegal to release it to the wild.

These regulations may pose a problem for owners of this turtle when they need to relocate. Because shelters and rescue organizations are subject to these regulations, they cannot rehome these turtles either, so surrender options may be difficult.

It remains to be seen how Brexit will affect the UK laws on invasive species and whether they will be adopted as they are written.

Find the regulations regarding EU invasive alien species here.


Pet Travel – Red-Eared Slider Turtle Ban in the UK — 30 Comments

  1. Hi Susan,

    Thank you for your response, I appreciate that you have taken the time.

    I have just checked on this link:
    And it looks like red-eared sliders are still on the banned list. On the link that you shared it doesn’t specify the turtle there so not a hundred percent sure if they are banned or not. To be honest, I find the site quite confusing and seem to be going around in circles on it and not actually coming up with anything definitive.

    I wonder if you know anyone that has successfully relocated with their turtle into the UK?

    Thank you!

  2. Hi Susan,

    I have read on your comments that the ban to bring in Red-Eared Sliders has been lifted. Are you able to point me in the direction to see this in writing? I contacted Apha and was told to them contact sites to find out the necessary permits and documentation needed. CITES have just emailed me and said that as per the Invasive Species Act 2019, they are on the banned list so we cannot bring our turtle with us when we relocated from Hong Kong in June. When I checked the sites they were classes as non native species but nothing really stipulated that they were banned. I would greatly appreciate any advice on this matter as we are now down to the final months which I need to secure the correct permits etc.

    Thank you.

  3. Please could I ask if anyone has had any recent experience bringing a red eared terrapin to the UK? Just a single family pet. Thanks!

  4. Hi, I will move to Uk from Turkey and I have 2 red eared slider turtle. How can I bring them with me ?

  5. Elena – this species is not covered by CITES regulations; however, it may be on the list of invasive species and may require a license to import to the UK. You should contact to inquire about regulations to import your turtles.

  6. Hello, I have two yellow bellied turtles (Trachemys scripta scripta) and do you know if I can get them to the UK with me if I travel there?

  7. CT – the legislation that affects the ban on the red-eared slider is the EU Invasive Alien Species Regulations (IAS) that went into effect in August of 2016. This legislation included non-native species that could potentially cause risk to local ecosystems should they be released into the wild. You can read this information here:

    It is not known at this point whether the UK will adopt this legislation (or similiar) as a part of their legislation after Brexit. You may want to contact the Animal and Plant Agency to inquire. You can reach them at

  8. My family are planning to immigrate to the UK from Hong Kong and we have two red eared slider that has been part of the family for 12-13 years that we would like to bring them with us. They have always in my possession as a pet. If needed, they will being presented for my personal importation and will be accompanied by myself (I’m the owner) from the country of origin to UK.

    But after some research, red eared slider are banned from entering. My turtles aren’t not bleeding or reselling, they are just a pet. Can I apply the import permits for them or any advice would be much appreciated.

  9. Dear susan, Thanks for your reply. I have contacted the UK authorities and I now have a uk transport certificate for the red eared sliders but do I need too a Belgian vet certificate or anything else? Thanks. Amanda

  10. I am returning back to the UK from Belgium and I want to take my two pet red eared slider turtles with me to the UK. Is this possible or are they banned from entry to the UK? From what I understand, they might be prohibited ? Thanks.

  11. Hi, I am currently living in China, I rescued four red eard sliders and I hope to bring them back with me to the UK when I eventually move back in a year or so, would this not be possible? I really don?t want to re home them in China as I don?t trust them to care for them properly. If I were to bring them back to the uk would I be able to re home some of them as I don?t think I?ll be able to handle all four? Do you have any advice for what to do? Thanks

  12. Hi
    What is the situation now regarding the import of Red Eared Sliders to the UK. Are they definitely banned from entering ?

  13. Hi,

    Has there been any amendments with regard to bringing in Pet Red Eared Sliders to the UK? We will be relocating back to the UK next summer and have one that has been part of the family for 6 years that we would like to bring home. The APHA were very dismissive when I enquired about bringing her in as they only seem to look at commercial / research imports? She’s just a pet and lives in a large aquarium. Any advice or suggestions would be much appreciated.


  14. Stephanie – There are no restrictions on bringing pet rodents, rabbits, birds, invertebrates, amphibians and reptiles to the UK from other EU countries. However, you should verify that your turtles are not covered by CITES regulations. Also, if your turtles are not native species in the UK, then additional requirements apply. More here >> If you are not traveling with your turtles, they must travel under commercial regulations, be registered in TRACES and an Intra Trade Animal Health Certificate (ITAHC) must be issued within 48 hours of transport and notification must be provided to the Border Inspection Post officials at the point of impor. (Heathrow, Gatwick or Edinburgh).

  15. Hello James – the legislation that the UK has proposed to ban red-eared sliders is not due to go into effect until next summer. You may want to contact APHA to inquire as to what legislation is supporting the current ban on the species. ( )

  16. Hi,

    My fianc? and I own two pet red eared turtles (both female) in Hong Kong. We want to bring them back to the U.K. But after some research, it seems like they are banned from entering. They aren’t for breeding or reselling. They are just pets we’ve had for 5 or 6years. Is there anyway around this ban?

  17. Hi Jim- you will need to apply for a transit permit to transit your Pit through Thailand. We have inquired on your behalf and will update your post when we receive additional information.

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