Taking your pet back home with you when you move can sound stressful, but it doesn’t have to be a difficult process. Believe it or not, it’s pretty easy, especially if your dog or cat is up-to-date with their vaccinations and has been microchipped already. Here we explain how to relocate your pet yourself, as well as highlighting the recommended companies that British mums have used to relocate their pets.
There are 2 ways you can export your pet from the UAE to the UK.
1. By the DIY (Do It Yourself) method that we will detail below, or
2. By using a pet relocation specialist.
What is a pet relocation specialist?
A pet relocation specialist is a company that will work with you to transport your pet safely from the UAE to the UK (or anywhere else in the world), or equally the other way around coming into Dubai. They will handle the documentation, flights, and customs and clearance procedures at either end of the routes with many offering a door-to-door service.
Is it true that I can check in my pet as excess luggage?
If you are taking your pet to the UK, contrary to popular opinion, the UK does not accept pets checked in as excess luggage. Therefore, helpful suggestions such as “why don’t you check in your pet as access luggage on KLM?” will not work. The UK and Ireland, Australia, Hong Kong, China, and South Africa do not accept this method.
However, if you are taking your pet to a different country other than the exceptions listed above, KLM is well renowned for their pet handling and charge between 75 – 400EUR for this service each way, as long as your connecting flight is less than 2 hours. If it’s a longer connecting time, there is an additional 150 EUR pet handling charge for a ‘pet hotel’ that will feed, walk and attend to your pet, making it an excellent, cost-effective option for many.
If you have a small cat or dog, it may also be possible to have your pet accompany you within the cabin, therefore avoiding the 150 EUR additional charge for the pet hotel in Amsterdam so as long as your pets’ vaccinations and paperwork is all completed (see below.) This way your pet could travel on the same flight as you and you can be reunited with it after you collect your suitcases.
Using this method of transporting your pet as excess luggage, you will need to book a one-way ticket and make a reservation (reservations will need to be made at least 48 hours in advance). For more information, contact KLM’s cargo office on 045057900.
Travelling by cargo from the UAE to the UK
The major airlines flying to the UK (being British Airways, Emirates, Etihad, Virgin Atlantic, and Qatar Airways), are all authorised carriers under the UK’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) Pet Passport Scheme (PETS), commonly known as the pet passport. The PETS scheme allows cats and dogs from certain countries (that includes the UAE) to enter the UK without the need to go through quarantine – as long as they meet certain conditions with their health and vaccinations.
It’s important to note that the UK will not accept any more than 5 animals to be imported and therefore if you’re someone with 6 or more pets you would need to apply for a commercial licence here:
Furthermore, banned dog breeds that cannot be imported into the UAE are Pitbull, Mastiff, Japanese Tosa/Hybrid, Wolf/hybrid, Rottweiler, Dobermann Pinchers, CanarioPresa’s, or any mix of any of the above breeds.
For more information, visit the website
Please check with your appointed cargo agent regarding the restrictions that apply to the transportation of brachycephalic (snub-nosed) breeds of cats and dogs in the summer months, due to the increased risk of heat stroke.
The Do-it-Yourself method to obtain paperwork
You will need to decide when to book your flight for your pet and yourself. If you’re looking to travel at a peak time of year, it’s best to make a temporary reservation on the flight that you want for yourself (without paying yet) and then call up your nominated airline’s cargo department straight away to see if they can confirm space on the same flight as you for your pet.
There are 5 slots per hour that can be allocated by the UK authorities for the clearance of pets, which means that your cargo agent will need to obtain approval for your preferred flight and this approval could take up to 48 hours.
Your pet doesn’t have to travel on the same flight as you, but if you’re wanting to collect your pet yourself directly on arrival, you’ll need to arrange this, otherwise, it is possible to nominate someone else to collect your pet on your behalf.
There are stringent regulations to ensure that any pet being transported has a transportation box that provides adequate room for the animal. These cost around 700 AED for a medium to large dog box or around 300 AED for an average size cat box at pet shops in the UAE, but a good tip is to keep your eyes open on second-hand selling sites.
It’s always a good idea to personalise your pet transportation box including their name, their likes, and dislikes, and adding any blankets for example. It’s a good idea to freeze the drinking water containers that will fit in your pets’ box the night before your flight so it will slowly melt at the airport. This way the water also won’t spill and create a mess and it stays cool. It’s also a good idea to familiarise your pet with its new transportation box to minimise any stress upon it. You can see these requirements for the pet transportation boxes here:
At the Dubai Municipality Ministry of Climate Change and Environment, you can obtain a “Third country official veterinary certificate” (also known as a health certificate) for your pet, which is valid for 10 days before your departure date. This costs around 30 AED and on this, they will record your pet’s microchip number, vaccination details, dates, and their authorisation within the certificate they issue.
If your pet hasn’t been vaccinated or microchipped yet, take your pet, its identity and vaccination records, and any blood test results (if you have them) and if your pet has travelled before, take along your previous records too. Dubai Municipality will do this for you for 250 AED. The vaccinations include blood tests, rabies (if applicable), and tapeworm treatment that must be done at least 5 days before entering the UK (for dogs only) and any boosters required.
10 days before your departure, you then need to acquire an export certificate from the Ministry of Climate Change and the Environment. Their telephone number is 04 2148424 and you can email them at firstname.lastname@example.org
On the day that your pet departs, you are asked to arrive at the DNATA Export Counter at least 4 hours before the flight departure time in order to complete the necessary procedures that include the security screening of your pet, and payment of the airway bill, and clearance with the authorities. Obviously, this is something to bear in mind if you’re looking to travel as stress-free as possible.
One British mum said ‘’It’s very easy to do it yourself. If you decide to do this, when you go to your cargo agent, they’ll send you instructions by email and they’ll guide you along the whole way. At the cargo village in Dubai, there’s an area that deals with animals and they are really helpful.’’
On arrival at the UK airports
When you arrive in the UK you will arrive as any regular passenger would and you then need to proceed to either the Heathrow Animal Reception Centre, Beacon Road, London Heathrow TW63JF, or if you’re travelling to Gatwick, head to the London Gatwick Animal Reception Centre at Cargo Forecourt Road RH6OSQ. Here your pet will be checked and cleared by the Animal Reception Centre (ARC) and DEFRA. The clearance times for pets will normally take up to 4 hours after you land. Here is the telephone number for the ARC +44 0208 745 7894
If you’re travelling to one of the UK regional airports like Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Manchester, Newcastle, Jersey, or Belfast for example, your pet will be cleared by customs on arrival at the airport and you should always get the person who checks your pet when you arrive in the UK to sign and stamp your import certificate.
British Airways use their sister company, IAG Cargo, who charge charges approximately 70 AED per kilo and along with all airlines, calculates charges according to the dimensions of the carrier that you will be transporting your pet in. (If you have a tiny and very light pet, the minimum charge is 900 AED). There are additional charges of approximately £350 sterling per pet (with a weekend surcharge of £70-£80) that is for handling and clearance. Depending on the size and weight of your pet and the dimensions of its’ carrier, it’s very difficult to determine the exact cost.
You can contact IAG (British Airways) Cargo on 04 609 0200.
If you do wish to take the stress out of your move back home, the following companies come recommended by fellow British mums:
Pet Air UK
Dubai Kennels and Cattery
Al Barsha Pets
British mums have paid from 12,000 AED for a small dog to a much larger St Bernard dog being 33,000 AED, so prices vary widely. One British mum said recently ‘’We brought our rescue dog back to the UK in July and were quoted 13,000 AED by a pet relocation specialist and we did it all ourselves and it cost around 8,000 AED, so you need to balance up whether you want to do it yourselves and save the difference.’’
For more information, have a look at the UK government website that provides more information on bringing your pets back into the UK.
If you would like to partner with British Mums, please email email@example.com.