Friday, March 29, 2013

Bringing Your Dog From a Non-EU Country to the UK

Many ex-pats when living abroad will frequently find themselves in a situation where they have acquired a pet, most commonly a dog or a cat. K and I got Orien not long after moving to Hurghada, and after 4 years of having him he is certainly part of the family. We meant it when saying "you now have a forever home."

With this in mind, when our plans started to gravitate towards moving out of Egypt, I knew getting Orien ready to travel (to a destination initially undecided) was a priority. I started the long and arduous process of searching online to find a simple and straightforward 1,2,3 type steps of "this is what you need to do." What I found instead is a myriad of sites that all hold snippets of information, making it almost impossible to figure everything out withiout some help.

That's what this blog is intended to do. Having just gone through the process of bringing Orien from Egypt to the UK, I have compiled a list of steps that you need to follow to get your best friend ready to travel. Be warned however, this process can take up to 6 months, so you will want to start planning in advance to make sure that you have everything ready for your furry friend. Throughout the blog you'll find websites hyperlinked where you can get further information - and then you'll be able to see just how many sites I had to go through to get this whole process figured out.

Blood Test Result

  1. The first, and absolutely most important part of this entire process, is to get your pet microchipped. The microchip must be according to EU standards. On Defra's site, they tell you "We do not specify a particular type or brand of microchip to be used but, in Europe, ISO (International Standards Organisation) Standard microchips meeting specifications 11784 or Annex A of ISO Standard 11785 are generally used." O.o What that means in laymen terms, is that the chip must be readable by an internationally standardized chip reader. Basically, the chip has to be all numbers. If your chip has a letter in it, ask your vet for an ISO standard chip. If you are in the US these can be more difficult to come by, but you can order them online from the UK. 
  2. The next very important step is to make sure your pet is vaccinated against rabies. THIS HAS TO HAPPEN AFTER THE CHIP IS INSERTED OR YOUR BLOOD RESULTS WILL BE INVALID. You will then have to wait 30 days before you can have the animal's blood drawn for a titre test to make sure the antibodies are there. [Please note, if you reside in one of these countries outside of the EU, you do not have to get a blood test done and can proceed directly to step 6, however as I came from Egypt, this is a basic guide for those coming outside of these approved countries] The rabies injection information needs to be put into your pet's passport along with microchip number and other injection information. It does not matter if it is not an EU issued pet passport (although it does make the process easier). 
  3. Once you have waited 30 days, your pet needs to have their blood work tested in a DEFRA approved lab. There are 2 listed on their website in the UK. When I first saw this I panicked, as Orien's blood work was done in Germany. Not to worry, here is the listing of DEFRA approved labs in the EU, and here is the listing of those outside the EU. To read more information about how this process came about, you can read through this site. Ask your vet what lab they intend to send your pet's blood work to before you bother sending it and finding out it's not an approved lab. The results can take up to 2 months to return, especially if you're working with the bureaucratic system that was in Egypt!

  4. When your blood results come back, they should indicate your pet has a volume equal or greater to 0.5 IU/ml and again in laymen's terms, this is indicative of your dog having sufficient antibodies to protect against Rabies. If the animal doesn't, you have two options. Wait a few weeks (or until after the next rabies injection) to blood test again, or you can travel to the UK and your animal will go into quarantine. It currently stands at a minimum of 3 months as they will have to test your dogs blood, and it carries a hefty fee, depending on the size of your dog. Orien is 26 kg, and we were quoted 30 GBP a day. So I recommend you wait if the blood results are off! 
  5. Having received your blood results back, you now have to wait a minimum of 3 months to travel to the UK. There's little else you can do in the meantime, as most airlines will not allow you to book farther than 2 weeks in advance. So rest assured if you have the blood back, you can wait patiently until you decide to travel. 
  6. Once you get closer to the time where you will begin to sort out your animal's airline travel, you next  eed to arrange for a crate. If you know you have a nervous dog, try to get the crate in advance to give the animal time to get used to it. We bought Orien's crate 2 months in advance, so by the time he was ready to fly it was no big deal for him. There are very specific restrictions on what kind of crate is appropriate for traveling. Most will request an IATA approved travel crate. It has to be fully ventilated on all sides, your animal must be able to turn around freely in the crate. Check here and here for information on how to measure your pet for a crate. 

  7. We used a crate similar to this for Orien. If your crate has wheels attached,
    you WILL have to remove them prior to your pet traveling.
  8. As your departure date nears, you have to decide what airline to use. Some will offer different prices, others will be more expensive, at the end of the day it's all your preference. Only requirement is that it meets DEFRA requirements on travel company. Click here if you are planning to fly, and here if you are planning to travel by air or sea. Again for the purpose of this blog I flew Orien, so I will continue giving information for that route. Some airlines will want additional paperwork other than what I have already noted, so phone in advance and check. For your records, neither British Airways nor Egypt Air require additional paperwork. 
  9. You'll notice if you check Egypt Air's website that it states: Weight of animals and their containers should not exceed 5 kgs. The dimensions of container are not to exceed 45x35x20 cms, Passengers must provide these container. I read that and thought "Crap, Orien is far heavier than that. But not surprisingly with Egypt Air, this information is incorrect. It should be that animals up to 5 kg are allowed in the cabin. All other animals will be checked as cargo. NOWHERE on Egypt Air's site does it state this, but trust me it is an option. 
  10. If you have all your airline quotes ready and you're confident in the decision, now comes the rush and stressful last minute details. I highly recommend getting an agent to help you with the Egypt side of things, as specifically to travel from Egypt you require a certificate of health for your dog from the Department of Agriculture, stating your dog is fit to travel. Unless you want to try and deal with the stress of this yourself, it's best to get an agent. We used Safwat Lawendy, who made the entire process seamless and facilitated getting all the last minute paperwork. Find his email address here.
  11. Your dog needs to receive tapeworm treatment no more than 5 days prior to travel, no less than 24 hours prior to travel. Your vet should be able to administer this, and it MUST be added onto the certificate of health AND your pet passport that your animal was given the tapeworm treatment. Should you want an approved list of tapeworm treatment for travel please email me and I will be happy to provide you with the full PDF listing. 
  12. The next step is a cargo company in the UK. Regardless of whether you plan to travel with your animal or not, you will need a cargo company in the UK to receive your pet and help clear it through customs. We flew through Heathrow, so please use this information accordingly. 
  13.  The Cargo Company will send you, as the owner, a C5 form to fill out. This is crucial to fill out as it is the customs form for your animal. If you are flying with the dog, you can ignore the sections on who is picking the dog up, as it's all your own information. If you plan to travel ahead of your animal, the cargo company will require three things from you: A copy of your passport, a copy of your UK address / contact information, and an EMAIL / Letter from Egypt and the pet's sender to you, clarifying that they will be sending the dog to you. Again, Safwat here will take care of these details. If you try to speak to Egypt Air yourself, they will tell you that you need a telegram sent from the UK verifying you can collect the dog. And good luck trying to find somewhere that offers that service still!
  14. Once you've sent off your C5 form, the animals certificates are in order, and your travel day approaches, there are a few things you will need to know. From Egypt, your animal will have to arrive to the airport 5 - 6 hours prior to the flight. Make sure you DO NOT feed them before travel. Your crate must have water for the animal. Orien was sent with his blanket, but you should NOT be sending toys as they can possibly choke while in the flight. It is important to remember your animal will be alone during the flight, so it is YOUR responsibility as the owner to ensure they have nothing to potentially harm themselves with. 
  15. I cannot stress this enough, your animal CANNOT be sedated. Recent studies have shown that a vast majority of animal travel related deaths are the result of sedation. When the flight reaches altitude the animal's blood pressure drops. If they are already sedated and have a lower blood pressure, this can lead to cardiac arrest. As mentioned above, your animal is alone, so please do NOT sedate! If you know that your animal will be nervous, you can use a herbal relaxant such as Valerian root.  Click here for more information on why you should not sedate.
  16. Depending on what airport you are arriving to, you will need a cargo company at your destination airport to clear your animal through customs. Again, this applies even if you are flying with your pet. We used Ladyhaye International Pet Travel Agent, and I was more than happy with their service. All you have to send them is your completed C5 and a copy of your ID, and they sort out all the customs for your pet. Through Heathrow, your animal will go through the Animal Reception Centre (ARC), and it can take up to 5 hours for the animal to clear through customs. Bear in mind that along with the time of your animals flight, they also have to arrive early and are picked up late. So it's important to remember to give them some water to travel :) However at the ARC in Heathrow, your dog / cat will be allowed out, fed, watered, and vet checked. 
  17. If you've made it this far, pick up your pooch! Remember to bring a copy of your passport / ID with you, and to tackle any unforeseen problems, copies of all your pooches' paperwork. I was a little worried about Orien settling in, but fortunately after about 3 days he was doing really well. One week later, and he's in the routine and more than happy! 

And now for the part that I know a lot of people will be wondering. When it comes to cost, it will depend on the size of your animal (the cost goes by the size of your crate plus an approximation of your dogs size). However in addition to the cost of your dog, the following fees may apply:

In Egypt: (AWB = Air Way Bill, your pet's ticket)

If you want to multiply the cost of your dogs crate, you can do it yourself using the following calcultion. For the sake of this example, I am using figures for one medium crate (medium breed dogs such as a collie, etc). Sizes are in centimetres and include length, height and width. 

You multiply the 3 sides of your crate, then dividing by 6000 = your chargeable weight

1 - 96 x 60 x 75 = 432000. Divide by 6000 =  72 kg

  • 72 kg x 36.30 EGP = 2613.6 noted on the AWB (this cost varies depending on the size of your crate)
  • Other charges due air line 195.90 noted on the AWB (standard cost)
  • Storage fees = 175.00  (standard cost)
  • Official health cert + EU health certificate = 475.00 (standard cost)
  • Export & vet control + customs form = 350.00 (standard cost)
  • Clearance fees (if you are using an agent such as Safwat) = 1000.00 (standard cost)
Total cost in Egypt would be: 4809.50 [Egyptian Pounds]

Then once you get to Heathrow you will have more charges to pay depending again on what cargo company you will use. Some of the fees are Heathrow STANDARD, but they will vary depending on when you are flying. If you plan to arrive on the weekend, a surcharge of 175 GBP flat is included. Otherwise during the week, expect to pay an addition 300 - 400 GBP. 

** These fees are standard, and  may change at any time. Please check before flying. **

Fortunately, if you have multiple dogs to travel, you will only pay an additional 50 GBP per dog (up to 5 dogs) in Heathrow. For the Egypt fees however, I am unsure. 

For anyone flying with their furry friend, I wish you all the success. Breathe, relax, and know the people handling your animals are all trained professionals!

Orien enjoying his new home!

Please note, this blog is based on my own personal experiences and knowing how hard it is to find one concrete webpage with all the information. At the end of the day it is always your responsibility as the owner to ensure you are fully familiarized with all requirements. 


  1. :D really Great work .. and thank you for sharing all your experience with all people

  2. I am wanting to take our 6 year old Boxer back the begining of July to UK. I have been reading that the temeperatures play abig role in the transportation and safety of snub nose dogs. I am a nervous wreck. Will the crate and dog bee loaded immediately into an air conditioned area on the plane? I am woried they wil leave the crate in te blazing sun and the dog will overheat even before take off? Any advice??

  3. Hi Anon,

    To be honest I cannot comment on how long the dog would be outside. I know that we had to bring ours 5 hours before the flight, and in that time he was simply waiting. I know for a while he was in the cargo warehouse. How long he was on the tarmac for - pass. However, the undercarriage of the plane IS NOT air conditioned. If I were you, I would be waiting for it to cool down before trying to fly. I would hate for you to lose your best friend because of the heat. Certain airlines like KLM won't fly pets for this very reason. Also many airports have restrictions on the temperatures for when the pet is landing too - again for the same reason. I'm sure from the UK side of things temperatures won't be an issue, but on the Egypt side I would be very wary. Sorry :(

  4. Hi Suz thank you for your reply. They want me to take her at 8pm the night before and its a 10am in the morning flight. They have said I can stay with her overnight and that area is air conditioned. When you say the undercarriage is not air conditioned do you mean the cargo area where she will be travelling?

  5. Hi Anon,

    Yeah the cargo area :) But once airborne it's cold enough anyway. It's the time on the tarmac that would be my biggest concern. If it's a flight that early in the morning that makes a huge difference. Especially being able to stay with her! If you do choose to fly, I would recommend contacting Safwat Lawendy as he really did make the process as seamless as possible for us. Good luck x

  6. Hiya Suz . After walking out today at 9am this morning and realising just how hot it is I have decided to postpone her flying till late September. I was so hot this morning even that early I feel I cant take the chance and a few more months will be worth it.

  7. Really Great work .. and thank you for sharing all your experience with all people. good luck

  8. Thanks for the advice. Why did not I find your blog before? It would be easier for me to travel around London with my pet.

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