An overview to importing your pet into the UK

John Mason International prides itself in looking after the entire family throughout the international removals process. From the youngest, to the fluffiest members, we can help! We appreciate more than anyone, that your four legged friend is a much-loved member of your family and our experienced Pet Relocation Division dedicated to providing you with the highest levels of service to ensure that your pet’s move is as smooth and as stress-free as possible.

Importing pets to the UK is a simple process. The regulations differ slightly depending where you are travelling from, but as long as the veterinary preparation is done correctly, there is now no requirement for Quarantine.

The UK Government has mandated that all pets arriving in to the UK by air, must arrive as manifest cargo, i.e. travel in the pet cabin, not the passenger cabin and as cargo, not Excess Baggage and you must engage a licenced Customs Agent to complete the Customs clearance process.

There are only 5 UK airports designated as Border Inspection Posts, i.e. that are allowed to receive pets – London Heathrow, Gatwick, Manchester, Edinburgh and Glasgow, so you have to arrive in to one of those and must travel on an approved airline on that route, i.e. an airline that has been approved by DEFRA to carry pets in to that airport. Not all airlines are approved to carry pets in to all 5 airports.

On arrival your pet will be collected from the aircraft and taken back to the Animal Reception Centre (ARC). As soon as the pets arrive at the ARC, they are taken out of their sky kennels and put into the kennels/cattery there. At Heathrow, the dogs have heated indoor areas with a nice bed and an external run in each kennel, so they will have plenty of space to get out, stretch their legs, get some fresh air, use the facilities and have a good old bark at everyone else that is in there! Cats are checked in to the cattery with a comfy bed, a littertray and a climb pole/shelves, so they too can have a stretch and look out of the windows. All pets are offered a small meal (wet food unless there is food attached to the crate) and water as soon as they are settled into their accommodation. This is where your pet waits until their paperwork is checked and approved for entry and the Customs clearance process is complete. Due to the strict rabies control, it is not possible for us or you to visit your pet during this time, but the staff at the ARC are very experienced and take great care of them. It is possible for pets from the same family to share accommodation. If required, you should state which pets are able to share on the ARC form. You should also list any medications to be administered on arrival.

Clearance can take a long time, so if you intend to collect your pet, so we advise against getting there much too early to be honest. The facilities are great for the pets, but not so good for waiting humans – there are a few seats, a very old vending machine and no toilet!! We will call you and update you on their progress.

As long as your pet is travelling within 5 days of you, either before or after, then their arrival is treated as a non-commercial arrival. If there is more than 5 days between your and their arrival, then it is treated as a Commercial arrival and they will be checked by DEFRA on arrival, rather than just the ARC staff. Please note that currently Manchester does not have DEFRA staff present at the airport and so cannot handle Commercial arrivals. Heathrow is the only ARC with DEFRA staff permanently based there, all other BIPs have to book a visit from DEFRA. Inevitably DEFRA do charge an extra amount for checking Commercial paperwork.

For more information or help moving your pet please call us on +44(0)800 093 2623 or email

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As one of the leading providers of overseas removals services on a national and international scale, we pride ourselves on providing a professional and friendly service from our highly trained and competent team. We have been recognised as one of the leading international moving companies by the networks below and we are, therefore, proud of our credentials and the quality standard they represent. In 2023 we became the most trusted moving company in the UK.

Some of our Customer Reviews

The packers were careful, quick and courteous. I highly recommend this company and would definitely use them again! Efficient, polite, punctual: could not ask for more.

Hertfordshire, UK to Virginia, USA - March 2023

From start with Michelle to finish with Gill the level of service was excellent. John Mason and its international partners handled my move from Devon to Australia seemingly effortlessly. I couldn't ask for better.

Devon, UK to Perth, Australia –April 2023

Absolutely one of the best movers I have worked with. Pleasant helpful admin staff and the delivery drivers were absolute angels sorting and moving the boxes where I asked them to. Arrived exactly when they said it would.

Yorkshire, UK to Sydney, Australia - March 2023

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