A guide to emigrating with your pet

Our animal-loving friends at Currency UK have been on the side of expats for almost two decades, which means they’ve learned a thing or two about moving abroad with furry friends in tow. Here are their top tips for taking your ‘creature comforts’ abroad.

moving abroad with pets

So, you’ve made the decision to move abroad. A new life, a new culture, a new climate.

Joining the ranks of the roughly 300,000 Brits choosing to leave the UK each year is one of the hardest and yet most rewarding decisions you will ever make. Uprooting your family can be a complicated process, but what happens when ‘family’ includes man’s best friend?

Before you leave

You will be relieved to know that moving your pet from to Europe form the UK is relatively straightforward, thanks in part to standardised pet passports across all European member states. And yes, you read that right. It turns out that just like us two-legged animals, our furry friends also need a passport in order to travel.

To qualify for a passport, your pet needs three things.

  • Firstly, they will need to be microchipped. This is a quick and pain-free procedure carried out by a vet, and is placed around the animal’s shoulder area.
  • Secondly, you will need to ensure your pet has had all the normal vaccinations, along with inoculation against tapeworm and rabies. Some of these vaccinations need to be carried out several weeks before you travel, with some requiring follow-up checks, so it pays to plan well in advance of your trip.The vaccinations and microchip number are recorded in the pet passport, along with copies of any tests completed.
  • Your next challenge comes in the way of a ‘Fit to Fly’ certificate, which needs to be obtained from a vet within 30 days of the date of your departure. This is a general health check-up to ensure that your beloved pet is healthy and well enough to cope with the stresses of air travel.

Only when your furry friend is presented with their very own pet passport, with the correct paperwork in hand, you can turn your attention to ensuring your pet enjoys a relaxed, stress-free journey.

The flight

Always check before booking your flight that your chosen airline accepts pet transportation.

Different airlines will have different classifications for pets, with some classing them as cargo, and other classing them as excess baggage. Whatever the classification, you can be assured that your pet will travel in a cargo hold specially designated for pets, where both the air pressure and temperature is regulated for maximum comfort. The hold is kept in darkness to encourage your pet to sleep, reducing any stress and confusion it may be experiencing.

Animal cargo is typically charged according to the size of the pet container and the total weight of your pet plus the container itself. Your pet will need to travel in an International Air Transport Association (IATA) approved air pet travel container, large enough to be able to stand up, lie down, and turnaround in comfortably.

It’s your responsibility to supply the container, which can be purchased from any good pet store. To ensure you get the right size, simply measure your dog or cat’s height when in a seated position. Measure from the front paws, to the top of the head or ears if they prick up. For the correct length, measure the dog or cat lying down.

When it’s time for the flight, place a full water container inside, along with an absorbent layer of newspaper on the base, and some of your pets favourite bedding. Be sure not to overfeed your pet prior to the flight and do not put any food in the container.

Arriving at your destination

Great news! The hardest part is done. You’re tantalisingly close to enjoying your new life abroad with your “best friend”.

When you leave the plane, you will be met by a representative of the airport, and taken to a special holding area to collect your pet. In Europe and The Americas, the process is relatively simple, and you are free to go together.

In Australia, and the UAE, there will be a quarantine period for all animals, so check out your local ‘How To’ guides to ensure you’re aware of the regulations in your destination country before you arrive, to avoid a nasty shock.

If you choose to come back

Here at Currency UK, we have worked with countless expats over the years. We know that, despite best intentions, moving abroad doesn’t always work out, and the best thing in the long run can be to relocate back to your native land.

When it comes to repatriating your pet, the same rules as above still apply. Just be sure that your pet travels on an airline approved by the Animal Health and Laboratories Agency.

For pets arriving into the UK, there is thankfully no quarantine period for pets that meet the travel requirements, provided you are returning from a country registered with the Department of Environment and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).

Final thoughts

Taking the plunge and emigrating is difficult at the best of times, but coupled with the thought of your beloved pet alone in a cage, in the belly of the plane, can make it even tougher to handle. But rest assured, our furry friends are more robust than we may otherwise give them credit for.

The airline industry has also improved the conditions for travelling pets, and ships thousands of pets around the world successfully every year. Keep in mind that the long-term benefits of having your pets be part of your new life abroad will always outweigh the short-term hassle and upheaval.

Here at Currency UK, we’re animal lovers, but we’re far from animal experts. Saving you a small fortune on buying your place in the sun is where we really excel. So, if you’re thinking of making the leap this year, be sure to get in touch with our foreign exchange experts before you transfer a penny, cent, or dollar overseas.