As a pet owner, you want a reliable pet transport service that will take your beloved pet safely to the intended destination. Transporting your pet comes with several challenges—from requirements to logistics to safety. To help your pet have a stress-free journey, we answered seven most frequently asked questions about pet transportation.
1. What is pet transportation?Pet transportation involves transporting pet animals either domestically or internationally by car, planes, boat, train, or other forms of transportation.
There are two types of pet transportation: domestic and international.
Domestic pet transport companies in the UK and Europe offer a wide range of services including transporting of sick pets, pet taxi service, and collecting and delivering pets on behalf of pet owners.
International pet transport means the moving of pets from your country to a foreign country or vice-versa. Global pet transport companies offer a wide range of services that ensure your pet travels and arrives at his destination safely and comfortably.
Services may include providing a pressurised and air-conditioned cabin for livestock, comfortable travel crates for pets, assisting with transport process and requirements, and organising the transport on behalf of the pet owner.
2. How are pets transported by pet transport companies?
Pet Transport by RoadThis refers to moving a pet using land transportation, such as a pet taxi. Pet taxis are equipped with crates, food, and water bowls, equipment needed to keep your pet safe and well looked after throughout the journey.
Pet Transport by AirThis refers to the transport of pets using commercial airlines or charter airlines. In the case of commercial planes, the pets are transported in the hold of the aircraft. For charter planes, pets are transported in the carriage of the aircraft.
Pet transport companies partner with airlines and clearance handlers to ensure that all requirements are met, and clearances are secured. This is to ensure the safe transport of pets.
Airlines that allow pet transportation abide by the rules and regulations of the International Air Transport Association (IATA). They follow the Live Animals Regulations manual, which covers pet crate, safe travelling conditions, and airport and airline restrictions. This ensures that the safety and welfare of pets are prioritised as they are transported by air.
Pet Transport by Sea CarriersThis refers to the transport of pets using ferry or sea carriers. Pets are transported in the onboard kennel of the ferry, or for short journeys inside the vehicle.
3. How does international pet transport work?Transporting your pet internationally can be a long and tedious process because certain requirements must be met. To make the process easier to understand, follow the step by step guide below:
Step 1: Consider hiring a pet transport company or a pet travel expert.Hiring a pet transport service can make a difference in how you navigate the process of shipping your pet from the UK to a destination abroad and vice versa. If you are not familiar with the rules and requirements of international pet transport, a pet transport company can guide you on what you need to do, or the company can do it on your behalf.
To choose a trustworthy pet transport specialist, look for one that is a member of the International Pet and Animal Transport Association (IPATA).
Step 2: Know the rules of transporting pets and complete the requirements.Pet Transport Abroad: EU Countries
Currently, transporting cats, dogs, and ferrets are covered by the Pet Travel Scheme (PETS). This allows pets to move between the UK and European Union countries without quarantine. Below are the requirements you need to comply with PETS:
- Rabies vaccination
- 21-day wait before being eligible to travel to other EU countries
- Pet passport
Note that PETS does not cover wild animals and hybrid animals, such as wolfdogs and Bengal cats, and less common pets such as birds, rodents, and reptiles. A pet transport company or a pet transport expert can help you acquire clearances and comply with additional requirements.
Pet Transport Abroad: Non-EU Countries
For transporting pets to other countries, you must check the rules and regulations of a specific destination country for any additional requirements and restrictions.
Some non-EU countries may require a UK-issued official veterinary certificate in place on a valid pet passport. So you need to bring your pet to the vet. Other countries may request an export certificate. These certificates can be obtained from DEFRA.
The rules for pet travel and transporting of pets will change from 1 January 2021 as a result of Brexit. Keep yourself updated with the current state of UK pet travel here.
Step 3: Get a pet container for air transportOnce you have chosen a pet transport or pet relocation company, it is time to get a crate for your pet. To ensure the safety and welfare of your pet, the container should follow the regulations set by IATA below:
Pet transport airline rules require a crate that your pet can easily fit and move around in. Get his measurement to find the right crate that suits him.
The guidelines state that the minimum length of the crate must be the length of your pet and half the length of his leg. The crate's height should be at a minimum the height of your pet whilst its width should be about twice his width.
Construction and Ventilation
The crate must be well-ventilated. Make sure that the ventilation holes are small to prevent your pet from getting his nose or paw out. It should have a spring locked door, waterproof bottom, no handles except for small crates, and disabled wheels.
Consider adding cable ties on the door and crate corners for extra security. You might also want to attach a non-spill water bottle specially made to be attached to the pet's cage if the journey is particularly long.
Crates can be made from various materials. This includes wood, plywood, plastic, fibreglass, and metal. However, some pet transport companies may require you to use a specific crate. So, it is a good idea to inquire if they have regulations about this or not.
You will also need to securely attach a label to the container with your contact information and your pet's name. Some owners also attach a "Thank You" message for all the staff tasked to handle their pets to express their appreciations.
In general, letting multiple pets from the same household share one crate is discouraged when travelling. However, weaned kittens and puppies are often exempted. This is because a puppy or kitten is better off travelling with their littermates.
In this case, a maximum of three pets is permitted to be inside the crate. Keep in mind that the crate should be spacious enough to accommodate all of them.
Step 4: Follow the five-day rule when you are not travelling with your pet.The "5-day rule" requires pet owners or guardians to travel to the UK within five days after the arrival of their pets. This applies to European pets coming from EU countries.
If you arrive at a much later date and it goes beyond five days, your pet will be considered as a commercial import.
As pet transport would be declared as a commercial movement, you will need to obtain an Annex I Health Certificate and pay additional fees (DEFRA tax).
4. How does Domestic Pet Transport Work?Domestic pet transport refers to moving your pet within the UK. It is less complicated than international pet transport, but there are still requirements that must be met. Here are some things you need to be aware of when transporting your pet domestically.
- For short-distance journeys, ground transportation is typically used by pet courier service companies. They use pet taxis or customised vehicles designed for comfortable, safe, and smooth journeys.
- Climate-controlled vehicles are used to transport pets for boarding, grooming, moving, vet appointments, and other travel activities.
- Pet transport services vary across providers, but most of them offer door-to-door service, which is suitable for short-distance travel.
- For long-distance travel on the road, pet transporters typically have designated stops to check on the pets, feed them, and walk them.
- Pet air travel is typically used for long-distance travel.
- Pet service companies can help assist with the paperwork before travel. This includes getting the necessary clearances and certificates.
- IATA-approved travel crates must be used to ensure there are sufficient space and ventilation.
5. Does Uber transport pets?The decision to transport pets through Uber lies solely on the driver. In general, service dogs should always be permitted to ride with their owners. If pets belong to the non-service class, then it is the driver's call whether he would offer a pet taxi service or not.
Most domestic animals, including cats, dogs, rabbits, and guinea pigs, are welcome to ride an Uber. Before booking the ride, you should take the initiative to inform the driver of how big your pet is. This way, the driver can assess if the vehicle is suitable for transporting your pet.
6. What licences are needed to transport pets?Transporter authorisations serve as proof that pet couriers are trained and competent in safely transporting pets. 2 types of authorisation licences are available:
- Type 1 – Short Journey
This authorisation is meant for pet couriers whose estimated travel distance is 65 kilometres and travel time is up to 8 hours.
- Type 2 – Long Journey
This involves a pet travel distance of over 65 kilometres and a travel time of more than 8 hours.
These authorisations are released by Animal Health in England, Scotland, and Wales and by the Department for Agriculture, Environmental and Rural Development (DAERA) in Northern Ireland. Animal transporters from Great Britain should get their authorisation from DAERA.
Other countries that are outside the EU can still apply if they are represented in the UK. Both authorisations are valid for 5 years and should always be carried by pet transporters when moving animals.
Transporting pets without a valid authorisation licence is considered an offence under domestic Welfare of Animals (Transport) legislation. If caught and convicted, a custodial sentence and/or a fine of up to £5,000 will be imposed.
Pet couriers whose travel distance falls below 65 kilometres are not required to apply for a transporter authorisation licence. However, be warned that some who operate unlicenced pet transport services can be scammers or may lack skills in properly handling pets during travel.
Take a simple precaution by opting for a pet transporter with an authorisation licence. This ensures that your pet is in trustworthy and capable hands during the entire journey.
- Type 1 – Short Journey
7. How to choose the right pet transport provider?To ensure that the pet transport service provider you choose is highly capable of safely transporting your pet, consider asking these questions:
- Are they experienced in handling pets?
- Are they licensed and DEFRA-registered?
- Are they fully insured?
- Can they travel to the place where you want your pet moved?
- What measures do they follow to ensure the safety of the pets?
- Do they monitor the pet's journey and inform owners of the arrival and delivery time?