Bringing animals into Great Britain

When you bring animals into Great Britain (England, Wales and Scotland) for your personal use, for example because they’re your pet, it’s called a ‘personal import’. You may need to follow certain rules or get certificates.

The rules depend on what animal you’re bringing in and what country you’re bringing it from.

If the animal is a non-native species to Great Britain, you’ll have to follow certain rules, regardless of where it’s coming from. You should check the rules for bringing in a non-native species.

You can check if your animal is non-native on the GB non-native species secretariat website.

If you’re bringing animals into Northern Ireland

There are different rules if you’re:

Dogs, cats and ferrets

You can bring your dog, cat or ferret into Great Britain as long as they meet the right health and documentation requirements.

If you do not follow these rules, your pet may be put into quarantine for up to 4 months, or refused entry if you travelled by sea.

You must follow extra rules if the animals will be sold or rehomed in Great Britain - read the guidance in the ‘Goods Subject to Sanitary and Phytosanitary Controls’ sections.

Other animals

The rules for bringing other animals into Great Britain depend on whether you’re bringing them from an EU country or from outside the EU.

Bringing in animals from an EU country

There are no restrictions on bringing pet rodents, rabbits, invertebrates, amphibians or reptiles to Great Britain from EU countries.

To bring a pet bird to Great Britain from an EU country you’ll need a health certificate.

Bringing in animals from outside the EU

Your pet rabbit or rodent must be put into quarantine for 4 months after you arrive in Great Britain. You’ll also need to get a rabies import licence for the animal.

You can usually bring in pet invertebrates, reptiles and amphibians without any health certificates. You must have a signed declaration from the owners saying the animals are:

  • not for sale
  • fit and healthy
  • able to complete the journey

You can only bring in a pet bird from an approved country. You’ll also need to get a health certificate and a pet bird import licence from the Centre for International Trade in Carlisle.

Endangered species

You’ll need to apply for a permit or certificate if you’re bringing an animal protected by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) into Great Britain.

This includes certain reptiles and birds, for example, tortoises and parrots.

Check if you need a CITES permit.

How to get a CITES permit

You need to download and complete a CITES permit application form. Send it to the address on the form.

Border Force can take away an animal if you do not have a permit and they think you’ve brought it into the country illegally.

When travelling to Great Britain, you’ll need to arrive at one of the ports or airports that handles live animals protected by CITES.

Further help

To check the exact rules for your pet, contact the Centre for International Trade in Carlisle.

Centre for International Trade: Carlisle
Telephone: 03000 200 301
Find out about call charges

Centre for International Trade: Carlisle
Eden Bridge House
Lowther Street

To check the CITES rules, contact the Centre for International Trade in Bristol.

Centre for International Trade: Bristol
Telephone: 03000 200 301
Monday to Friday, 8.30am to 5pm
Fax: 028 415 2510
Find out about call charges

Centre for International Trade: Bristol
Horizon House
Deanery Road