Rachel is a Marketing Geek. Anything where technology meets Sales & Marketing
is her passion! She also loves travel and plays the clarinet.
Putting your pet in the hold may expose them to extreme heat or cold. It’s
important to think about their safety while flying!
How to Avoid Putting Your Best Friend in the Hold
Recently my friend told me that she was having trouble flying from the United
States to the United Kingdom with her Shih Tzu, Brussels. Her main concern was
that it wasn’t possible to fly together with her dog in the cabin, and she
would be forced to put him in the hold which, having heard some of the stories
about animals being exposed to extreme cold or even dying, was something she
really didn’t want to do.
They seem to want to treat my best friend like a piece of luggage.
I jumped into research mode and began looking into the main issues surrounding
flying from the US to the UK with a pet. The first consideration is the Pet
Travel Scheme outlined by DEFRA (the UK government Department for Environment,
Food & Rural Affairs). The second, more pressing issue, was that UK
Authorities do not permit animals to fly to the UK within the aircraft cabin
because they wish to prevent rabies from entering the country via infected
There are strong border controls in force checking animals that travel in the
hold; however, they feel it would not be possible to prevent rabies from
entering the country if animals were routinely allowed into the cabin. Only
certain airlines are permitted to carry dogs, cats and ferrets into the UK
under the Pet Travel Scheme, and none of them are permitted to bring in
animals within the aircraft cabin. The exception to this rule is if you are
travelling with an Assistance Dog.
Whilst looking into a solution for Brussels, I discovered that flights into
Charles De Gaulle airport (CDG) were not constrained in this way and it would
be possible for her to travel with him across the Atlantic in the aircraft
cabin with him at her side.
The flight with Air France to Charles De Gaulle was also cheaper than the one
to the UK because Brussels was considered to be “Excess Baggage” rather than
I believe I can fly!!
Shih Tzu Daily
Lots of Dead Ends . . . Then We Found Pet Moves
“Great,” I thought. “We’re across the pond, now we need to get across the
Channel”. It turned out to be less straightforward than I thought. Here are
the dead ends I went through before finding a solution:
Eurostar is a super-fast passenger train that operates between Europe and the
UK which I discovered do not allow pets on board their trains, although
Assistance Dogs are permitted when booked in advance.
Ferries From Calais to Dover
If you’re travelling from Calais to Dover on a ferry as a car passenger, you
can carry your pet with you; however, you will be required to leave your pet
in the car for the whole journey.
Even if my friend did have a driving license, I’m pretty sure she wouldn’t
have gone for that option since it could be almost as distressing as being put
in an aircraft hold. I’m told that car alarms are triggered regularly on
ferries and the car deck is a noisy and unpleasant environment for a pet alone
in a car. As a foot passenger, she would not be permitted to travel with her
pet at all.
Traveling on Eurotunnel
Although pets are permitted on Eurotunnel (with a valid Pet Passport), foot
passengers are not because the train is a drive-on, drive-off service with no
seating and very basic facilities.
Putting aside my friend’s requirements, going via a ferry or Eurotunnel by car
would be possible if you hired a car at the airport and drove across the
channel, however you’d still need to drive it back to Charles De Gaulle
airport in a timely manner because there aren’t any car hire companies that
will allow you to drop a car off in a country where the steering wheel is on
the “wrong” side.
I did find a few pet couriers who would transport Brussels from Charles De
Gaulle airport to the UK, but they seemed to transport several animals at the
same time in cages and it didn’t seem to gel with what we were looking for. I
also wondered how they dealt with walking the dogs on long journeys and
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Pet Moves Taxi and Chauffeur
This is where we finally found our solution. We found a company that was able
to transport my friend, her luggage and Brussels the dog from Charles de
Gaulle airport, across the Channel on Eurotunnel and directly to her front
door. He had a VW people carrier which was very comfortable and had ample room
for the journey.
When we added up what the other options would have costed, and the
unacceptable compromises we would have had to have made, it really made sense.
The guy who drove her was called Barry and he worked for a company called Pet
Moves who are a DEFRA-approved animal transport service who are also happy to
take humans and luggage!
Getting the Paperwork Right (Pet Travel Scheme)
Aside from the logistics of getting from the US to the UK without putting her
dog in the aircraft hold we also needed to consider the UK regulations for
bringing pets into the UK and avoiding quarantine.
The Pet Travel Scheme was put in place to ensure that all animals entering the
UK have been microchipped, vaccinated against rabies and treated for tapeworm.
There are other regulations for specific countries. For example, cats coming
from Australia must have a certificate showing protection against Hendra
disease; to check the regulations for your particular country of origin please
read this article on the DEFRA mini-site.
It is important that you have all the vaccinations and the necessary
documentation well in advance of travelling. For example, your pet must be
vaccinated against Rabies at least 21 days before travel. If you haven’t
arranged this within the specified timeframe, then you will either not be
permitted to travel or you will be asked to put your pet in quarantine in the
Please note that if your pet has previously been vaccinated against Rabies,
providing that you give a booster vaccination before it expires, you will not
have to observe the 21-day waiting period. In my friend’s case, we were able
to give Brussels a booster vaccination and they were able to travel two days
It is important that you have all the vaccinations and the necessary
documentation well in advance of travelling. For example, your pet must be
vaccinated against Rabies at least 21 days before travel.
She told me she was terribly nervous that they would take Brussels away at the
border, but Barry reassured her by making sure her paperwork was right ahead
of the journey and handled the border checks with ease.
So whilst it took some time to work out the best way to travel the final
solution turned out to be the simplest. Fly to Charles De Gaulle airport with
Air France and Barry from Pet Moves will pick you up from the terminal and
transport you, your pet and your luggage to the UK via Eurotunnel. Hope you
found this information helpful and it saves you time organising a flight to
the UK with your best friend!
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It
is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription,
or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional.
Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a
© 2013 Rachel Roodhardt
Cynthia Shriver on March 07, 2020:
Does anyone know the best way to GET FROM the United Kingdom to the US with a
cat in the cabin?
ClaireNewman on March 02, 2020:
In response to the post by Dawid Jakub Baranowski: I’m pretty sure that
British law is the problem. [The Post Office page you saw didn’t discuss
which country was being flown into, only airlines, which I think was very
misleading.] E.g. the Heathrow airport guide, which has clearly been updated
very recently (post-Brexit), states categorically that: “It is important to
remember that when flying a pet into the UK, it can only arrive as cargo. Some
airlines may offer animal transportation as excess baggage, but this does not
apply for arrival into the UK.” https://www.heathrow-airport-guide.co.uk/pet-
That website also notes that “Unlike other pets, assistance dogs are allowed
in the cabin of the aircraft.” The same may possibly apply to other assistance
animals, but those regulations have recently been tightened.
The UK government’s pages on pet travel show very clearly that the only way a
pet (except for trained assistance dogs; not sure about other emotional
support animals) can travel in the ‘cabin’ is by using a chartered plane:
And as I noted before, check this page:
to make sure you have all the paperwork needed.
majid on March 01, 2020:
how can i get contact information for barry i have the same situation to take
my dog to uk from canada thanks if anybody can provide me
Dawid Jakub Baranowski on January 18, 2020:
It seems that there indeed are airlines that DO allow small animals to travel
in the cabin – it appears the ‘ban’ has a lot more to do with individual
airline regulations than actual British law. I have found the following link
posted by the British Post Office:
Subsequently, a Lufthansa customer service representative has confirmed to me
that small animals are allowed in cabins on board flights to the UK.
Similarly, I contacted a friend who flew with KLM with no issue. I hope this
can be helpful!
ClaireNewman on October 24, 2019:
Replying to Karen: My cat didn’t have a passport but I just needed to have the
correct health paperwork. What wasn’t made clear by most websites, however,
was that (at least in the US) that paperwork needs to be inspected and stamped
by a USDA APHIS office within a certain number of days of travel, or you can’t
get on your flight departing from the states. See my original post lower down
(although I was flying from the US not Canada, and it was 19 months ago now,
so things may be different in your case).
Karen Carmichael on October 22, 2019:
My husband are moving back from Canada to UK in January 2020, this info is
fabulous but Canada doesn’t give passports, they give health certificate. Can
you get a passport when you get to France?
Rachel Roodhardt (author) from Folkestone, Kent on August 15, 2019:
Hi SarahC, Barry definitely has all the required paperwork. 🙂
SarahC on August 12, 2019:
And certainly the Pet Mover holds a licensed to carry out movement of persons
(taxi license) not!
sarahmgasca on December 03, 2018:
This article is such a life saver! I am just crossing my fingers anxiously
hoping we do our move and this goes smoothly before anything changes
(especially with Brexit on the horizon).
My husband and I are confirming our move to London for work. We have two cats
and I’m VERY stressed about putting them in cargo, especially one who is early
stage kidney failure and has a heart murmur. The vet was very concerned when I
told her about it looked like it would impossible to get her into the cabin. I
had wondered about flying into another country and found your article. I’ll be
contacting Pet Moves and Barry as soon as we have our move date (sometime in
martin on November 16, 2018:
All those arguing that your pet should be allowed in the aircraft cabin can I
ask you a question?
In the event of an emergency evacuation of the aircraft can you be trusted to
leave your pet behind and evacuate the aircraft without disrupting and/or
impeding the evacuation of your fellow passengers and the flight crew?
Most aircraft accidents occur at survivable speeds (for restrained passengers)
during take off or landing and the majority of deaths occur in the subsequent
You have no more than 90 seconds to fully evacuate the aircraft.
The cabin is likely already cluttered with cabin baggage and other debris,
injured and visibility and orientation may already be an issue.
jedmonds123 on October 06, 2018:
Thanks for your story – it’s very helpful as my wife and I are currently in
the same boat. We are travelling from Canada to the UK via France, so that we
can take them with us in the cabin for the flight. From there we are getting a
ride through the Eurotunnel from my awesome family.
My question is this – because we are technically entering the UK from an EU
country, will we require an EU Pet Passport? In Canada, vets do not issue Pet
Passports but instead give Vet Certificates. Either way it will have all the
same information for the UK border check, but did your friend manage to enter
the UK without the European document?
[email protected] on September 17, 2018:
Thanks for this. I am trying to bring my cat from Canada home to Scotland. The
UK rules are ridiculous if the pet is properly documented. So sad. Have
Karolina on May 31, 2018:
Stupid uK rules! Every dog to travel needs passport valid vaccinations
deworming and rest so how on earth you can spread rabies when just traveling
in the cabin?!! It can be checked same way as with cargo. Other island
countries doesn’thave this problem!
[email protected] on May 11, 2018:
P&O ferry from Rotterdam to Hull allows pets and is easy,,, forget the
airlines whatever they say on their website,,, especially the confused staff
Corey on April 04, 2018:
Is all paperwork checked in Paris? Or would it be checked upon entry into UK?
I saw this online (govt website) and makes it look like the tapeworm treatment
has to be entered by a EU doctor?!
After entering the EU, dogs subsequently traveling to the United Kingdom,
Ireland, Finland, Malta, or Norway will need to be treated for tapeworms by an
EU veterinarian within 1-5 days before entering those countries. The EU
veterinarian will add the tapeworm treatment information to the EU health
certificate issued in the United States. It is your responsibility to ensure
your pet meets the import requirements of each country you visit.
Ilse on March 31, 2018:
This confirms my worst fears and is super helpful! I need to travel with my
cat from the US to the UK (Edinburgh) and had until last night thought I could
take her in the cabin …only to have my heart sink as I researched all night
long …even for an ordinary cat or dog, cargo is dangerous. But she is a
rescue with a very delicate nature who is terrified of loud noises and humans
-she would not survive cargo.
The added flight and drive times will be a challenge for her, but if she can
stay with me the whole time I think she will be ok …I Will also look into
Delta from Paris to UK as mentioned by Simon …thank you again for this info!
Leah on March 15, 2018:
Thank you so much for sharing your research! We are in the process of moving
our family including our previous cat, Rufus, from Seattle to London. I really
did not want him to be separated from us during the flight so we will try to
follow your advice.
ClaireNewman on March 14, 2018:
Thanks very much for this article! I should preface the following by saying
that any of the rules or methods mentioned below may of course have changed
since we made our journey, so PLEASE don’t take them as guaranteed!
I recently took my 15-yr-old, 14+ pound cat to the UK from Los Angeles. I
chose Air France because they let me fly with him in the cabin internationally
to Paris CDG (unlike most American carriers it seems, in particular my usual
airline of choice, American Airlines). Rather than go with the more expensive
and complicated (in terms of advance booking etc.) pet chauffeur method, I
hired a rental car at CDG airport and drove to Calais, where I took the
Eurotunnel train to the UK. I chose Eurotunnel rather than a ferry because you
stay in the car with your pet and I didn’t want to leave my cat alone on the
deck of the car ferry if he was potentially sick after the plane ride / during
the ferry journey. I also paid more for a Flexi-Pass ticket that meant I could
drive onto the first train leaving, and I visited the “Pet Reception” on the
French side of things where my paperwork was speedily checked and approved,
hence no wait in the UK.
The only downside of not using a pet chauffeur service was that I had to
reverse my journey 10 days later to return the rental car to CDG before I flew
back to the US. However, I was planning to return there anyway to finish up
some arrangements before my temporary move to the UK, so that wasn’t a huge
issue for me. If I’d decided not to return, I could have driven it back and
then taken a flight back to the UK; a waste of a day, but acceptable in my
Air France were great – I didn’t make a big production of it, but I had my cat
(in the carrier of course) on my lap most of the flight, except for during
takeoff, landing, and meals, and no one had a problem with this. I was also
lucky in that my neighbor was a cat lover, but even if he hadn’t been the
carrier stayed on my side of the seating area and the cat wasn’t actually
visible at all unless you peered through the mesh. I also have to say the Mr
Peanuts [expandable] carrier was fantastic (very comfy for my cat apparently,
and its light weight also helped us stay under the 17 pound weight limit).
I hope this helps anyone needing to do the same thing in the near future. I
spent hours if not days researching the best approach on websites like this
one, so I wanted to pass on my experiences!
One more comment: the health certification stuff was a nightmare. For the UK
you need to get the certificate signed (by your vet) and endorsed (by the USDA
APHIS) within 10 days of your arrival in the UK, so I chose to go in person to
the USDA APHIS office in El Segundo (near LAX) in case there was a problem
with the certificate (mailing it to Sacramento had a fast turnaround time but
they couldn’t guarantee better than 2-3 days I think). Turns out I needed a
bilingual certificate (since I was traveling via France) and more importantly
my vet’s printer hadn’t printed out the strikethrough lines that are on the
form you download from the USDA APHIS website!! But after two trips there I
finally had the endorsed form. In that time I heard many other people’s
applications being refused also, for reasons ranging from the rabies shot
having been given before the microchipping (the latest rabies shot must have
been given after a microchip is in place) to the shot and chip having been
done less than 21 days ago, to the vet who signed the health certificate not
having their USDA certification up to date. So be warned!
[And for those in the LA area: you now need to make an appointment for the El
Segundo office before you go. Otherwise, best case scenario you’ll have a very
long wait, worst case they won’t see you.]
Jessie on October 01, 2017:
I am an American living in London and all of this sounds horribly familiar. I
ended up finding a loophole and making my dog an “emotional support animal”.
You can fly most US based airlines (and Norwegian!) using the letter from your
doc and the only fee is the airport reception center (£350). There is still
the hassle of the pet passport/vaccinations, but it’s by far the easiest way
to travel with a small pet to and from the US.
Also, wanted to comment on taking the ferry across the channel. My dog is old
and very anxious and did just fine staying in the car during the journey. All
of the cars with animals are kept on the same level of the ship and the whole
process was really easy. I’d recommend it for anyone traveling by car.
Kar on September 17, 2017:
What happens with travel on the way back from England to Paris?
ElleP on September 01, 2017:
Thank you this is really hepful!
GreenMind Guides from USA on February 02, 2017:
Strong article with good ideas for traveling with a pet. I would love to see
Simon on June 27, 2015:
Delta mistakenly allowed me to fly direct from the US to the UK with my 14 lb.
terrier mix in the cabin last year. Upon arrival in the UK there was quite a
bit of bother, but they, eventually, let me and my dog into the country, as it
was Delta’s fault for selling me the ticket (I had all relevant paperwork for
my dog). However, I had to change my return flight to the US from a direct
one, to one that first flew to continental Europe (in my case, Paris). I was
told by UK customs that it IS permitted to enter or leave the UK with an in-
cabin pet via Europe, but not direct from the US (go figure?).
Dalia on January 02, 2015:
Hi, I live in UK and travel a lot to visit my family in finland. this is
bother me every time, and its so expensive and time time consuming, and here
is the comparism:
travel from UK to European country:
1- your pet is in cabin with you ( no stress for both of us).
2- cost is 40 Euro only.
3- no paper work or documents required at booking time or arrival at the
airport ( except the pet passport with the vaccination required).
4- soft bag carrier ,which can be fold easily later.
on the other hand ( the exhausting UK process)
1- one day before travel, you need to go to the cargo to check and approve
your hard box, paying the amount of (400 Euro from helsinki airport) ( 1150
Euro from Charle de guale airport).
2- going 4 hours earlier on the travel day to deliver your pet.
3- on arrival to heathrow: going outside the airport ( taxi cost 40 GBP) to
4- paying 170 GBP to animal quarintine to do the paper work and logistics (
about 20-25 pages file ).
5- processing time for documents 1 hour.
6- waiting time to collect your pet ( 2-4 hours).
I hope we can do something for people like me ( frequent flyer with small size
pet) FYI i have a female maltese 2 kgs
Sophie on April 26, 2014:
This was extremely useful, thanks for posting it. As a bit of an anxious cat
mummy of two, I didn’t really want to be apart from my cats on such a long and
stressful journey. I don’t like the idea of dumping my cats in cargo, like a
suitcase. I’m worried if I did that, something terrible would happen, like the
temperature dropping dangerously low. Suitcases and clothes can be replaced,
my cats can’t!
Fábio on November 18, 2013:
Do you have any idea on how much your friend paid for the shuttle service?
Meredith on October 23, 2013:
I’m taking this route with my 2 cats in a few months. Barry sounds awesome,
and his prices are really reasonable when you compare them to the cost of
sending the pets as cargo!
I just had a question about the requirements to get the cats into Paris – is
there anything special we need to consider on that front? I already have the
details we need to get them into the UK, but just want to ensure there isn’t
anything more than that.
Thanks for the detailed article!
ReuVera from USA on May 23, 2013:
Great information! Who would know that it might be so complicated to fly a pet
to UK… I hope your article will help a lot of people to find a solution.
Claire on May 11, 2013:
What a very well informed article and one that I shall retuen to as I too have
small animals I may want to transport between countries.