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Expats Relocating with Families and Pets in the United Kingdom

Submitted: August 2013

Relocation with Families

If you are considering relocating to the UK with your family,  it is a good idea to plan well in advance as it can be a lengthy process to get the paperwork sorted for all family members.

First of all, you should familiarise yourself with the immigration regulations for moving to UK with dependants. There are no bureaucratic obstacles for European citizens to relocate with families. However, for non-European citizens, the regulations differ depending on your and your dependant’s nationality, age, qualifications and type of visa you are applying for. In certain cases, individual family members have to file separate visa applications which means that the application process might not be completed at the same time for all family members, or, in the worst case, that certain family members might not get permission to move.  You can get further information at Immigration - Family Members and Marriage for Expats as well as UKBA – Bringing your Family.

If you are moving with children, it is also essential to look into good childcare and schooling options. Bear in mind that there can be long waiting lists for kindergartens and schools in the UK and that certain schools have entrance exams. It is therefore a good idea to plan ahead and submit applications prior to relocation. The British Government provides a useful online platform where you can search for schools in different areas of the UK and read school performance reports. The platform is available at Schools Finder. If you are considering enrolling your child in an international school, have a look at the Telegraph’s International Schools search tool. To read more about the British schooling system in general, see: EDUCATION.

The UK is generally a safe place to live. However, it is advisable to check the crime rates in selected areas and find the most child-friendly locations. If you are not familiar with the area you wish to relocate to, it is recommendable to have a look at the local council sites which include advice on local schooling, childcare and children’s activities in the area. For other recommendations on family life in the UK, have a look at Family Life and Childcare for Expats.

Relocation with Pets

When relocating to the UK with your pet, you will have to obtain the necessary documentation and ensure that your pet meets all the requirements set out by the UK Pet Travel Scheme (PETS). If the UK Border Agency finds that your pet does not meet the rules and regulations, it will be put in quarantine or sent back to the country it travelled from at your expense.

If you are relocating to the UK with your pet dog, cat or ferret, your pet will generally have to have:

It is important to note that your pet must get the microchip before getting the rabies vaccination. If you come from the EU or from a listed non-EU country, you will have to wait for at least 21 days after the rabies vaccination before you can enter the UK with your pet. If you come from a non-EU and non-listed country, your pet will have to have a blood sample taken 30 days after the rabies vaccination and you will have to wait another 3 calendar months from the day when the sample was taken before your pet can enter the UK.

Note also that you may only bring animals into UK by using one of the approved travel routes and carriers, see the Gov.Uk Website on Routes and Transport Companies. If you do not accompany your pet during the transfer, you must also sign a Declaration of owner not accompanying its pet during its journey which will travel with your pet.

When travelling with other pets, such as rodents, rabbits, birds, fish, invertebrates, amphibians and reptiles, there are generally no restrictions for EU citizens. Pets travelling to the UK from non-EU countries will have to spend 4 months in quarantine and may also need a rabies import licence.

You can read more on the Pet Travel Scheme at: https://www.gov.uk/pet-travel-information-for-pet-owners. Those travelling with assistance dogs should have a look at: https://www.gov.uk/pet-travel-travelling-with-assistance-dogs.

For further information contact the Pet Travel Scheme helpline at pettravel@ahvla.gsi.gov.uk or at 0870 241 1710 Mon-Fri from 8am to 6pm.



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