Oh man, England has been the toughest country to figure out how to fly into. Because it’s technically an island, England has strict laws and no dog can enter the country IN-CABIN. Only cargo, underneath the plane. Well, that’s tricky for me because french bulldogs are also banned from being in cargo. So, another adventure ensues… if you have a snub-nosed breed you need to fly into a country in the EU (France, for example) and travel to England on the channel/ferry. Our friends Coco + Elle did it and explain the process in this post (click here). We will also be doing it next Spring–we’ll fly into Paris and most likely rent a car or do a rideshare. Eurostar does not allow dogs on train.
But for those dogs who are not brachycephalic (flat-nose) breeds and can go in cargo, you can fly directly from US to England.
Coco moved to London from NYC so keep reading for her tips and what to do.
Preparing your dog for international travel can be stressful on you and your dog, but if you are even considering doing it, start your research. England requires a microchip, rabies certificate in blue ink by the administering vet and get a tapeworm treatment within five days of flying. Being a rabies-free country, the U.K. government has to pre-approve your dog’s paperwork. You will also have to pay a landing fee, which was £366 as of April 2017.
All of the paperwork must be stamped by the USDA. They used to allow this at JFK, but have now passed that responsibility on to Albany. Fortunately for me, once we moved to the UK, I had all the paperwork necessary for Elle to get a Pet Passport, (which can only be issued in the U.K. and E.U.), so I no longer have to fill out an inch worth of paperwork or go to Albany.
While paperwork can be a headache on the way to England, it is a huge advantage for how easy it is to take your dog to the US.
The US requires a “fit to fly” certificate from the vet coming from the U.K. They will also inspect your dog’s pet passport, which lists all the relevant rabies vaccinations history. New York’s JFK has a green potty space that could be slightly closer to the terminal exit, but it close enough. I keep poop bags tucked in Elle’s dog carrier, a bowl and food for when we exit. I also try to book a flight that looks less full (better chance to get an empty seat next to you!) and a red eye, so she doesn’t have to miss a meal time.
I suggest booking a flight with a U.S. owned airline when traveling to or from London. They are used to having dogs. Do the leg work. No matter how many articles you read, it is up to you to research their pet policy. Confused? Pick up the phone. Most U.S. operated carriers allow you to bring a dog up to 20 pounds. List of airlines that allow dogs in-cargo to London here.
It is a mystery to me why you have to call an airline after booking an international flight to make sure there is room for your dog on the plane, but if you ring them first you can check on it in advance of booking. Again, most airlines have a limit on how many dogs they can accommodate on the plane. You will need a dog carrier for your pet to travel. Fortunately when you arrive in London, you will find dogs do not have to be in carriers on public transport, however you will have to hold them on escalators. [This post contains affiliate links.]
If your dog is not used to being in a carrier, start practicing. Testing how your pet does on a shorter flight to start is a good way to get them comfortable. Although a dog carrier and airplane seat may seem a small space for a dog, don’t forget they like the cave feeling and feel cozy and safe.