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Pet Import Requirements for Northern Ireland

Before you begin planning your travel to Northern Ireland one very important question needs to be answered and that is, if your pet is a dog, whether the breed of your furry friend is allowed in the country in the first place. While it may seem odd, many countries including Northern Ireland ban or restrict certain breeds. Breeds restricted or banned from entry into Northern Ireland include: 

Brazilian Fila, Dogo Argentino, Japanese Tosa Inu or American Staffordshire Pit Bull Terrier.

If you have a wolf hybrid or Savannah cat, then you must seek advice from the Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency before you travel.

Once you know that your pet is allowed in Northern Ireland, here’s what you’ll need to do:


Contact your Vet

The first step is always to contact your vet to ensure your pet is safe to travel.  Some breeds of dogs and cats should not fly and are not accepted on most airlines.  Your local vet can also assist you with the process, paperwork, and vaccinations necessary for international travel. 



Northern Ireland, like most EU countries, accepts two types of identification, microchip and tattoo, however there are some restrictions. 

A microchip that meets the International Standards Organization (ISO) requirements is valid for Northern Ireland as well as all EU countries. Microchips available in the US may not be up to the same standards and if it isn’t the microchip scanners won’t be able to read it on your arrival. In this case you’ll need to bring a scanner that reads your specific type of chip.

Tattoos given prior to July 3, 2011 that are clearly visible are accepted for identification in Northern Ireland. As long as your pet's current rabies vaccination was administered after the tattoo was applied.


Vaccination Requirements:  

If your pet has a microchip:

Your pet’s rabies vaccination must have been given after the microchip has been implanted and at least 21 days prior to travel, and must have been given after 3 months of age. This requirement is meant to prevent the movement of puppies and kittens who have been vaccinated too young in an effort to comply with regulations. The vaccination must be current and be within the expiration dates of the vaccine. There is no additional waiting period for subsequent visits provided rabies boosters are kept up to date and the other entry requirements are met.

If your pet does NOT have a microchip or valid tattoo:

Your pet will need to be vaccinated again after the microchip is implanted and wait 21 days before travel.


Other Vaccinations

If your pet is entering Northern Ireland from a high-rabies country, they will have to undergo a Blood Titer Test. This test must be conducted at least 30 days after they have been vaccinated. Assuming acceptable results of the test conducted by an approved laboratory, your pet must wait 90 days from the date the blood was drawn to enter Northern Ireland to avoid quarantine. Northern Ireland will allow your pet to enter prior to 3 calendar months, but your pet will be quarantined for the balance of time required to fulfill the 3 months.

Dogs traveling to Northern Ireland must be treated against certain tapeworms between one and five days prior to entering the country unless your pet is entering directly from Finland, Ireland, Malta or Norway.


Certifications and other paperwork

If you are traveling with your pet:

From Outside the European Union (EU)

In order for your pet to travel to Northern Ireland, you must have an Annex IV form for Northern Ireland completed by an accredited veterinarian within 10 days of entry.  The procedures to obtain an Annex IV certificate may vary by country of origin. 

From another EU Member State

Assuming that all identification and vaccination requirements identified above are met, an update to your pet’s EU Passport is all that is required. The only exception would be if they have received a rabies booster from a veterinarian outside the EU after the microchip was implanted.

Everyone entering Northern Ireland with a pet is required to sign a declaration of Non-Commercial Transport indicating that your pet's trip is not for the purposes of their sale or transfer of ownership.

 If your pet is traveling alone:

From a non EU Member State:

Northern Ireland requires an Annex I form for Northern Ireland be completed by a licensed veterinarian within 48 hours of entry. If your pet is traveling from the United States or Canada, the veterinarian must be accredited by the USDA or CFIA respectively and the Annex I form must be endorsed by the local USDA (United States) or CFIA (Canada) office. The procedure for obtaining an Annex I form may vary by country so be sure to verify in your originating country.

Unaccompanied pets arriving in Northern Ireland can only enter via an approved Border Inspection Post (BIP) at the international airport in either London Heathrow or Gatwick, and you must notify the airport at least 24 hours prior to arrival. 

Unaccompanied pets are only permitted to enter Northern Ireland from a high-rabies country when traveling with or within 5 days of their owners or their owner's representative.

From another EU Member State:

If your pet is traveling to Northern Ireland alone from another EU country, just have your veterinarian update your pet’s EU Pet Passport.  Use of company licensed for pet import/export that is registered with the governing authority in your EU country is necessary. Your pet must be accompanied by an Intra Trade Animal Health Certificate (ITAHC) completed within 48 hours of entry.


Young Pets

For puppies and kittens arriving from EU Member States or rabies-controlled countries, they must be microchipped, rabies vaccinations must have been administered at an age of at least 3 months and they are not allowed to enter Northern Ireland for at least 21 days after being vaccinated.

Unvaccinated puppies, kittens and ferrets are not permitted to enter Northern Ireland.


Other Animals  

Other categories of pets such as, tropical fish, reptiles, amphibians, small mammals such as guinea pigs and rabbits are not subject to requirements of rabies vaccination but should have a health certificate to enter Northern Ireland. 

All rodents and rabbits entering from non-EU rabies controlled country will be quarantined for 4 months.

Some other pets including parrots and turtles are protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).   You will need to apply for additional permits if this is the case.  


Flying with Birds

Always check with your airline well in advance of your trip to understand its bird travel policy. Not all "pet-friendly" airlines permit birds. If they do, it's important you find out about various restrictions, such as whether birds are allowed in the cabin, carrier size, bird size, species, etc.

  • If you are planning to fly internationally with your pet bird, you may find out that only cargo storage is acceptable. Even then, there may be restrictions on how many hours birds are allowed to stay in the cargo area.
  • As with other pets, be sure to obtain a necessary health certificate no more than 10 days prior to your flight and carry with you all important papers regarding your pet bird.
  • It's a good idea to have your bird banded when flying internationally.
  • Bottom line is to make sure your pet bird is comfortable when traveling by air, with plenty of room to move around in a travel cage, while still conforming to the airline's pet travel policies.


Airport Arrivals in Northern Ireland

Pets must travel as checked baggage or cargo when entering Northern Ireland unless they are certified service or emotional support animals.

Pet owners accompanying their pets can bring their animals from abroad as checked baggage directly into Northern Ireland through London. However travel within the British Isles does not have any route restriction.

Pets traveling unaccompanied from outside the EU can clear customs at Edinburgh, London Heathrow or Gatwick Airports

It is recommended that pets enter Northern Ireland directly or through another EU Member State to avoid disruptions at the airport. However, if that is not possible and your pet has a layover in a high-rabies country, you will be required to have a Transit Declaration indicating that your pet has had no contact with rabies-carrying animals and remained secured within the airplane or airport.

 If your pet shows signs of any disease that may be communicable to humans when examined at the port of entry to Northern Ireland. They may be subject to further examination by a licensed veterinarian at your expense. This could result in quarantine or your pet not being allowed into Northern Ireland at all.


Have additional questions?

Check out the United States Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS)  website for more information about pet travel to Northern Ireland and other countries.


Managing the rules and regulations for importing pets into the many countries across the globe can be difficult. Not only because they can and do change frequently but also because it's hard to accurately say how enthusiastically a given country will chose to enforce the regulations or what the consequences of non-compliance might be. We attempt to ensure that the information provided here reflect current regulations but we strongly recommend that you verify the rules for the country you are visiting to avoid situations that could spoil the trip for you and your pet.


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