How to transport pets from the UK to Europe, dogs / cats Bookmark and Share

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Young Boy Traveling Down the Road with Dog
Young Traveler from Stock Photography

I’ve had a couple of questions from people who’ve found my blog on the internet, and asked how I transported my two dogs from the UK to Sweden. So here’s some information that will hopefully prove useful to others.

First of all, I did my research way in advance. Things change quite frequently with regard to which companies are offering what services from the UK to Sweden / Denmark and therefore you have to be on the ball. When I first started researching the process of transferring my two dogs from England to Sweden, there was a possibility of flying my little dog over actually in the cabin with me… but that was stopped. Then there was a period where I couldn’t fly the dogs directly over at all, either in the cabin or the cargo hold. I found an option where the dogs could go directly from the UK to Sweden via ferry – but that was stopped and the next best route was via Holland. So, if you’re considering moving pets, be warned, things can change, so keep checking and double checking your plans.

In the end, my two choices at the time of emigrating form the UK to Sweden in October 2009, were to ferry the dogs over from UK to Holland and then drive through Europe up to Sweden. Or fly them over in the belly of the plain just next to the cargo hold in a special area for pet transport on a SAS flight from Manchester to Copenhagen, Denmark.

Each option had it’s own advantages and disadvantages. The ferry option would’ve meant the dogs could be with me all the time in the car journey, and I could have visited them in their crates during the long ferry ride between ports. The noise was likely to have been less from the ferry than it would be of the jet engines, and probably less ‘bumps’ with a smoother slower ride. However, the flight option would’ve been much quicker overall. Instead of the two days long drawn out process of driving and ferrying, the flight option end to end would’ve been just a few hours, much of which I could be with the dogs in the car journey from / to the airports at each end. Okay it may have been a little noisier and less bumpy on the plane, but, at least the flight was only 1hour 45 minutes, from Manchester to Copenhagen, so it’s a short sharp shock as opposed to a long winded constant upset for the dogs on a ferry. The flight also had the advantage that because it was a relatively short period for the dogs, I could take them or a long long walk in the morning and tire them out, then transport them to Sweden, and then take them for a long walk in the evening to shake off the few hours of stress and boredom of being caged that day. All in all, two walks in one day and hopefully a good nights sleep with little to worry about after that.


As well as the dogs well-being, I considered the cost of the transportation too. The actual travel costs for the two dogs was quite surprising. I assumed that ferrying them would be much cheaper than flying, but, as it turned out, the ferry plus the car fuel to drive through Europe from Holland to Sweden, started to look more expensive than the cost of flying the dogs over including my own plane ticket. Both options were going to be expensive (aprox £1000 including two passengers, two dogs, vet fees etc) so there was little to choose from here. The vet fees including essential treatment for the Pet Passport (see below) which include Rabies jabs and blood tests, pet microchip, vet administered worming tablets, and a health checkup before travel, plus the actual cost of the Pet Passport document). I can’t remember exactly, but the vet fees with probably add up to around £100 – £150 per dog by the time you’re finished.

Approved International Pet Transport Crates

Another additional cost lies in the need for your pet to travel safely. Dogs and cats are required to be transported in approved crates. You’ll find these are generally a little more expensive than other crates, but, they are pretty safe and the only way to transport your pets abroad. I paid around £45 and £75 for my two sizes. You can get decent approved cages from Look for Sky Vari crates. I strongly recommend purchasing from Doggie Solutions because they will ensure the cage is the correct size for your dog/cat and you can order online with very speedy delivery. There are strict rules on exactly how long, wide, and height the approved crate must be for your particular dog’s requirements, Doggie Solutions will check with you to ensure you’ve picked the correct one. They’re also one of the cheapest on the market, but very good quality.


PETS scheme

PET Passports Scheme


Finally, the practicality of getting the dogs over to Sweden. This is again something you have to check regularly for changes. Thankfully to make the process a little easier, the Pet Passport (PETS) scheme has been agreed within Europe. This essentially means that participating countries (here’s a list of participating countries) agree to a set of rules and vaccinations for dogs and cats before travel, thus avoiding the need to put them in quarantine at their destination. For more information on PETS, go to Defra’s website:

You might also find some useful general information on the scheme from the Direct Gov website.

The requirements for the PETS scheme change depending on which country your pet will fly to and from. In my case, from the UK to Denmark, then over the bridge by car to Sweden meant that I had to check the rules and regulations for travel from UK to Denmark. Then, check the rules from pets traveling from Denmark in to Sweden. Thankfullly, they’re not to bad. My dogs were required to have rabies injections and blood tests to ensure the jab had worked, then have vet administered worming tablets and a health checkup. I also asked the vet to administer their Frontline flee and tick treatment before the journey too, because at some time, there was confusion over whether this was needed or not. So to be safe I had it done and stamped on the dogs passports. Always check with the PETS website, and then call the necessary people in Denmark / Sweden before traveling to make sure.

My chosen route

I decided to go for the quickest option, to get my dogs in Sweden as quick as possible, to minimise the potential length of their stress and disruption, so I chose to fly from my nearest airport, Manchester, and use SAS (Scandinavian Airlines). The advantage here was that I could use SAS Cargo to arrange the transportation of my dogs, and then book the exact same flight for myself as a passenger to fly over. Knowing that my dogs would be on the same plane, and could be collected at the other end in person gave me a little more reassurance that they’d be OK.

The process was, book my dog’s flight over the telephone (which had to be a weekday morning flight) with SAS Cargo. Then purchase tickets from the normal SAS websites for my own journey on the same flight. 3 hours before the flight, take the dogs to the freight agent (in my case this was MENZIES CARGO) at the Manchester Cargo terminal just one junction up the M56 from the normal passenger terminals. There was a car park to walk the dogs for final toilet requirements, and then I provided the pet passports, money (around £650), and dogs to the agent at around 7.30am.

Circled in red, my dogs about to be loaded onto the plane

Circled in red, my dogs about to be loaded onto the plane

Then I took a taxi down to the passenger terminal, and checked onto the same flight as my dogs. Upon waiting at the departure lounge, I saw the baggage for my flight being loaded on to the plane, but, also attached to the back was another trailer, which upon closure inspection had my two dogs on board.

I felt really good knowing the dogs had actually made it on to the same plane I was about to board. And I could see how carefully the baggage handlers were with the crates.

Dogs being loaded on to the plane for Europe

Dogs being loaded on to the plane for Europe

They carried the them with two men, very gently loaded them in to the belly of the plane, near the front. I assumed the dogs would be quite startled, but, I knew that they’d been up since 4am, and walked for over an hour to make them physically tired as well as mentally quite tired from the upheaval… so I hoped they would sleep on the plane.

Upon arrival in Denmark, after getting my own luggage, I arranged for a lift to the cargo agent, Spirit Handling. A free bus service is available too. After showing my documents, paying a handling fee of around £50, my dogs were brought out in the their cages and I could let them out to play on the car park.

All in all, they had been apart from me for about 5 hours. Which isn’t ideal, but I felt that it was better to do that, than put them through two days of being crated whilst I drove and ferried them over.

The surprising thing was that, I was told by Swedish customs I’d have to go to the ‘Red Point’ when I traveled over the bridge between Copenhagen and Malmö for my Pet Passport and dogs to be checked. However, upon arrival, it turned out they didn’t have anyone free to see me, so I just called a phone number which was left at the reception desk, where I quote my pet passport number, and they sent me on my way. A bit of a waste of time really. But hey ho, the dogs were in Sweden – their final destination.

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Comments (13)


  1. Jayne Read says:

    Hiya, ive just come across your blog and found it very interesting, a friend and me are trying to transport 2 cats from Umea, Sweden to the UK in Feb 2010 and are having so much difficulty, we got in touch with a company called Scandi Pet but they wanted around £1400 per cat just for transport from Stockholm to Heathrow airport, Please could give us any ideas as to how we could do the trip? Kind Regards Jayne Xx

  2. admin says:

    Hi, I suggest you contact SAS Cargo directly…

    They should be able to assist you with providing the detailed information about how to book your two cats on to a SAS flight direct to the UK, in the pet hold at the front of the plane. You will then be able to book the same passenger flight and travel ‘with them’ on the same plane into the UK. There are usually some conditions, like only available during weekdays on morning flights, and only from certain airports that are equipped to deal with pets. Once you have the detailed information from SAS Cargo (which will include an estimate price, day of travel, and the name and phone number of the cargo agents in the UK who will off-load the cats from the plane), then I suggest you contact the destination airport and agency directly in the UK. Ask to speak with them to find out what the process is once you arrive in the UK. Most likely, your cats will be offloaded and sent to the cargo agency at the freight terminal of that airport. You will then have to go from the passenger terminal to the freight terminal (usually a taxi or bus ride away) and provide your papers to collect the cats from them. There could be a handling fee to pay to the UK agency too, so please check this.

    You will also need to make sure your cats have a Pet Passport for travel within Europe. This can be a long process, so start early! Some of the vaccinations may be required months before travel. There’s a link to the PETS scheme on my blog post, which maybe of help. If in doubt, phone them directly and discuss your travel arrangements (from where to where) and make sure you write down exactly what vaccinations and treatments are required for your circumstances. It is likely your veterinary surgery will not know this! It’s therefore down to you to find out, and tell the veterinarian which treatments you want him/her to administer. Make sure they fill in the Pet Passport and stamp it. Otherwise your cats will be refused entry to the UK.

    It is important that your cats have a suitable crate to travel in too. SAS cargo should be able to inform you on the rules they apply when sending cats (such as size of crate, having two cats in the same crate or not, etc). A good pet shop I know of is;
    Jäger Zoo AB
    Jägersrov. 205
    213 77 MALMÖ
    Tel: 040 – 22 05 95

    They should be able to assist you with the purchase of a good quality crate, they’re exceptionally helpful.

    Best of luck! Let us know how you got on…

    Har det bra!

  3. Mikaela says:


    Guess my answer is a bit late now since you said you were going in Feb..
    But anyway, I transported my 2 cats from stockholm to Edinburgh in Oct 2009, which truly was a mission impossible from start to end. I don’t recommend anyone to bring their pets between UK and Sweden unless they really must.

    To import cats to UK the cats need to have a passport with chip, rabies vaccination, be castrated, ticks and worm vaccination plus health documentation 24h before departure.

    It takes about 9 months to plan all this since both UK and Sweden have special rules to the EU :S. In Swe you take the 1st rabies shoot, wait for 1 month, take the 2nd one and then wait 120 days for the blood sample. When the blood sample is taken you wait about 10 days for result. Once you receive the results, you need to wait 6 months to be able to enter the UK. So if you start 1st Jan, you can enter around 1st Nov :S.

    Both SAS cargo and KLM, who are the only ones who are allowed to transport cats to UK, they charge an insane price, around £1400 per cage. Since I don’t believe in stupidity, me and my dad drove from Stockholm to Esbjerg in Denmark, where we took the ferry to Harwich, England. We then drove the final route up to Edinburgh, Scotland. The whole trip took 44h and costed us around £800.

    Hope this help you and other people!
    The best,

  4. Janet says:

    This was interesting – I wish I had read it 2 years ago when I moved my dog here ! 🙂 I actually chose the same method – by SAS air to Gothenburg. Now I am travelling back and my dog is older… I hope you don’t mind if I ask a question of any readers here:
    I am hoping to travel to the UK from Sweden in September – 2 people and a dog. I am very interested in the ferry crossing to Immingham ( OR Tilbury) as I am not keen on putting my (happy and healthy) 16 year old dog in a box to be sent by plane, but so far this has seemed to be the only option. Enquiries with the ferry company from Ejsberg to Harwich suggested that I would only be able to take the dog out of the vehicle or visit him for 5 minutes twice in an 18 hour journey…
    I would be really grateful for any advice or suggestions anyone might have on the ferry/driving option, particularly anyone who has travelled with a dog. I am also not clear on what is involved with crossing country borders by car. He has a full pet passport, rabies vaccination certificate and will meet all required DEFRA criteria – but what about in between ?

  5. Craig says:

    Hi all,

    I am currently going through the process of emigrating to Canada from the UK and I’m taking all 5 of my dogs with me. You can no longer book directly with the airline as the airlines are no longer licensed to deal directly with individuals booking for your pet and you have to go through a DEFRA, IATA and IPATA registered pet travel company (I am using Animal Airlines). I also looked into other options like ferries and such but decided with flying purely due to the amount of time it would have taken to get the ferry and then drive for 3 days! So the 8 and a half hours on the plane didn’t seem so bad. Also my dogs are all used to being in a crate. This is something I would HIGHLY reccomend you introduce to your pet as soon as possible. It makes their experience as least stressful as possible. I have been putting my dogs in their crates in a dark room and playing aircraft sounds on a loop for the past week and will be doing it for the next 3 weeks before travel at least twice a week. I started with only 1/2 an hour in the dark with no noise and built it up from there. A good idea is also to leave the house when you are comfortable that your pet is ok with the crate, that way it makes it as ‘real’ as possible, also living near the airport I have been walking them as close as I can get to it to get them used to the sounds there as well. However if your pet isn’t used to a crate at all which is the case with most I would start much much earlier with your crate training, maybe up 6 months in advance just putting them in the crate for short periods of time with you there and not in the dark at first. As you can probably tell my worst fear was the stress that my dogs will go through. I have done a lot of research into it and found there isn’t that much out there other than warnings not to sedate your pet in ANY way, which I fully agree with. If you sedate your pet it doesn’t reduce its stress levels, it removes your pets energy to be able to deal with those stress levels and lowers your dogs blood pressure which also is done by the pressurized cargo hold, which greatly increases the chance of death. When you hear of dogs ‘freezing’ to death on planes it is often not due to temperature but due to the stress and their inability to deal with it when sedated that causes symptoms similar to hypothermia and shock. So I would highly recommend NOT sedating, airlines and pet carriers will not allow you to travel anyway if they know/suspect your pet is sedated. However you can get some remedies that can help your pet relax such as pheromone sprays and ointments that you put on the crate bedding. With regards to documentation I was lucky as I already have them all with Pet passports (the pet scheme through DEFRA) as I have taken them to europe via the channel tunnel previously, and kept them up to date since with their rabies etc. Which is all canada require, also if you are leaving the UK it is most likely that you don’t have to wait the 6 months before travel if you aren’t coming back like me. The 6 month period after a good blood test result is to re-enter the UK and as the UK is rabies free the 6 month period isn’t in place to enter other countries. However the passport with the rabies jab is compulsory so the passport is still required. Also each countries requirements differ somewhat so I would still check through DEFRAs website the entry requirements for your relevant one. Also, if I go back to crates for just a moment, your pet agent should be able to provide your crate a couple of weeks in advance and you can either just meet them at the airport on the day or have them deliver it to you before, obviously I would suggest this as it will most likely be made from wood and most cages from pet stores are most popular metal or plastic so get your pet acclimatised to its actual travel crate as soon as possible. If you speak with your pet travel agent they can tell you of approved pet air travel crates that your could purchase yourself way in advance which would most likely be plastic, but I wouldn’t recommend these as they are not tailor made nor are they as strong. Also make sure your pet is comfortable being near strangers, they will see quite a few being loaded onto the aircraft. So to finish top tips would be;

    Prepare in advance


    Acclimatise and socialise your pet

    Don’t sedate

    And make it all as positive as possible for your pet. Praise and reward!

    I hope this was useful!


  6. jean says:


  7. Anette says:

    I got a 6 year old labrador and living in England.
    I will soon move back to Sweden and take my dog whit me, any suggestions what i need to do

  8. Andie says:

    What we did to bring our dog into the UK (will do the same to take him back out) was we flew him in the cabin to Paris and then we drove via the channel tunnel to the UK.

    Remember that throughout Europe the pet can fly in the cabin, provided they’re under 8kg in weight, it’s just the getting in and out the UK that’s the issue.

  9. Ann says:

    So glad I found your report. Really helpful as we are doing the reverse. This is our second dog from Sweden last time we did the ferry but I think the plane sounds much easier and less stressful for all concerned. Also; I hadn’t thought about going via Copenhagen. Sounds good to me. Manchester will be closer. We only thought of LHR.

    Thanks again. All in all very informative.

  10. Rhyl Jones says:

    SAS will fly your pet dog with you from Sweden (Umea) to Brussels (via Stockholm Arlanda) for €60. All you need to do then (provided the pet passport and Rabies jabs are up to date) is get the tick and flea treatment from a local Belgian Vet within the 48hr -24hr period prior to driving through the chunnel or sailing on Norfolklines from Dunkirk. Clearly if you are travelling on the same flight as the dog you will have to hire a car for the final leg of the journey from Belgium to UK but I’m pretty sure Europecar do a drop off service.

  11. Linda says:

    I flew my cat Bambina to Sweden in July 2011 and though I’d share with you my experience as it might save you some time.
    First of all there are only two carries you can choose from between Sweden and the UK: BA and Scandinavian (SAS). I choose SAS as they were the cheapest at £273. Also you can only fly from Heathrow as it’s the only airport that can handle live animals.
    As the carrier can only take one animal per flight it is important you book as soon as possible.
    So you call SAS Cargo in the UK to check availability. Then you email them your confirmation together with your pet’s weight (including pet carrier)
    Oh you need to get an airline-approved carrier. I got mine from Vari Kennel for about £50. They delivered to my door and I was very happy with it.
    I accustomed Bambina to the carrier though leaving sweets and her favourite bedding in it, putting her in for short periods, carrying her about etc. I also bough the Feliway spray but B hated it. However this spray is said to work, and also catnip might be good.
    Next you need to get a Pet Passport. When I travelled (July 2011) the only requirement was that your cat has a microchip or a tattoo. NO other jabs or quarantine or anything are required if you go straight from the UK to Sweden.
    So you need to take your pet to the vet where they will scan the chip, put details of it in the passport together with your details. Then you’re good to go – NOTHING else is needed. However my vet ensured me the airline would require a so-called Fit-for-travel certificate (to be done within 24 hours of flight) so I had to take B back for that. When I checked with SAS though they said they to NOT require that. All that’s needed it the pet passport with your details and details of microchip written in it by the vet.
    The day of the flight we set off for LHR early. It took forever to find the Cargo area and the airport areas it huge – so make sure you have plenty of time.
    At the Cargo area you have to find the office of Plane Handling Ltd, which takes care of SAS’s cargo. Go to the office and get a number. Then you have to wait (could take some time) in the car until your number is showing on a big display. Then you drive in to the bay and drop off your pet. So to do this you’ll need a car – however I was in a minicab and it was fine.
    Also remember the airline requires your pet has access to water (your airline-approved carrier will have a container attached to it) so bring some water for it.
    Next I got the cab to take me to the terminal and checked in as normal.
    Your pet will be put in the hold (you can’t bring it in the cabin) in a special pet compartment with the same temperature, noise level and pressure as the cabin (I was told anyway!). I asked the stewardesses to go down and make sure B was OK, which they kindly did. Over all the SAS personnel was great.
    When you arrive at Arlanda you need to drive (again you need a car) to Customs some distance away from the terminal. There you need to leave the car in the parking lot and walk in to Customs as you need to go though the same security checks as if you were to board a plane. At Customs I paid a handling fee of about SEK1500 (£140) and got a piece of paper. Then you need to drive to Boarder Police (miles away and very tricky to find) and get a stamp on this piece of paper (took about 20 seconds). Then drive all the way back to Customs, go though security, hand the paper over and finally you’ll get your darling back.
    B looked ruffled but not too bad. We drove to a quiet spot where I took her out in a harness. By this time she was as cool as a cucumber, happily laying in the grass, and I felt the trip had gone really well.
    It’s not a pleasant experience for your cat – but over all it was well worth it.
    The costs are not too high: about £270 for the flight + £140 handling fee + vet, taxies, pet carrier etc.
    B is now living out her days (she was 14 years old at transit) in the Swedish countryside – what could be better?
    Good luck with your own trips.

  12. elin says:

    hi! i need to book a flight for my dog from london to gothenburg in sweden. does anyone know what phone number i need to call to make the booking? havent been able to find it on sas cargo’s website.

    thank you so much! elin.

  13. Matt says:

    I was referred to ScandiPet by a reputable Swedish breeder. The services and communication are generally good. The pricing, however, is pretty close to highway robbery. I shipped two puppies from Sweden to Newark, NJ. I was charged 9400 SEK for a 4800 SEK flight (fees included) and billed 3400 SEK for 2 crates that don’t cost more than 1,000 SEK. The pups could have gone into one crate; both the breeder and I requested this for the pups’ comfort.
    I paid a more reasonable 500 SEK per hour for pickup services and a near incredible 2,000 SEK for a vet to say the pups aren’t sick and issue a certificate for flying (something my personal vet does for free). The total price to ship 2 pups from Sweden to Newark was 17,800 SEK – about $2,700 dollars.
    In the end, I could have bought plane tickets to Sweden, rented a car, picked up the pups, bought the crates, and shipped them myself and saved about a thousand dollars. I am very disappointed that ScandiPet misrepresented the cost of the flight with a ~100% markup. If I didn’t have the recommendation of the breeder, I would have double checked behind them. Learn from my mistakes!

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