Since I could not find very many resources online about taking pets abroad semi-permanently I decided to organize and summarize the information I found from the USDA/my vet/people I talked to who have done it in one place.
I have two cats that I adopted when I graduated college, Monster and Cupcake. And though I am not a crazy cat lady, it didn’t seem fair to give them away to a new home because work was taking us across the Atlantic.
The first step is to check if your pets are micro chipped, and that the micro chips are compliant with the readers in the UK. If not, they need to get microchipped ASAP. Since I adopted my cats from the Humane Society, they were microchipped when i brought them home.
The next step is determining which airline will work best for transporting them to your destination. I was told to avoid layovers, and luckily there is a direct flight on United which travels from Newark to Manchester. Newark isn’t ideal, but it could be worse. I was able to find a lot of the information about flying the cats in cargo here. I had to purchase special crates for the cats based their size/calculations of combinations of measurements. I ended up sizing the crate up just in case I misunderstood any of the measurements since they were close to the requirements of a medium crate. This is a pretty comprehensive overview and is the crate I ended up getting. Some airlines require special hardware that you have to purchase in addition to the crate. So look into it.
I then looked at the health requirements for pets per the UK import policies. Since they are being imported from a third country (not the EU) they don’t need a pet passport, just a certificate from the vet, stamped by the USDA. Here is the official UK website: https://www.gov.uk/take-pet-abroad/overview
Finding a USDA accredited veterinarian can be tough, since the USDA won’t provide a list for you. But they are out there. The pets have to have rabies shots at least 21 days before their date of travel. Once you book their travel they must have an exam by the approved veterinarian within 10 days of the flight. It is better to err on the side of caution and book this appointment as far out as you can while still being within the 10 days, since you THEN have to send the paperwork to your local USDA office to have it stamped and approved, which can take a few days. I overnighted the paperwork and paid to have it overnighted back to me to be safe. Some airlines do require additional paperwork.
Here are links to the USDA forms:
Since my pets will be flying into Manchester, we are also coordinating with Pets on Jets and PBS on the other end.
Please be aware that these requirements do not apply to commercial or assistance animals. Once they reach their destination, i will update on how all this went. I hear it is easier on the way back. 🙂