Customs and import to London


When entering the UK there are three "channels" for customs processing.

  1. If you arrive from another EU country, whatever passport you hold, choose the Blue Channel for nothing to declare.
  2. Arriving from outside the EU, choose the Green Channel.
  3. If you have goods to declare, choose the Red Channel.

This is a honor system. Spot checks can occur in the Green or Blue Channels, but happen infrequently. However, if you are caught the penalties are severe.

    Permissible Imports for non-EU citizens:
  • Tobacco products - 200 cigarettes or 100 cigarillos or 50 cigars or 250 grams of tobacco
  • Alcohol - 1 liter of spirits over 22 % vol. or 2 liters of fortified wine or sparkling wine 2 liters of still wine or 16 liters of beer
  • Perfume - 50 Grams
  • Eau de toilette - 250 ml
  • Currency over 10,000 euro - (or its equivalent in other currencies)
  • Other goods- Up to a value of 430 Euro (150 euro for individuals under 15)
    Additional Permissible Imports for EU citizens:
  • Tobacco products - 800 cigarettes, 400 cigarillos (max. 3g each), 200 cigars and 1kg of smoking tobacco
  • Alcohol - 10 liters of spirits over 22% and ethyl alcohol, 20 liters of alcoholic beverages less than 22%, 90 liters of wine (though no more than 60 liters of sparkling wine) and 110 liters of beer
    Restricted Imports (requiring a special license):
  • Firearms
  • Radio transmitters
  • Endangered species or certain plants
  • Drugs
  • Explosive Material
  • Currency over 10,000 euros
    Prohibited Items:
  • Unlicensed drugs
  • Offensive weapons
  • Child pornography
  • Pornographic material
  • Counterfeit and pirated goods
  • Meat, milk and other animal products


If you want to bring your pet to the UK, it can be done but takes planning and preparation. Taking your pet into another country usually includes:

  • Microchiping - to verify pets identity. All microchips conforming to the ISO standards are easily readable.
  • Vaccination - Vaccinations range from country to country, but in general every pet older than 3 months must be vaccinated against rabies. The vaccination must be administered at least 21 days before arrival. However the vaccination cannot be older than 12 months from the date of arrival. Dogs may also get full shots for Distemper, Hepatitis, Leptospirosis, Parvo, and DHLPP. Cats may also be vaccinated against Viral Rhinotracheitis, Calcivirus, and Panleukopenia.
  • Certificate of good health - Issued by a vet after an exam. You will usually need to get an official form from the consulate or embassy of the country you are moving to. It is often available on-line from the customs website.


Some airlines allow pets to travel in an airplane's cabin, provided their cage is small enough to fit under your seat. Small birds may also be able to travel in the cabin, but tropical birds such as parrots are usually not allowed.

If your pet's cage does not fit under your seat, you will have to ship it as checked baggage. Since the outside air temperature also affects the temperature in the cargo bay, airlines may restrict the transportation of pets during certain times of the year. Airlines have special requirements for containers in the cabin and cargo bay. Make sure you get detailed information from your preferred airlines before purchasing a cage or kennel.

Before leaving, acquaint your animal with the kennel or container. Add some familiar toys or some of your clothing items, so your pet has a sense of familiarity during the transport. Sedation of your pet during the trip is generally not recommended and should only be used as a last resort.

There are also pet relocation service that figure out all the details of the move. These services tend to be quite expensive, but take away the stress of doing it yourself.


Britain's tough quarantine regulations were a difficult obstacle for many pet owners. The restrictions were to keep the island nation rabies (and other diseases) free. Luckily, the Pet Travel Scheme (PETS) has relaxed the rules and pet dogs, cats and ferrets from certain countries may now enter the UK without quarantine (but must have a health certificate).

Pets entering the United Kingdom from any country that does not fall under PETS are required to spend six months in quarantine in the United Kingdom.

The UK government department in charge of regulating quarantine and the Pet Travel Scheme is the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). For further information visit the pet importation section of their website, call its Pet Travel Scheme helpline: +44 (0)870 241 1710, or EasyExpat's article on "Expat Pets".

Custom's Resources

U.S. Citizens: The free pamphlet "Know Before You Go" at is very helpful. (Click on "Travel" and then click on "Know Before You Go! Online Brochure").
You can also contact:
U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP)
1300 Pennsylvania Ave.
Washington, DC 20229
Tel. 877/287-8667

Canadian Citizens: "I Declare", issued by the Canada Border Services Agency (tel. 800/461-9999 in Canada, or 204/983-3500 ) is helpful.

Australian Citizens: A helpful brochure is available from Australian consulates or Customs offices called "Know Before You Go". Call the Australian Customs Service at tel. 1300/363-263, or log on to

Update 10/05/2012


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