|our dog Ellie on her way to Malta|
A couple of months ago I started doing a little investigative blogging work, after many questions from readers and fellow travellers about bringing their pets to Malta. Travelling, particularly flying, with your pets is a tricky business. So here is the information I've gathered about a very specific situation that I hope will be useful to you in planning your trip or relocation.
We frequently travel with our dogs between Malta and Canada, which requires us to fly from Malta to Germany to Central Canada to Eastern Canada. We are originally from Halifax - a tantalizingly short 5 hour flight from London, UK. But we can't fly from London to Halifax with our dogs, as they are too small to fly cargo, and pets cannot travel to the UK in the cabin.
However, pet import rules to the UK and Malta, among other European countries, recently changed. And I wanted to know if this restriction would soon change too.
I contacted Air Canada and received this reply:
The rule regarding pets in the cabin to the UK is one that is enforced by the British Government. Per their rules, "All animals (except guide dogs) travelling to or from the UK must travel in the hold as manifest cargo".
What changed with pets travelling to the UK is the the mandatory quarantine issue, allowing pet owners to avoid the six month quarantine provided certain conditions are met.
As these conditions can only be verified by UK officials upon arrival in the UK, we are still required to adhere to the manifested cargo policy for all pet travel except guide dogs.OK, that's fair. But I wanted to learn more about why animals had to travel as cargo to the UK. So I contacted the British Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency (AHVLA). They told me that:
Defra’s [The Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs] main concern is to ensure that every animal entering the country under PETS [the UK's pet import scheme] is properly checked for compliance. So that the operation of the scheme is not prejudiced and at an airport, this checking occurs at an animal reception centre (ARC). Pets enter the UK as 'manifest cargo' as this allows the carrier to log the presence of the pet on board the flight and further provides documentary evidence of this. By doing so, UK portal staff are made aware of a pet's presence on board a flight and can thus ensure staff from the ARC collect the animals from the aircraft, transport them to the ARC where full PETS checks are carried out upon the entry of the pet into the UK. Compliant pets can then be released to the person responsible for them, while any discrepancies can be dealt with during which time the pet concerned is safely housed in quarantine conditions at the ARC.Essentially, pets cannot travel in the cabin to the UK because staff cannot, or will not, be allocated to meet travellers with cabin-travelling-pets at arrivals and take them to the ARC. Unfortunate, but that's the way it is. You can find a list of approved routes for travelling to the UK with dogs here.
Oh well - we chose to get small dogs and we chose to live abroad and travel with them. In the larger scale of things it's a small inconvenience. But when someone tells me 'No' my first question is always 'Why?' (it's that darn journalistic training) and I hope this helps other curious travellers answer their questions too.
// Our previous post about traveling with and importing pets to Malta
// A great resource for easily finding airline pet policies (they are often hidden away deep within an airline's web site)
// A fantastic guide for traveling with pets - everything from how to prepare, pet crates and carriers, and traveling by plane, ferry, car, or through the Chunnel - from AHVLA in the UK.