Traveling with pets into the EU / UK region Commercial vs Non-Commercial


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When you decide to fly your pets over to the EU region including the UK, there are quite specific rules of travel that need to be complied with. The way your pet may enter this region depends entirely on your travel plans as this dictates the way they would be cleared at customs on arrival.

Essentially, you have two options when making the decision to travel with pets. We have listed these below with a clear breakdown of their differences so that you can make an informed decision and choose the option that best suits you and your fur-family at the time of travel.

For more information on the differences please read our article clicking here

Non-Commercial Pet Travel to the UK / EU:

This refers to all “accompanied” pets over the age of 6 months traveling into the EU. (accompanied is defined as traveling at the same time or within 5 days either side of the owner or a representative for the owner)
In the case that your pet is under 6 months old, to be considered for non-commercial, then you as the owner will have to prove that your pet is an established family pet, i.e. you have had it for several months and haven’t just bought a puppy/ pet just to ship internationally. This is put in place to curb the shipment of pets for unethical reasons e.g. dog fighting and pet farming and ensure the safe and ethical transportation of animals into the EU.
Non-commercial arrivals are all checked by the Arrival Border Inspection Post that they arrive in to before clearance.
Airports include: LHR, LGW, MAN, EDI , GLA, FRA, AMS, ZRH etc

Commercial Pet Travel to the UK / EU:

This refers to all “unaccompanied” pets traveling into the EU, i.e. where the pet and owner travel more than 5 days apart, and/ or where there are more than 5 pets travelling on a single AWB.
In the case that there are more than 5 pets traveling on a single AWB, even if within 5 days of the owner and/ or if a pet (i.e. puppy or kitten younger than 6 months old or a stud animal) is purchased from abroad and brought into the EU, these will also need to travel commercial.
Specifically for UK arrivals – All Commercial arrivals are checked by DEFRA staff (The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs – UK) and NOT by ARC staff.
As there aren’t DEFRA staff located at all Border Inspection Posts, pets can only arrive commercial into LHR, LGW and by exception EDI. (EDI can only take Commercial by exception as they have to contact DEFRA HQ to get a vet out specifically)

Commercial arrivals costing INCLUDES the final Health Check, pre-boarding (as appropriate depending on departing city) as well as worming treatments required for certain EU (including UK) countries as well as the payment of VAT. These costs are not generally included in Non-Commercial options so would be an additional cost to the owner which need to be factored in.

It is important to further note that if you intend on travelling Commercial, you will need a VAT number as well as have a State Vet Commercial number to confirm that your pet is not a commodity. This means that no one is making money off the animals on arrival and again put in place to ensure animal safety and ethical relocation.


To avoid additional cost at customs when traveling into the EU with pets for both Commercial and Non-Commercial, you will need to apply and have your TOR (Transfer of Residence) number handy before collection and to avoid possible delays in bringing your pets home.

Owners need to be very aware that there are ramifications for the incorrect entry of your pet into the EU. Unfortunately, there appear to be many pet shippers who will encourage owners to make intentionally false declarations of travel within 5 days of travel on the official Veterinary Health Certificate. This includes falsely declaring your arrival date is within 5 days of your pets. This can be costly in the long run as well as have further implications on your arrival in the UK. A falsely declared Non-Commercial pet arrival also means intentional avoidance of tax payments into the EU (including the UK) countries. A small extra payment now can potentially avoid large headaches down the line. We always encourage our moms and dads to do the right thing and follow the rules, plus as an ethical pet shipper whose pet welfare is always at the forefront of all of our daily consultancies, we would be unable to assist with any incorrect entry for your pet, your pets welfare and smooth document clearance is our absolute primary concern and the core of our professional service.

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