Thu | Jan 21, 2021

Immigration Corner | Taking animals and plants into the UK

Published:Tuesday | September 22, 2020 | 12:10 AM
John Bassie
John Bassie

Dear Mr Bassie,

I recently got married, and I will be migrating to the United Kingdom (UK). I would like to take my pet with me and some other items from home.

Please tell me if I am able to take my pet with me and if there are any restrictions on what I can take with me.

– K.V.

Dear KV,

Persons can take animals, food, or plants into the United Kingdom.


Persons are permitted to take in certain pets and other animals. Persons can take their dogs, cats, or ferrets into the United Kingdom without quarantine as long as they meet the rules of the Pet Travel Scheme (PETS). Please note that there is a similar scheme for horses.

There are no restrictions on taking pet rodents, rabbits, birds, invertebrates, amphibians, and reptiles into the UK from European Union (EU) countries.

Pet rabbits and rodents from countries outside of the EU must spend four months in quarantine. These animals will require a rabies import licence.

Persons should contact the Centre for International Trade (Carlisle) for more information on the rules for travelling with these or other species of pets. Please be aware that there are rules that must be followed when importing animals that are not native to the United Kingdom.


Taking plants to the UK from the European Union: With respect to plants, persons can take in any plant material from a country in the EU or Switzerland if it is:

• Grown in one of these countries

• Free from pests and diseases

• For personal use

The EU also includes Andorra, the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man, San Marino, and the Vatican City, in this context.

More information can be accessed online with respect to ‘Bringing fruit, vegetable and plant products into the UK’ on which plant material can be taken in and how much of each item is allowed.

If you are travelling from a country outside of the EU or Switzerland, many products have weight and quantity restrictions or are banned completely unless you have a ‘phytosanitary’ (plant health) certificate.

You can get the certificate from the plant health authorities in the country you are leaving. It proves that your plants have been inspected, are free from dangerous pests and diseases, and are suitable to enter the UK.


Check that the seller can provide a phytosanitary certificate before you buy any plants from outside of he EU or Switzerland.

You do not need a certificate if you are buying a plant that is coming from the EU or Switzerland.


Contact the Animal and Plant Health Agency if you have specific questions.

Animal and Plant Health Agency

Telephone: 0300 1000 313

Find out about call charges.


What you can take into the UK depends on whether you are travelling from within or outside of the EU, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland.

The EU also includes Andorra, Canary Islands, Channel Islands, Isle of Man, and San Marino in this context.

Travelling from the EU, Liechtenstein, Norway, or Switzerland

You can take any fruit, vegetables, meat, dairy, or other animal products (for example, fish, eggs, and honey) into the UK if you are travelling from an EU country, Liechtenstein, Norway, or Switzerland.


Meat, dairy products, and potatoes: You cannot take meat, meat products, milk, dairy products, or potatoes into the UK from outside of the EU, Liechtenstein, Norway, or Switzerland unless you are coming from:

• Iceland

• The Faroe Islands

• Greenland

You can take up to 10kg from these countries.

Fruit and vegetables: You can take fruit and vegetables (except potatoes) into the UK as long as they are:

• In personal baggage

• For you and your family or friends (meaning you can’t sell them)

They must also be accompanied by a phytosanitary certificate unless they are one of the following tropical fruits:

• Pineapple

• Coconut

• Durian

• Banana or plantain

• Dates

You need to send the certificate to the Animal and Plant Health Agency within 72 hours of your arrival in the UK.

Eggs, honey, and fish:

•You can bring egg products, eggs, and honey (up to 2kg in total);

• Fish (up to 20kg in total or one fish, whichever is the heavier);

Any fish you bring in must be fresh and gutted, cooked, cured, dried, or smoked.


If you are coming back to the UK from outside of the EU, Liechtenstein, Norway, or Switzerland and you do not declare food that is not allowed, it will be taken away. You could face severe delays and face possible charges and prosecution.

You can appeal for compensation if you think your products should not have been taken away.

Further information

Read ‘Bringing food products into the UK’ and ‘Personal food import rules’ for more information.

John S. Bassie is a barrister/attorney-at-law who practises law in Jamaica. He is a justice of the peace, a Supreme Court-appointed mediator, a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, a chartered arbitrator, and a member of the Immigration Law Practitioners Association (UK). Email: