Importing Reptiles into the UK

Written by Gemma in January, 2006
Page 2 of 2

I contacted both the Bristol office and the vet office at Heathrow who kindly sent me the details in writing that I needed. The latter people can be contacted on 0208 759 7002.

For details on correct shipping containers, go here: http://www.iata.org/whatwedo/live_anima ... ingpet.htm and always ask the airline you book with if they have any special requirements themselves.

The above details are essential to obtain not only because they are your legal responsibility as a pet owner importing your reptile, but also because the airline you book with will need these details to ensure the legality of the transaction.

The next step is preparing to clear your animal through Customs. Because reptiles are incapable of carrying rabies, they do not require a quarantine period (this will be confirmed for you at the number I listed above). However, there is still red tape to deal with as soon as they touch British soil.

There are two documents you will need: a C-5 and a C88 (also called a CATH). The first of which can be downloaded online from the HM Revenue and Customs website: http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/home.htm. The second form can only be mailed to you, so you will need to phone customs on their enquiry line: 0845 010 9000.

From here you have two options:

1/ filling in both forms yourself OR
2/ hire a livestock agency to do this for you.

The first option is originally cheaper, as you avoid admin fees, but the C88 form is extremely complex, requiring a series of codes that can only be found in the customs tariff book, volume 3, which can be found at your local library. Another downside is that a paper copy of this form can take up to 3 days to clear, which means that your pet will have to be quarantined for those 3 days; something that you will have to arrange yourself and which can be very costly (the standard fee for reptiles is £103 per 24hrs of quarantine).

Therefore the second option is much easier, and cheaper, as the livestock agency will not only fill in the form for you but will admit it electronically as soon as your animal arrives, meaning that all you have to do is collect your pet, sign a release form, and head on home.

The livestock company I strongly recommend (it's fully certified and has the best prices; they're also extremely helpful) are James Cargo LTD ( http://www.jcslivestock.com/index.html). Their standard fee for a reptile is £210-250, which is paid once you pick up your pet.

Their Gatwick representatives can be reached at: 01293 567 643
And their main office, situated at Heathrow, can be reached at: 01753 682 244

The kind representatives at both those locations will talk you through the process and ensure that you have contacted all the right people.

The only thing left to do after all this is to drive to the airport, and bring your beloved pet home. And please remember to take a form of photo ID with you, as this will be required to legally release your pet into your care.