Commercial and Non-Commercial Movements of Pets into Great Britain

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Closes 16 Oct 2021


We are seeking your views on the government’s proposed changes to the rules governing the commercial and non-commercial movement of pets (dogs, cats and ferrets) into Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales). This does not include Northern Ireland. This is a joint consultation being issued by Defra on behalf of the UK Government, the Welsh Government, and the Scottish Government.

Now that we have left the European Union (EU), the government has the opportunity to manage our own pet travel (non-commercial) and commercial import requirements.

In June 2021, the Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) bill was introduced to Parliament. The Bill aims to deliver the UK Government’s manifesto commitment to crack down on the issue of illegal puppy smuggling.

The Bill includes a regulation-making power to introduce restrictions on commercial and non-commercial pet movements into Great Britain on welfare grounds and to make changes to the supporting enforcement regime.

We are consulting on these proposed new restrictions, which have been developed utilising recommendations1 and evidence2 from the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) committee and third-sector organisations, as well as public petitions and campaigns for change.3,4  The key proposed measures include: 

    • Increasing the minimum age at which dogs can be brought into Great Britain (commercial and non-commercial dog movements).
    • Prohibiting the commercial and non-commercial movement into Great Britain of dogs with cropped ears and docked tails.
    • Prohibiting the commercial and non-commercial movement of heavily pregnant dams (female dogs) into Great Britain.

We believe that these proposed measures will have a significant impact in helping us to address the high and increasing volume of movements of dogs with low welfare standards into Great Britain, under both the commercial and non-commercial rules.   

These measures will not apply to domestic movements, including those between Northern Ireland and Great Britain.

EFRA 2019 recommendations letter - Correspondence to Secretary of State from the Chair October 2019 about puppy smuggling (PDF)

EFRA 2020 Written and Oral Evidence

Petition to Parliament - Stop the Rising Number of Ear-Cropped Dogs in the UK

Petition to Parliament - Ban the Exploitative Import of Young Puppies for Sale in the UK