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Moving with a cat from Bulgaria to England

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  • Moving with a cat from Bulgaria to England

    Hi, we seem to be a bit stuck figuring out how we can arrange moving our cat from Bulgaria to the UK. The three airline companies that have direct flights from Sofia to London, namely British Airways, Wizz and Ryanair, all seem to not allow pets in the cabin. What's worse, transport companies, including those that specialise in live animal transfers, say that there's currently some kind of embargo in place, meaning they can't book pet flights. On my request for some details about that embargo, they say it's due to Brexit, so some custom rules, etc. are not settled yet. The first time I asked them was October 2020 and now it's April 2021, so no changes during the last six months, which I have to admit doesn't make any sense to me. So how long are we supposed to wait for all the bureaucracy bits to be addressed? Are we expected to abandon our cat or wait for years to be able to move? Would really appreciate any advice.

  • #2
    Hello Lisa - no commercial airline will fly a pet into the UK in the cabin. Due to handling procedures once on the ground, they will all require that your cat arrive as air cargo. You will need a licensed agent in your country to book the transport as air cargo. We do not have offices in Bulgaria; however, you can search for an agent at You can also contact IAG Cargo Services who handles live animal transport for British Airlines and ask them for an agent reference.

    As for the embargo, it is not due to Brexit. Your cat's EU Pet Passport will be accepted in the UK. If you are traveling with or within 5 days of your cat, all it will need is a pet passport reflecting a current rabies vaccination administered more than 21 days before travel and at the same time or after a microchip is implanted. Your airline will require a health certificate issued by your veterinarian within 10 days of travel.

    What may be the issue is the service that the airlines are providing and the back up that the Animal Reception Center in London is presently experiencing. Many airlines have suspended service for live animals or downsized their aircraft so fewer animals can fly in the cargo hold. An agent would be fully aware of restrictions or you can ask the airline directly. Contact their cargo departmets.


    • #3
      Hello Susan, thanks for the details. The EU passport and a valid rabies vaccine are all in place. We also have arrangements about vet examination / health certificate. So that shouldn't be a problem.

      The thing is, and IAG Cargo both refer to the same local company from who we know that they cannot book pet flights to the UK. So we can't even initiate the process -- the agent just refuses to proceed. 'Embargo is not UK, it is airline embargo. just the flights are closed and we cannot book.' they say.

      Somehow I have a gut feeling that the real situation is not quite what I'm getting told.


      • #4
        Lisa - these are difficult times and we have been notified that the HARC in London is struggling with COVID procedures which are affecting their operations. Options from our country (US) are very limited and commercial airlines have cut back service to many countries including the UK which has been in lockdown for months. We have also heard of the embargo from other pet owners. If you can cross borders, you may find service out of international airports in other cities like Frankfurt.


        • #5
          Hi Susan, in your experience, would it be realistic to expect that things may change in a couple weeks time or so? I'm a bit confused with the embargo being in force for months.


          • #6
            It's all about COVID, Lisa. The EU and UK is still struggling with the virus and France went into total lockdown (phase 4) several weeks ago. Doubtful that many EU countries will open up before the summer. We can't say exactly except to keep checking with your agent or IAG.


            • #7
              Covid time, don't know what to do. i find the cheap flight ticket scanner.
              Airscanner search more than 100 of travel sites at once to find the cheapest flights. We are not an agent, Airscanner scans prices from different agencies and filters out the cheapest airline tickets.