South Africa

Pet Travel to South Africa

South Africa is a stunning country that spans a vast area of land. Twice the size of France and five times as big as the UK, its 1.22m square kilometres make it the 9th largest country in the African continent.

Latest figures show that just over 200,000 people from the UK now live in South Africa and with its stunning scenery, nice weather, interesting wildlife, and captivating history, that number is set to continue rising as people look to experience life in a new country.

With these moves comes the need to pack up your entire life and get it shipped to your new home. With furniture and personal belongings scheduled for departure, it soon becomes just yourself and your pet that you need to ensure have the right flights booked. Luckily for your pet, a company like PBS Pet Travel exists. With over 20 years of experience, our team have been operating as premium pet travel specialists that endeavour to make the whole process of getting your pet to your chosen destination quickly, safely and compliant with the laws of South Africa.

Whilst most people are enquiring about taking dogs or cats with them, our expertise means that almost any animal can travel with you to your new life in SA.

Before booking your pet in for transportation to South Africa though, it would be wise to discover exactly what you need to know, what you need to do and how everything works so that you can be safe in the knowledge that your pet is safe and ultimately, allowed in South Africa.

Vaccinations needed for bringing a pet into South Africa from UK

As with any time you are taking pets abroad, you will need to ensure that they are fully up to date with any vaccinations that the destination country requires. In the case of transporting a pet from the UK to South Africa.

Bringing a dog or cat into South Africa from the UK will NOT require your pet to have a rabies vaccination, however, it does come as recommended because rabies is still present in South Africa.

If you do decide to have a rabies vaccine administered to your dog, it must be given at least 30 days before you are due to arrive in the country and no more than 12 months before your due arrival.

Puppies and kittens less than 3 months old will not require a vaccination regardless of what country they entered from as long as their mother had a rabies vaccination less than one year before their birth but at least 30 days before the puppy’s birth. Once in South Africa and they reach 3 months of age, the puppy will need to be vaccinated.

Aside from rabies, you should also ensure that kennel cough vaccinations and any standard annual vaccinations are also up to date before departure.

South African authorities also expect your dog to be clear of 5 other diseases. A blood test will show whether any of them are present in the dog’s system, however, if the country of origin is free from these diseases, no blood tests will be needed. You should check with your vet to ensure these diseases are not present in the UK.

The five diseases a blood test will check for are:

  • Brucella Canis
  • Tryanosoma Evansi
  • Dirofilaria immitis
  • Leishmania
  • Babesia Gibsoni

The tests for these must be completed within 30 days before travel to ensure no diseases will be entering South Africa.

Dogs showing a positive result for any of these will not be allowed into South Africa and will instead be put into quarantine. They will then be tested again for the five diseases. Positive tests on Brucella Canis, Babesia Gibsoni or Leishmania will see your dog need to be sent back to the origin country.

With the two other diseases, a positive test leaves you with 2 options. You can either have the dog treated for them, after which it will be tested again and then released if the result is negative. Or you can refuse the treatment, but this will result in you needing to send the dog back to the country from which it came.

None of these blood tests will apply to cats coming into South Africa.

A microchip will also be required for your dog or cat to be allowed into South Africa, tattoo barcoding is not allowed and instead, you should be making sure your pet carries an ISO 11784/11785 compliant chip.

Quarantine rules for pets in South Africa

As mentioned above, positive tests for any of the five diseases listed above will result in quarantine. Luckily, the latest information shows that dogs coming into South Africa from the UK will not need quarantine. However, you should always check with your vet as rules and regulations can change frequently. Our team at PBS Pet Travel are also adept at keeping fully up to date with the changing situations across the globe so you can always reach out to us.

As with the blood tests, quarantine does not apply to cats coming into South Africa.

Quarantine periods are normally 14 days, but this can be extended should a positive result for any of the previously mentioned diseases be present.

Documents for importing pets into South Africa

To bring your pet into South Africa you will need to ensure certain documents are both complete and valid otherwise you could find the entry for your pet being denied. Our team at PBS Pet Travel are on hand to assist as we know that all types of paperwork can often get confusing, quickly!

Your first task will be to secure an import permit. These are organized by applying to the South African Department of Agriculture. You complete the form online and send a payment at the same time.

These can be granted in as little as 5 days, but timescales vary so it is often advised that you speak to any contacts you may have in South Africa to help you by applying on your behalf. This way you can have the added peace of mind that the documents are ready in your destination country when you arrive. You can depart the UK with a copy of your import permit, but the original must be presented in South Africa. It will also be worth noting that the import permit is valid for 6 months from the date of issue.

Next up, you need to make sure that you have proof that your pet is well enough to travel to South Africa and be allowed into the country.

To do this, apply for the DEFRA export forms, which grant your pet the OK to leave the UK. It must be completed by a recognised vet. If it isn’t your pet will not be able to enter South Africa.

If you had followed the earlier guidance, you would have organized the relevant blood tests and vaccinations already and with them having been completed the remainder of any health checks can take place. Your recognised vet will complete these within 10 days of your flight. This then completes the DEFRA paperwork meaning that you now have both the relevant import and export health certificate for travelling to South Africa. This can be a confusing part of your relocation so should you be unsure of what to fill out, what to send or how to obtain any of the paperwork, just speak to our team. We will make it easy for you to get moving!

Pets banned from South Africa

Currently, there are not many pets on the banned list for entry to South Africa although rabbits and ferrets cannot gain access to the country. There is talk of a ban on Pitbulls, but this has not come to fruition as of the time of writing.

Other animals that are often seen as popular pets, such as a turtle or parrots can enter South Africa, but you should ensure it is not part of the CITES regulations. Our team at PBS Pet Travel will be able to advise on whether your pet would be categorised in this way. CITES is the “Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. This should not apply to your pet, but it is always worth checking, especially if you own something a little more unusual!

Such animals, along with fish, reptiles and certain mammals are allowed into the country but may require additional tests before entry.

Pet flights to South Africa from UK

With the help of PBS Pet Travel, you can rest assured that your pet has the correct type of flight to have them safely transported to South Africa. Should you wish to complete the process yourself, you are more than welcome to but there are a few things you need to be aware of to add to the medical checks, the paperwork and the quarantine regulations.

Your pet may fly as manifest cargo and not in the cabin with you unless it is an animal that is categorised as a support animal or guide dog. Some have varying rules on what is classed as a support animal so always feel free to ask us to give you the latest information on how your pet can travel to South Africa from the UK. All pets travelling as cargo must be stored in an IATA approved travel crate.

If your pet is to need quarantine, you can only fly into Johannesburg or Cape Town. An attempted entry at another port will see your pet refused entry. Should there be no need for quarantine, you can also enter via Durban International Airport.


You should find all you need to know for pet travel to South Africa above but if you have any questions, feel free to contact us for any additional information. Our team have well over 20 years of experience so will be able to guide you through the entire process. With our extensive network, we can even help facilitate the door-to-door transport of your pet should it not be easy for you to move your pet from the airport to the home. Our pet courier service allows for a smooth, safe and quick movement of your pet direct to your door. With a fully transparent service, we offer you a free bespoke pet travel quote that suits your exact needs with no hidden charges or extras. Find out more today!