UK pet owners reluctant to make the move abroad

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

UK pet owners reluctant to make the move abroad

Many of us who dream of the expat life picture the cherished family pet moving as well.

Whether it's your cats in the Costas or the dog in the Dordogne, a move somewhere warm wouldn't be the same without them!

In fact, worries about taking a pet may cause potential movers to decide against it completely.

New research suggests that UK pet owners with an interest in moving abroad would be 'reluctant to do so' due to problems they associate with taking animals to a foreign country.

According to a study from an online visa application help website, 61 per cent of pet owners would be unwilling to commit to an expatriate lifestyle due to their pets; with just under half, 44 per cent, citing 'quarantine laws' as the main factor keeping them from taking their pets to a new life abroad.

However, of these, 74 per cent admitted that they didn't really understand them.

The study, conducted by, polled 1,822 UK pet owners aged 18 and over. All respondents had expressed an interest in moving abroad, and the study was conducted as part of research into influences affecting emigration.

Respondents to the study were initially asked, 'Does having a pet(s) affect your decision making when considering living abroad?' to which 76 per cent of pet owners admitted that 'yes' it did.

Only 24 per cent said that it wouldn't influence them. When further asked whether pet ownership would make them reluctant to move abroad 61 per cent of respondents said that 'yes' it would.

The study then asked respondents, 'Would you be willing to take your pet(s) abroad with you, should you decide to move abroad?' which revealed that less than half, 44 per cent, said that 'yes' they would if it was possible.

However the remaining 56 per cent said that 'no' they wouldn't be willing to take them with them.

Respondents who said 'no' were then asked why this was, which revealed the following top five reasons. They were allowed to select more than one option if more than one applied.

1. Fears over quarantine laws - 44 per cent

2. Distress to the animal(s) - 42 per cent

3. Fear of diseases found abroad (rabies etc.) - 29 per cent

4. Added administration costs/requirements for animals - 27 per cent

5. Hindrance to potential plans/lifestyle - 16 per cent

Those respondents who said that they were worried about quarantine laws were asked whether or not they were fully aware of the laws/requirements surrounding the movement of animals, to which 74 per cent admitted that 'no' they weren't'.

Furthermore, 58 per cent worried that 'returning to the UK would be a hindrance with pets in tow'.

Of the pet owners questioned who claimed they would move their pet abroad, the most common pet(s) that people wanted to take with them were 'Dog(s)' (42 per cent), closely followed by 'Cat(s)' (36 per cent) and then 'Rabbit(s)' (16 per cent).

The animals people were most likely to leave behind were 'Fish' (29 per cent), 'Guinea Pig(s)' (22 per cent), and 'Hamster(s)' (19 per cent).

Liam Clifford, Director of, made the following comment:

"Anyone who owns a pet is aware of the emotional bond that's formed. Therefore simply leaving pets behind and heading off to a new life abroad would be unthinkable to most, but should having a pet be considered such a hindrance to a new life abroad?"

He continued:

"The process of taking your pet abroad with you is now much simpler than it once was. Whilst rules surrounding the importing of animals vary around the world, if you do need to return to the UK it's no longer the case of having to leave the family dog in quarantine for six months."

"Laws also vary depending on the type of animal, but owning a pet shouldn't be an immediate barrier thrown up to obstruct you from contemplating a new life in the sunshine. If a life abroad is of interest, you should definitely look into it."


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