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Importation information for rescues

Importation information for rescues

Current tests required by ADCH members

Last updated 18 October 2023

Advice from the UK’s Chief Veterinary Officers now advises that the following tests to be carried out for Brucella Canis prior to importation, and that dogs testing positive should not be imported into the UK.

  • Brucella canis SAT (TC1032); and
  • Brucella canis iELISA (TC0116)

If either test is positive, then the sample is considered serologically positive. If both tests are negative, then the sample is considered serologically negative. The recommendation from the CVOs is that both tests are undertaken and that you discuss this and the test results with your vet. Please see below news item for more information.

Last updated 03 November 2022

Members importing into the UK from outside of the UK and Republic of Ireland should, as a minimum, carry out blood tests for the following diseases:

  • Brucella Canis
  • Rabies
  • Babesiosis
  • Ehrlichiosis
  • Leishmaniasis
  • Dirofilaria

These tests are required before and after travel. The test before travel is so that animals that test positive are not subjected to the stress of long distance journeys for no reason. The test after travel and before homing is required to minimise the chances of rehoming an animal with disease that does not, at that time, have visible symptoms, for example a diseases with a longer incubation period.

Latest news

First identification of feline coronavirus identified in the UK – 30 November 2023

Further to the news piece below (August 2023) regarding the FIP outbreak in Cyprus, the BVA have confirmed that the first case of a new feline coronavirus has been detected in the UK. This was found in a cat imported to the UK from Cyrpus, who has tested positive for the new coronavirus (FCoV-23), which may lead to FIP. Unlike usual cases of FIP and feline coronaviruses, it is believed that this strain is transmitting between cats. It is hoped that the risk to the UK feline population is low, as the cat concerned has been kept indoors.

For more information, please see the BVA website here.


Advice issued by UK Chief Veterinary Officers regarding detection of Brucella Canis- 18 October 2023

The UK’s Chief Veterinary Officers have written to dog breeders, rescue and rehoming organisations and vets to provide recommend actions to be taken in detecting Brucella Canis in dogs being brought in from overseas. The actions are currently advisory and voluntary, pending further evidence gathering and assessment to inform appropriate policy changes. You can read a full copy of the letter here and FAQs here.

FIP outbreak in Cyprus – 10 August 2023

There has been an outbreak of FIP (Feline Infectious Peritonitis) in Cyrpus. Cat owners are advised against travelling with cats to and from Cyprus where possible to avoid spreading the virus – this includes the adoption of unowned/stray cats. If travel is deemed essential, testing for feline coronavirus should be discussed with a veterinarian, and the University of Edinburgh can offer further advice.


Feline coronavirus is shed in the faeces of infected cats and spread to others via contact with the infected faecal matter, which is subsequently ingested when grooming. Good environmental hygiene (especially of litter trays but also brushes, food and water bowls) and avoiding housing cats in large groups can help reduce the risk of disease, particularly in rescue and rehoming facilities – the virus is readily inactivated by most detergents and disinfectants. Stress plays a role in the development of FIP, so considering a cat’s environment and the number of cats remains important.  


For further information please see International Cat Care’s news item here.


New rules for commercial imports of pets from higher risk countries – 29 October 2022

Defra lifted the ban on imports of dogs from Romania, Poland, Belarus and Ukraine to the UK on 29 October 2022. However, new rules have been tightened, you can find full details here, but in summary:

1) You need to apply for, and be granted, approved importer status (apply for Approved Importer status) with the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA). In order to be approved, importers must be based or have representation in the UK, have no record of serious non-compliances in the last 12 months, and share with APHA the details of the transporter and the registered premises from where the animals originate from.

2) You can only import Monday-Friday 1000-1600 through an approved import centre (see the .gov pages for a full list)

Brucellosis Canis

Brucellosis Canis is a continually rising threat in areas where dogs are frequently exported from. It is a particularly challenging disease as it is zoonotic, and it can also be passed to other dogs (the first case of human transition has also been recorded).

There is no cure for Brucellosis Canis, and whilst the advice from APHA/DEFRA stops short of recommending euthanasia, the limitations placed upon socialising a dog with Brucellosis can also lead to poor welfare outcomes for many individuals.

Information on other diseases

  1. Leishmania: There is a risk of dog-dog transmission, as seen in this case: here. Also, because its zoonotic and the risk of spread to humans through bites cannot be ruled out.
  2. Babesiosis, Ehrlichiosis, and Anaplasmosis: Represent risks to the welfare of the dog such as the risk of bleeding during neutering/surgery, treatable conditions
  3. Heartworm: Is a risk to the welfare of the dog and is a treatable condition

Whilst testing for all of these diseases is not a legal requirement, ADCH Members must adhere to ADCH’s Minimum Welfare and Operational Standards, which are explained above. This list will be updated as required.

Diseases in country of origin

In addition ADCH Members are required to test for diseases endemic in the country of origin. These can be checked using the Bayer CVBD website below.

Key information

Rescues should always check the latest information on endemic or zoonotic diseases from the country of origin. ADCH usually recommends using the Companion Vector Borne Diseases websites and maps, however these are currently unavailable until Spring 2023. For now, the ESCCAPE website provides information on some countries, and rescues are advised to work with their own vet and carry out their own research.

The British government has a list of diseases they are monitoring on their website here which should also always be consulted. You can find the latest advice from the APHA in their August 2022 publication here.