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Taking your pet abroad

The Pet Travel Scheme (PETS) allows for limited movement of pets between the UK and some European countries under controlled conditions.

Your questions answered

What are the requirements?

If you wish to take your pet abroad with you AND bring it home again you must ensure that you follow all the rules.

The current requirements of the Pet Travel Scheme should be checked on the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) website http://www.defra.gov.uk/wildlife-pets/pets/travel/.

At the time of writing, the requirements of the PETS can be summarised as follows:

  • Your pet must be fitted with a permanent form of identification (a microchip).
  • Your pet must have received a rabies vaccination. This is NOT carried out as part of the routine vaccination protocol in the UK.
  • Your pet must have been issued with a Pet Passport.

You are responsible for ensuring that all the relevant documentation is completed before you travel and for arranging to see a vet abroad before you return to the UK. The cost of meeting all these requirements is your responsibility.

Before you enter the UK your cat's microchip and all relevant documentation will be checked by the transport company. If documentation is not in order your cat will be returned to the country from which it is travelling or be required to undergo 6 months quarantine before being allowed back into the UK.

What about immigration?

Make sure you can answer YES to the following before arriving at UK immigration.

  • My pet has a microchip.
  • My pet's rabies vaccination is up to date.
  • We are travelling to an approved country.
  • We are travelling by an approved route.
  • I have checked that additional certificates are not required by the country I plan to visit.

Does your pet have a microchip implant?

A microchip is a small implant that your vet will insert under your pet's skin that carries a permanent identification number.

DEFRA do not specify a particular type or brand of microchip to be used.

In Europe, however, particular microchips may be required. It is therefore best to ensure that your pet has an ISO (International Standards Organisation) Standard microchip meeting specifications 11784 or Annex A of ISO Standard 11785, if you plan to take your pet abroad.

Is your pet vaccinated against rabies?

A microchip must be implanted BEFORE the rabies vaccination is given. Rabies boosters must be kept up to date. The length of the waiting period before entry into the UK is 21 days after the vaccination date. If the vaccination is in two parts the 21 days wait will be from the date of the second vaccination. For more information, visit the DEFRA website http://www.defra.gov.uk/wildlife-pets/pets/travel/pets/pet-owners/vaccination/.

Is your pet protected against rabies?

A pet must not enter the UK under PETS until at least 21 days have passed from the date of rabies vaccination.

Until January 2012 a blood test had to be taken to show that the rabies vaccination had been effective in protecting your pet against rabies. Pets entering the UK from non-approved countries still require a blood test which should be taken at least 1 month after the last rabies vaccination and 3 months before entry into the UK (http://www.defra.gov.uk/wildlife-pets/pets/travel/pets/pet-owners/blood-test/).

Does your pet have the right certificates?

Your vet will examine your pet before you travel to certify that it has a microchip and is up to date with rabies vaccination. He will then issue your pet with a Pet Passport.

The Pet Passport can only be completed by a specially registered vet. Only vets approved by the government (LVIs) can sign and issue a Pet Passport - so check with your veterinary practice that they have a vet who is able to complete your documentation.

In some instances it may be necessary for your vet to complete a separate certificate to show that your pet meets the health requirements of the countries you are visiting or travelling through. You should contact the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) office or Embassy of the country you are visiting for details of these requirements.

Does your pet usually live in the UK?

Does your pet normally live in the UK and has only visited countries in the following list:

Qualifying EU Countries and Territories:

Austria, Azores, Balearic Islands, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canary Islands, Ceuta, Cyprus (Republic only), Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Faroe Islands, Finland, France, French Guiana, Germany, Greece, Greenland, Guadeloupe, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madeira, Malta, Martinique, Melilla, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Reunion, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden.

No preparation or documentation is necessary for the movement of pets directly between the UK and the Republic of Ireland.

Pets returning to the UK from an increasing number of additional non-EU countries are eligible to enter the UK under the Pet Travel Scheme. An up-to-date list of these countries can be obtained from the DEFRA website (http://www.defra.gov.uk/wildlife-pets/pets/travel/pets/countries/eu-countries/).

Is your pet travelling by an approved route and using an approved carrier?

You may not bring a pet into the UK from a private boat or plane.

Your pet may travel to the UK via any qualifying country or countries. It must not have been to any non-qualifying country in the 6 months before entering the UK.

It should be noted that there are no approved routes to the UK from the following PETS countries:

EU countries and territories: Faroe Islands, French Guiana, Greenland, Reunion.

Non-EU countries: Andorra, Aruba, Ascension Island, British Virgin Islands, Chile, Belarus, Bosnia Herzegovina, Fiji, French Polynesia, Grenadines, Guam, Jamaica (which although rabies-free is excluded from PETS by Jamaican law), Liechtenstein, Mayotte, Monaco, Montserrat, New Caledonia, St Helena, St Pierre & Miquelon, St Vincent, San Marino, Taiwan, Trinidad & Tobago, Vanatu, Vatican, Wallis & Futana (http://www.defra.gov.uk/wildlife-pets/pets/travel/pets/countries/noneu-countries/).

The up-to-date list of approved routes and approved carriers should be obtained from the DEFRA website (http://www.defra.gov.uk/wildlife-pets/pets/travel/pets/routes/).

Has your cat been treated for parasites?

From I January 2012, tapeworm rules only apply to dogs. There is no legal requirement for cats to be treated for tapeworms or ticks before re-entering the UK. However, it is in the interest of pet owners to take precautionary measures to avoid bringing foreign parasites back into the UK. These unwelcome visitors can result in serious disease in your pet and other animals in the UK.

For further information visit: http://www.defra.gov.uk/wildlife-pets/pets/travel/pets/pet-owners/parasites/.

Does your pet have holiday insurance?

Strange as it may seem, holiday insurance is now available for your pet too. This can cover emergency veterinary fees, third party liability, loss of passport and many other eventualities. Insurance is available for 30 days or longer periods. If your pet is already insured ask your insurance company if they offer discounted premiums for travelling.

The DEFRA website contains full details of the Pet Travel Scheme. This should be consulted to check all up-to-date requirements of the scheme http://www.defra.gov.uk/wildlife-pets/pets/travel/pets/.

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