Pet Travel Paperwork Explained

Pet travel paperwork can feel daunting and complicated, we have put together a guide below to help explain the sorts of documents that may be required for your pets relocation.

Animal Health certificates

An Animal Health Certificate, or ‘AHC’ is required for any accompanied pets travelling from the UK to the EU. Accompanied means when the owner is either travelling on the same flight, or within 5 days of their pet. An AHC has to be issued by an Official Veterinarian (OV) appointed by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), the Scottish Government or the Welsh. Pets will need to be examined by the OV no more than 10 days prior to travel to have the AHC completed, signed and stamped.

Find out more about the Animal Health Certificate and travelling to Europe.

Vaccination Cards

Many destinations outside of Europe will require your pet to have had specific vaccinations within particular time-frames prior to your pet’s flight. So if you do not have a Pet Passport recording your pet’s treatment and vaccination history, your vet will need to issue their practice vaccination card which is regarded as official proof of your pet’s vaccinations. The vaccination card must show:

  1. Pet details such as age, sex, breed, name and microchip number
  2. Vaccinations history, including type of vaccine, date given, batch number, expiry date and due date.

Something to be aware of – some veterinary practices will print your pet’s history on an in-house system – this will NOT be accepted as sufficient proof of treatments, tests, or vaccinations.

DEFRA Export Health Certificates

This is a document required by most destinations outside of Europe and America and is also required for any unaccompanied pet travel to Europe. Each country has its own specific DEFRA export health certificate and this is drawn up by the UK government to match the countries importing conditions. These certificates need to be signed off by a UK government-approved vet prior to your pet’s travel. The document is applied for well in advance of your pet’s flight and is then posted directly from DEFRA’s office to your nominated vet, about a week or so before the flight. The certificate is then filled in, signed, dated and stamped by your vet at your pet’s final health check-up before the flight. Final check-up timings will vary and health certificate requirements will vary – you can visit DEFRA’s website to download the certificate specific to each destination here.

PBS Pet Travel can apply for a DEFRA Export Health certificate and arrange for it to be posted to your chosen vet or, we can arrange for this to be sent to our airport vet, where your pet can then visit for its final health check prior to the flight.

Import Permits

Most destinations outside of Europe and America will require you to have an import permit or license issued for your pet and this is issued by the country of import. So for example if your pet is travelling from the UK to Hong Kong, you will apply to the relevant authorities in Hong Kong for this to be issued.

The application process for pet import permits will vary, but most countries will allow you to apply for this online through the relevant government website. Most pet import permits are not issued immediately, therefore we recommend applying for your pet’s import permit as soon as possible. You will usually have to pay for your pet’s import permit and may need to provide proof of vaccinations, tests and treatments at the time of application.

As a general rule, a hard copy of the original import permit is NOT required when your pet checks in for their flight out of the UK, however a clear scanned and printed copy must be present. The original permit will need to be presented when the pet is collected on arrival.

If your pet requires a DEFRA export health certificate as well as an import permit, you will need to have your permit issued before the DEFRA export health certificate is signed-off by your vet, as the vet will need to record the import permit number on to the DEFRA export health certificate, so we recommend having this printed and ready to take to your vet’s final health check.