European Pet Travel: The Pet Travel Scheme and Pet Passports
You are responsible for ensuring your pet is fit for travel. All animals can carry diseases and illnesses that can easily be spread to pets and wildlife in European Union countries. If you are planning on taking your pet abroad, make sure you are clued up on the latest protocol when it comes to travelling to or from the UK to any EU destination with your pet. The Pet Travel Scheme rules changed in 2014 so, before you travel, we strongly advise you read the guidelines carefully to ensure a seamless voyage for you and your pet.
What is the Pet Travel Scheme?
Often referred to or shown as PETS, the Pet Travel Scheme is a system which means your pet can move between member countries without having to spend time in quarantine. Documentation is provided in the form of a pet passport which contains a description and identification of your pet.
What type of pets can get an EU pet passport under the Pet Travel Scheme?
Sadly, the pet travel scheme does not cover all species of pet. Currently, the legislation only applies to dogs, cats and ferrets as they are the most commonly transported animals. Other pets may still be able to travel abroad but will have to be quarantined for a period of time.
How long does it take to get a pet passport?
Pet passports can be issued within 24 hours Monday to Friday. However, after your pet has received their rabies vaccination, you must wait 21 days to travel. Most people allow ample time to get their pets a passport, but it can be obtained in around 3 weeks to a month if needed.
How do I get a pet passport?
Your vet will be the best person to help take you through the process of getting your pet a passport. They will be able to schedule your appointments appropriately and answer any queries you have along the way.
How much is a pet passport?
Most applicants end up spending around £150 to £250 on the process of getting a pet passport. For dog, cat and ferret owners, this is usually much less than alternative holiday care and is a one-off fee, as opposed to a cost every trip abroad.
How old does my pet need to be to travel abroad?
Your pet will need to be at least 12 weeks old. Usually, the 21 day wait between rabies vaccination and travel means the youngest pets to travel abroad are 15 weeks old.
Does my pet need a microchip?
Your dog, cat or ferret must be fitted with a microchip before their rabies vaccination. In the UK it is now law to have your dog microchipped, but it is best to have your other pets receive this treatment too in case they become lost or need identifying for another reason.
The microchip number of the animal must match the microchip number present on the pet passport.
Does my pet need a rabies vaccination?
Yes, all pets travelling abroad must be vaccinated against rabies. The vaccine name and manufacturer, date and expiry will need to be recorded in the pet passport. A minimum of 21 days is required between the vaccination and day of travel.
Does my pet need a blood test?
A blood test is no longer required for pets travelling between EU countries. Only pets entering the UK from unlisted non-EU countries will be required to undergo a blood test.
Does my pet need tapeworm treatment?
Cats and ferrets don not need tapeworm treatment, but any dogs will. Treatment must be given up to 5 days before travelling, and no later than 24 hours before travelling. The tapeworm treatment, date and time must be recorded in the pet passport for your dog.
Do I need any other paperwork to travel to EU countries?
No, you will only need your pet passport. Everything will be recorded in your pet passport and no other paperwork will be needed.
However, if your pet is flying, you will need to visit your vet for a ‘fit to fly’ letter (sometimes known as a General Health Certificate) no more than 10 days prior to travel. It must be dated and on the veterinary surgery’s headed paper.
For non-EU countries, you will need to obtain an official third country veterinary certificate.
Your Pet Travel Scheme Checklist
To make sure you are in the best position to travel abroad with your dog, cat or ferret, we have outlined the key actions to take when obtaining your pet passport.
What Happens If Your Pet Doesn’t Meet These Requirements?
If you falter on the necessities outlined above your pet will either be denied travel or will have to enter quarantine. This can be costly and stressful so it is best to ensure your pet has received all the required veterinary treatment and this is recorded in their pet passport.
How Could Brexit Affect Pet Travel?
DEFRA and the Animal and Plant Health Agency have been delivering their best advice considering Brexit has not been confirmed. If you have travels with your pet planned, you should get in touch with your vet. If you have a pet passport already your pet may need a rabies blood test as a precautionary action to protect your pet if Brexit occurs pre-travel or whilst you’re overseas. If not, you will need to apply for your pet passport around four months prior to your departure.
No Deal Brexit and Pet Travel
If the UK fails to leave the EU following a negotiated deal, the country will be classed as unlisted. This means current pet passports will not allow travel around EU countries. Whilst you will still be able to visit Europe you will need to meet the same criteria for pets visiting countries outside of the EU, this includes:
- Rabies vaccination or rabies booster if already vaccinated
- Rabies blood test 30 days after the vaccination
- You can travel 3 months after a clear blood sample
- 10 days before you travel you will need a health certificate from your vet in both English and the language of any countries you are visiting
- The certificate will need to state:
- Your pet’s vaccination history
- The date they were microchipped
- The results of a successful rabies blood test
- Record of tapeworm treatment if heading to Ireland, Finland or Malta
Once the above has can enter a foreign country, including anywhere in Europe, up to 10 days after the health certificate has been issued. Once you have finished your travels you will be given access back into the UK if you return within 4 months.
Brexit pet travel advice from vets
Given the likelihood that things with change for the UK in the coming months the majority of vets are advising pet passport applicants and holders to go through the process as if the UK was going to face a no-deal Brexit. This means you are prepared for the worst-case scenario and any plans you have cannot be ruined because you are 100% covered for your holiday.
Brexit and Pet Travel
If and when Article 50 is triggered there will be two possible outcomes for the UK. We will either become a Part 1 Listed country or a Part 2 Listed country.
Part 1 Listed
If the UK becomes a Part 1 country then the following rules will apply if you want to travel with your pet in the EU:
- Rabies vaccination
- Dogs treated for tapeworm
- Specific UK Pet passport
- Valid for life as long as rabies boosters up to date
Part 2 Listed
If the UK becomes a Part 2 country then the following rules will apply if you want to travel with your pet in the EU:
- Rabies vaccination
- Dogs treated for tapeworm
- Health certificate 10 days before travel
- New health certificate every time entering the EU
What happens if I am travelling and a deal or no-deal Brexit occurs?
If you follow the advice of your vet by preparing for the worst-case scenario in terms of pet travel, a no-deal Brexit, you will be completely fine to continue your travels as normal. Your pet will be medically covered on their passport as if they were travelling from an unlisted country. A no-deal Brexit would mean the UK becomes unlisted, meaning your pet will be able to continue their jaunt without any issues whatsoever. By preparing your pet following the guidance of your vet you will be protected from any political eventuality and you can roam freely and re-enter the UK as normal.