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.


12 weeks of age (minimum)


Rabies Vaccination

Tapeworm Treatment

Pet Passport


12 weeks of age (minimum)


Rabies Vaccination

Pet Passport


12 weeks of age (minimum)


Rabies Vaccination

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.

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