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Info Guides

Our pet Info Guides are there to help you understand better your pets and pet-related issues, from advice about dogs and hotels to vets and pet insurance. If there's a topic we've not covered and you'd like to see, please contact us.

Taking Your Pet Abroad

Taking your pet overseas to certain countries is now possible without months of quarantine.  The pets travel scheme, known as PETS for short, permits pets to travel with you subject to certain conditions.  See the list of countries the PETS scheme applies to (link to country list).

TRAVELLING TO/FROM THE UK WITH YOUR CAT, DOG (including assistance dogs) OR FERRET

Legal requirements:

To travel under the PETS scheme, your pet must:

  • Be fitted with a microchip (link to microchip guide);
  • Be vaccinated against rabies;
  • Have a negative blood test by an EU approved laboratory (to show your pet does not have rabies);
  • Have a pet passport (this is issued by your vet);
  • Be treated for ticks and tapeworms not less than 24 hours and not more than 48 hours before the journey back to the UK; and
  • Travel via PETS approved sea, air and rail routes (link to PETS approved carriers guide)

Points to look out for:

The rabies vaccination must be administered only after your pet has been fitted with a microchip. If you do it the wrong way round, you'll need to get your pet vaccinated again! 

Make sure your vet records these details on your pet's passport and on a vaccination record:

  • your pet's date of birth/age,
  • the microchip number, date of insertion and its location in your pet,
  • the date of vaccination,
  • the vaccine manufacturer, product name and batch number and
  • the date by which the booster vaccination must be given (i.e. the "Valid until" date).

Your pet must also have all its booster jabs and these must also be recorded on your pet's passport and vaccination card.

An official certificate of treatment for tapeworm/ticks is required from the country in which treatment is carried out.  This must be signed, dated and include date and time of treatment. 

You must also sign a declaration of residency in the UK.  If your vet isn't able to issue you a pet passport, s/he will refer you to a vet who can.

Timing:

Your pet may not enter/re-enter the UK under the Scheme until 6 calendar months have passed from the date of the negative blood test. 

In other words, you have to go to your vet for the microchip and rabies vaccination, then again to get the blood test done (this is usually 2 weeks after the vaccination) then wait 6 months before you can bring your cat or dog back into the UK. 

This means you need to plan a minimum of 7 months in advance of your travel - taking your pet outside the UK isn't a problem but bringing them back in might be!

TRAVELLING TO/FROM THE UK WITH YOUR RABBITS GUINEA PIG, HAMSTER OR BIRDS:

EU legislation now allows rabbits, birds (except poultry), ornamental tropical fish, reptiles and rodents such as guinea pigs and mice to travel too - and you don't need a Pet Passport to transport them. 

You can bring in these animals from any part of the EU, Andorra, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Norway, San Marino, Switzerland and the Vatican.

TAKING CARE OF YOUR PET WHEN TRAVELLING

These are our Take Your Pet tips (with thanks to government and RSPCA guidance) to help make your pet's journey as comfortable as possible:

General tips

  • Make sure your pet is as fit and healthy as possible to withstand the journey
  • Plan your journey carefully, allowing regular stops to exercise your pet
  • Take a sufficient amount of your pet's usual food and enough water for the journey
  • Ensure your pet carries an identity disc that includes your holiday address
  • Give your pet a light meal about two hours before travel
  • If you feed your pet within two hours of travel, this can cause travel sickness
  • Ensure you're familiar with the PETS scheme requirements
  • Identify a veterinary practice overseas that can issue your pet with a certificate of treatment for parasites within 48 hours of your return journey to the UK

Tips for car travel

  • Acclimatise your pet by taking it on short car trips before embarking on a long journey
  • Ensure your vehicle is well ventilated and cool en route, including during ferry crossings
  • Make sure your dog is always on a lead when you are exercising it
  • Some transport carriers will also insist that dogs are muzzled so check in advance

Tips for carrying your pet in a container

  • Give your pet the opportunity to go to the toilet before it is put in its carrying container
  • Let your pet 'try out' the carrying container before the trip
  • The carrying container should be well-ventilated, roomy enough for your pet to move around, safe, and have adequate food and water for the trip, with easily-refillable containers for a long journey
  • Put a familiar-smelling cushion or rug in the container to help your pet settle

Suggested pet travel packing list

  • Bed/blanket/cat basket
  • Collar with holiday destination and home ID discs
  • Bowls for food/water
  • Lead & muzzle (if required)
  • Plenty of food/water for trip and first few days on holiday
  • Litter supplies/doggy poop bags
  • Brush/comb
  • Cleaning wipes for you & your pet
  • Disinfectant
  • Your pet's toys
  • Pet passport and all required pet documentation

WHICH COUNTRIES DOES THE PETS SCHEME APPLY TO?

The PETS scheme applies to many countries you'll have heard of, and some you may never have heard of too!  This is the current list, but it's always worth checking if the list has been updated.  The up-to-date list can be found at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) website www.defra.gov.uk/animalh/quarantine/pets/index.htm

A -          Andorra, Antigua & Barbuda, Argentina, Aruba, Ascension Island, Australia, Austria, Azores

B -           Balearic Islands, Bahrain, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Bermuda, Bosnia-Herzegovina, British Virgin Islands, Bulgaria

C -           Canada, Canary Islands, Cayman Islands, Ceuta, Chile, Croatia, Cyprus (not North Cyprus), Czech Republic

D -          Denmark

E -           Estonia

F -           Falkland Islands, Faroe Islands, Fiji, Finland, France, French Guiana, French Polynesia

G -          Germany, Gibraltar, Greece, Greenland, Grenadines, Guadeloupe - includes St Barthelemy and St Martin (French part of the island), Guam

H -          Hawaii, Hong Kong, Hungary

I -            Iceland, Ireland, Italy

J -            Japan

L -           Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg,

M -         Madeira, Malaysia, Malta, Martinique, Mauritius, Mayotte, Melilla, Mexico, Monaco, Montserrat

N -          Netherlands, Netherlands Antilles, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Norway

P -           Poland, Portugal

R -           Reunion, Romania, Russian Federation

S -           San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, St Helena, St Kitts & Nevis, St Pierre & Miquelon, St Vincent, Sweden, Switzerland

T -           Taiwan, Trinidad and Tobago

U -          United Arab Emirates, USA (mainland)

V -          Vanuatu, Vatican

W -         Wallis & Futuna

Special cases

Australia  - Cats travelling from Australia must be accompanied by a certificate certifying that they have not been on a holding where Hendra disease has been confirmed in the 60 days prior to departure. The certificate must be completed by the Australian government veterinary services and show the cat's microchip number.

Channel Islands & Isle of Man - Pets that have first entered the British Isles under PETS can then travel between the UK, the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man (and the Republic of Ireland) without the need for extra documentation.  However, you should take your PETS documents with you in case you need to show them.

Cyprus - Republic of Cyprus only.  If you take your pet into Northern Cyprus, you will have to put it into quarantine for 6 months on returning to the UK.

Ireland - There are special rules governing movement of pets directly between the UK and the Republic of Ireland.  No preparation or documentation is necessary.

Jamaica - Although Jamaica is a qualifying country under the EU Regulations Jamaican law currently prevents the involvement of that country in PETS.  PETS-prepared animals may not enter Jamaica and animals may not be prepared for PETS in Jamaica.

The Russian Federation - The Russian Federation consists of 88 subjects (regions). The following Republics are NOT part of the Russian Federation; Moldova, Georgia, Ukraine, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.

Malaysia - The import into UK of dogs and cats from Malaysia (Peninsula) is prohibited unless health certification provided by the Malaysian veterinary authorities is provided which confirms that the cat or dog:

  • has had no contact with pigs during at least 60 days prior to export;
  • has not been resident on holdings where during the past 60 days any case of Nipah disease has been confirmed; and
  • has had a negative Nipah disease virus result to an IgC capture ELISA test carried out in an approved laboratory on a sample of blood taken within 10 days of export.

Sweden - your pet does not need to have had a rabies jab to enter Sweden from the UK.  However your pet must be treated for tapeworms with a product containing praziquantel no more than 10 days before entry.

Other countries

Countries that are not listed have not (yet) been included in the PETS scheme.  Quarantine rules still apply.  Pets must not have been outside any of the PETS countries listed above in the 6 calendar months before travelling to the UK.

If during your journey to the UK your pet transits an unlisted country it must remain within the perimeter of the airport of that country or secured within the vessel if travelling by sea. You will need a letter from the transport company to confirm this.

How many pets can you travel with?

Within the EU, there are no limits but if you are bringing your pets into the EU from most non-EU listed countries, the maximum number of all types of pet animals each person may bring is five. This rule does not apply to animals brought from Andorra, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Norway, San Marino, Switzerland or the Vatican.

What happens when you travel to the UK?

Before you board a ferry or Eurotunnel train travelling to the UK, your pet and its documents will be examined.  Guide dogs travelling on Eurostar are checked at St Pancras International.  If everything is in order, you will be given a badge or sticker to display.  You should not take this off until after you have left the port of arrival in the UK.

If your pet is travelling by air, the checks will be done at the airport in the UK, at the Animal Reception Centre.

What happens if your pet fails the checks?

Your pet will not be allowed to travel if it fails the checks, unless you put it into quarantine.  If it has already arrived in the UK, it will be re-exported (or put into quarantine). 

If your pet arrives by air and only fails because it hasn't met the rules on tick/tapeworm treatment, this can be dealt with at Heathrow (or the local quarantine premises) and will be held for 24 hours after treatment.

Why does your pet need to have a microchip?

Under the PETS scheme, an animal has to be identified by an electronic microchip. A clearly readable tattoo is also acceptable until July 2011, except if you are taking your animal to Ireland, Malta and the United Kingdom where a microchip is already required.

Getting a pet passport overseas

You can get your pet's passport in any EU country.  Usually a local vet will provided the passport, in the same way as in the UK.  The same information will be included.

It is also possible to get a 'Third Country Official Veterinary Certificate' in a non-EU country that is party to the PETS scheme.  The certificate must be a single sheet in English and may also contain a translation in another language.  It must be completed in block letters in the language of the EU country of entry or in English.  You will need to show your pet's vaccination record and proof that it has been microchipped.

You need to take great care with time limits.  A pet may not enter the UK for 6 calendar months after the Third Country Official Veterinary Certificate has been issued (and a blood sample was taken).  However, the Certificate is only valid for 4 months for entry into the UK.  You must make sure you get the certificate a month or two before you travel to make sure it is valid for when you enter the UK.

Dog restrictions

Don't forget that the UK has banned certain 'dangerous' dog breeds.  See the Defra website at

http://www.defra.gov.uk/animalh/welfare/domestic/dogs.htm for the list of banned dogs.  Other countries may have similar rules or may insist that your dog is muzzled when travelling.  Always check with whoever you are travelling with what their rules are on transporting animals.

PETS APPROVED TRANSPORT

You must book your trip with one of the many PETS-approved carriers, on a PETS-approved route. There is only a limited amount of space and it is allocated on a first come first served basis. You must book in advance, as your pet will not be allowed to travel without a prior booking.  You must also show your tapeworm/tick treatment certificate. Without this certificate, many carriers will not permit pets on board.

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

PETS approved carriers

A list of recognized carriers can be found on the DEFRA website.  Here are the ones we've found so far:

Air

Click here for the PDF on approved air carriers within the EU:

 http://www.defra.gov.uk/animalh/quarantine/pets/pdf/eu-air.pdf

See List 2 below for the approved air carriers from outside the EU

Rail

France to UK: Calais (Coquelles) to Folkestone (Cheriton) via Eurotunnel Shuttle Service

Ferries

Most ferry companies will only accept pets in a vehicle, not with foot passengers, unless otherwise stated.  You should telephone the ferry company in advance to check.  See List 3 below for approved ferry companies and routes.  You can also travel from New York City to Southampton on the Carnival QM2.

Each country has its own list of authorised carriers for pet transportation.  These are the lists for the UK.  The list for Ireland can be found at:

http://www.agriculture.gov.ie/index.jsp?file=pets/approved_carriers.xml.   Ireland also operates the EU PETS scheme but permits pets from the UK, Isle of Man and Channel Islands into Ireland without quarantine or documentation.

PETS approved routes

Your pet may travel to the UK via any qualifying country or countries.   Unfortunately, there are currently no approved routes to the UK from the following PETS countries:

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

Non-EU countries:  Andorra, Aruba, Ascension Island, British Virgin Islands, Chile, Belarus, Bosnia Herzegovina, Fiji, French Polynesia, Grenadines, Guam, Liechtenstein, Mayotte, Monaco, Montserrat, New Caledonia, St Helena, St Pierre & Miquelon, St Vincent, San Marino, Taiwan, Trinidad & Tobago, Vanuatu, Vatican, Wallis & Futuna.

You will have to find an approved indirect route to the UK from any of these countries.

Getting back to the UK

On arrival in the UK, transport staff will check your pet passport to ensure the requirements of the PETS scheme have been met. If there is missing paperwork or if your pet has not been prepared correctly it may be taken into UK quarantine or returned to the country from which it has just come.

Travelling with registered assistance dogs

Registered assistance dogs must also travel under the PETS scheme.  The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association, in partnership with other UK assistance dog organisations, DEFRA and a number of UK airlines have produced a set of guidelines for registered assistance dog owners wishing to travel under PETS.

Pets entering the UK on airlines under PETS must normally be carried in the hold. However, there is an exemption to allow guide dogs or other assistance dogs to travel in the cabin with their owner on certain approved routes.

See http://www.defra.gov.uk/animalh/quarantine/pets/procedures/support-info/assistance.htm for further details on travelling with registered assistance dogs.

© Take Your Pet Limited March 2009

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