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The Pet Travel Scheme (Pet Passports)

The Pet Travel Scheme was first introduced on the 28th February 2000 and it permits companion animals to travel between participating countries without the need for quarantine. The scheme covers all types of companion animals, but this article is focused specifically on dogs. The Pet Travel scheme can be quite involved and this article is only intended to outline the main points.

Which countries are part of the Pet Travel Scheme?

Originally just selected European countries where included in the scheme, but since its introduction, the number of countries now included within the Pet Travel Scheme has grown to 75. These are listed below:

European Countries within the Pet travel Scheme

Austria Belgium Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark
Denmark Estonia Finland France Germany
Greece Hungary Iceland Italy Latvia
Lithuania Malta Netherlands Poland Portugal
Slovenia Spain Sweden    

Non European Countries within the Pet travel Scheme

Andorra Antigua & Barbuda Aruba Ascension Australia
Bahrain Barbados Bermuda Canada Cayman
Faroe Fiji French Guyana French Polynesia Gibraltar
Greenland Grenadines Guadeloupe Hawaii Hong Kong
Liechtenstein Martinique Mauritius Mayotte Monaco
Montserrat New Caledonia New Zealand Norway Reunion
St Kitts & Nevis St Pierre & Miquelon St Vincent San Marino Singapore
United Arab Emirates USA (mainland) Vanuatu Vatican Wallis & Futana

How do I get a Pet Passport?

To get a Pet Passport through the Pet Travel Scheme you must think well in advance of your planned travel dates. The minimum period you can allow is 7 months, but as you will see, you would be well advised to plan considerable further ahead.

Your vet plays a vital role in gaining a Pet Passport and you are advised to contact them as early as possible and they will guide your through the details of the procedures.

The main steps in getting the Pet Passport are as following:

Step 1.
Microchipping
Your pet must be micro chipped as a prerequisite to gaining a pet passport. This is a very small microchip placed under the dogs skin, this microchip contains a unique identity number that can be used on all paperwork.
Step 2.
Rabies Vaccination
Your dog must be vaccinated against rabies and also have receive regular boosters to ensure continued immunity. Your timing on vaccinations is crucial, just missing dates by 1 day can result in the whole process commencing from the start.  
Step 3.
Blood Test
Your vet must test your dogs immunity to rabies approximately 30 days after the vaccination. This is achieve with a blood test and if the test shows there is insufficient rabies antibodies, a further vaccination is required and another blood test after 30 days.
Step 4.
Health Check
After a positive blood test is achieved, you have to make a further visit to your vet. The vet carries out a health check and then issues the pet passport along with a copy of the blood test result. The pet passport will last for the life time of your dog.

How to ensure re-entry into the UK?

As we discussed earlier, advanced planning is crucial when considering taking your pet abroad. Your dog will not be allowed back into the UK until 6 months after a positive blood test (see Step 3 above). After this 6 month period, they can leave and enter the country assuming the following:

  • You have a valid Pet Passport: To continue to be valid, you must ensure the rabies booster vaccinations are completely up to date. Remember, miss a booster vaccination by only 1 day will result in the whole blood testing process to start again.
  • Your Pet Passport must show your dog has been treated for tapeworms between 24 and 48 hours prior to re-entry. You will obviously need to get this done by a local overseas vet and ensure your passport is correctly updated. Entry back into the UK will be denied if you don’t get this timing right, so think ahead and book a vet appointment well in advance.
  • Your dog will only be allowed entry to the UK if it has travelled with an approved transport company. So check this out prior to travelling. You cannot bring your dog back on a private boat or plane.

Finally, if your return journey to the UK passes through a country that is not part of the PETS scheme, then you will need to get a declaration from the transport company to certify that a). Your dog remained on the ship or within the perimeter of the airport, and b). Your dog did not come into contact with any other animals during that part of the journey.

For more comprehensive details on the Pet Passport Scheme please visit the Pet Travel Scheme on the DEFRA (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) website.