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Pet passports – an animal lover’s guide


Everyone needs a holiday and that includes your pets. It just wouldn’t be the same if they had to stay at home.


But happily, under the DEFRA (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) pet travel scheme (called PETS) it’s easier than ever for Rover and Tibbles to enjoy a break.

What is the PETS scheme?

The PETS scheme, commonly known as the Pet Passport, was designed so that pets can be moved freely between certain participating countries. The scheme applies to cats, dogs and ferrets.

It means that people in the UK can take their pets to other EU countries and then return with them, without their pets having to spend several months in quarantine.

Cats, dogs and ferrets no longer have to spend long periods of time away from their owners, providing they meet certain criteria. These restrictions are based on rules, which are in place to ensure the UK is kept free from rabies and other diseases.

Can all of my pets come?

An EU law was introduced on 27 May 2010 to limit the number of pets that can be moved between EU countries under the Pet Passport scheme. Only five pets per owner can be taken through at any one time. For pets entering from non-EU countries, this limit has been in place since 2004.

What are pet passports?

The actual Pet Passport is a document that contains details relating to your pet’s health and vaccination history.

It needs to contain details of your pet’s microchip number and evidence of an up-to-date rabies injection and a blood test confirming that the vaccination has taken effect.

What are the rules of the PETS scheme?

All countries that are members of the PETS scheme require:

  • Evidence of a certified rabies vaccination

  • A subcutaneous (under the skin) microchip implant

  • A blood test to check the vaccination has worked.

To comply with the regulations of the scheme, you need to make sure that the correct order has been followed: the microchip must be implanted and recorded, and then the animal must have the vaccination, followed by the blood test.

The owner’s responsibility of taking a pet on holiday

There’s nothing nicer than having your dog with you on holiday and the PETS scheme makes it a lot easier to take your faithful friend along.

But you do have to make sure all the documents are accurate and completed well ahead of time.

Cats, dogs and ferrets can only travel to other countries on certain sea, air and rail routes, so make sure you check in advance that your transport company is willing to allow your pet on board.

There are likely to be some extra charges, so find out these too. Some airlines allow pets to travel as hand luggage, others don’t allow them in the cabin at all, and the fees charged vary hugely.

Check the small print of your pet insurance documents, as cover abroad may be excluded.

Plan your trip ahead

It can take a few months to get all the paperwork together and it needs to be signed by an approved veterinary surgeon. Make sure you apply for the passport well in advance of travelling so you don’t experience any delays or extra fees further down the line. If the paperwork isn’t correct when you’re travelling, you risk your pet being taken into quarantine, and you’ll have to pay charges for this.

Where to get further details on the scheme

Your vet should be able to provide the documentation for the pet passport. You can also contact the PET Travel Scheme Helpline on 0870 241 1710. For more information, visit the DEFRA website.

photo: suchitra prints


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