The Pet Travel Scheme (PETS) enables pet owners to get a Pet Passport and take your dog, cat or ferret abroad and back again.
This replaces quarantine and ensures your pet returns to the UK in good health.
The PETS scheme has been running since February 2000, and the main aim is to keep our country free from diseases transmitted by biting insects.
Thankfully diseases such as rabies are now extremely rare in this country but are common in over 150 other countries worldwide, so its essential that we continue to protect ourselves and our pets.
What is a Pet Passport?
This is an official document that is unique to your pet.
It includes their microchip number, details of ownership, and key information on their health and vaccination status.
The passport is used in the same format across Europe, although each country uses it differently. In the UK, we use it as the document proving your pet is free from disease and can, therefore, re-enter the UK. Elsewhere it’s a legal requirement that all cats, ferrets, and dogs must be officially registered, and the passport is their registration document.
To travel with your pet (who has to be over 12 weeks old to get a passport) you need to contact us and book an appointment to have a passport issued.
Please allow plenty of time to arrange your pet passport, especially if your pet hasn’t had a rabies vaccination before as they can’t travel for 21 days after the initial vaccination
Your pet passport will include:
- Details of ownership
- Description of the pet
- Identification information (microchip number)
- Vaccination against rabies
- Rabies blood test (if needed – we’ll advise you once we know which country you’ll be travelling back to the UK from)
- Details of the vet issuing the passport
- Your dog’s tapeworm treatment (if needed)
You don’t need to have tick treatment in order to be issued with a passport, but we do strongly suggest you use protection against them whilst abroad and will recommend the most effective products when you come in. Ticks can pass on some very nasty zoonotic (can be passed to us) diseases, and there have been reports of these being on the increase in the UK as a result of pets travelling without suitable treatment.
It’s essential that you get a pet passport before travelling.
You’ll need to produce the document at borders. If you can’t produce one your pet may be put into quarantine for a period of up to 4 months, and if you arrive by sea they can be refused entry or re-entry into the country. There are hefty charges and fees for this, and you will be responsible for paying them all.
Pet travel: Is there anything else I should know about?
Before you go, make sure that whoever you are travelling with accommodates animals. Air travel is particularly complex as only certain commercial airlines are approved to fly animals into the UK, and those that are having very strict regulations. Your pet will need to travel as cargo on a plane unless they’re an assistance animal such as a guide dog, in which case exceptions are sometimes made.
You will need to travel at around the same time as your pet as they must arrive in the UK no more than 5 days before or after you. If this isn’t going to be possible you will need to follow different rules to the pet passport scheme as its likely to be considered importing livestock.
Always book your pet’s transport through a reputable, DEFRA-authorised pet transport company to make sure things go smoothly.
What other health dangers are associated with pet travel that the passport might not protect us against?
The vaccination required for the passport is rabies, but biting parasitic insects abroad can pass on other diseases that are hard to treat and can have nasty consequences.
Delaware Vets strongly recommend you protect your pet against ticks and fleas by using both a repellent and a systemic product (one that goes into their skin to kill anything that bites) whilst you’re away.
We will discuss options with you at your appointment and recommend which products will be most effective
You get all year round parasite control (Fleas, mites and ticks) included as part of our Healthy Pet Scheme
What else can I do to make sure travelling goes smoothly?
Before you go it helps to get prepared to help make the journey – and the holiday if that’s the reason for travel – as enjoyable as possible for everyone.
We’ve made a useful list of top tips to help with this:
- If your pet takes any medications regularly, make sure you have enough with you to last the holiday. It’s a lot easier than trying to find a local vet who has the same thing and is happy to prescribe with no history.
- Have our phone number stored in your phone in case of emergencies. We’re always happy to help where we can.
- Pack your pet’s brush so you can check their coat and tackle any knotted coats in keen swimmers! As well as their familiar bedding and toys.
- Take your normal pet food with you, and enough to last. Changing diet can be unsettling to them in an already unfamiliar environment and will cause upset stomachs. Take some favourite treats for the journey too. A sturdy chew is a great time-killer for dogs during long trips.
- Take food and water bowls with you.
- Take an extra portable water bowl for the journeys and day trips. You can get some that fold away into a very small space and these are well worth buying. It’s particularly important in hot countries where they’ll quickly get dehydrated, especially as they’re getting used to it.
- Don’t forget their lead, poo bags, and ideally a spare lead and collar
- Although they’re microchipped it’s a good idea to get an ID tag for their collar (plus a spare). This should have your mobile number if it works abroad, and/or the address and phone number of where you’re staying
- If you’re taking your dog away, consider a GPS tracking device such as Tractive so if they do wander off you can track them online.
- Before you travel, get together a list of dog-friendly places to visit including attractions, parks, restaurants and cafes.
- Get together a basic first aid kit for your pet including antiseptic wipes and a tick removal tool
- If you are taking a car or hiring one there (check with hire companies before you book that they will accept pets in their cars) take a dog seat-belt with you
Do non-European countries have different requirements?
Yes. Before you go, make sure you check whether you are travelling to an EU – or listed non-EU – country. If you aren’t, then organising travel requirement for your pet tends to be more complex than just obtaining a Pet Passport so make sure you check all the requirements well ahead of time.
For example, Australia and New Zealand requiring blood samples to be taken about 1 month before travel.
Do make sure you get in touch with us to discuss your plans well in advance to make sure we can get all the required tests done in good time.
For further information check the website of the appropriate national Government department.
In the UK, this is the GOV.uk Website: https://www.gov.uk/take-pet-abroad
Do you need a pet passport?
If you’d like to talk to us about travelling with your and/or need a passport, call your nearest practice:
Castle Cary: 01963 350307
Yeovil: 01935 474690
Don’t forget… as a Healthy Pet Scheme member you will benefit from discounts on required elements such as the rabies vaccine and parasite protection.
If you’re not already a member and would like to find out more, click the button below…