As of the year 2000, the Pet Travel Scheme has allowed dogs, cats and ferrets to travel abroad with their owners. The UK accepts Pet Passports from all EU and a selection of non-EU countries, including Iceland, Norway and the Canary Islands.
It should come as no surprise, however, that taking a dog, cat or ferret abroad is not as easy as taking them with you to the airport and having them sit on your knee on the plane with zero questions asked. You need to plan travelling with your pet carefully; they can be at risk of contracting certain diseases when abroad, diseases not found in the UK that consequently, they will not be vaccinated against. In order to guarantee your pet’s safety – and the safety of any UK animals they may interact with after returning – you must follow a series of steps before you and your furry companion jet off to somewhere exotic together.
Depending on where you’re going (and returning from), the rules can vary. Having said that, the following steps are pretty universal:
In order to be issued a pet passport, your pet MUST be microchipped. This ensures that they can be identified properly and matches the animal to their documentation. It should be done BEFORE a Rabies vaccination – if you don’t do this, they’ll need to be vaccinated again with a Rabies vaccine, post-microchip.
Airlines, train companies and ferries in the EU can scan microchips that meet ISO standards. If your pet’s microchip does not adhere to these, you might need to bring a reader along with you. We recommend contacting your travel company well in advance of your journey to find out more information. It’s also a good idea to have your pet’s microchip checked regularly, during their annual health check for example, to ensure it is reading correctly.
All Relevant Vaccinations
All pets travelling from (and returning to) the UK MUST be vaccinated against Rabies. There are no exceptions to this. If they’ve already had this vaccination prior to your decision to travel, you must be able to provide evidence that your dog, cat or ferret is up to date with their boosters.
To be issued with a passport, a pet must have been microchipped and vaccinated against Rabies.
Note: a pet cannot re-enter the UK until 21 days after their Rabies vaccination. If the vaccine is administered in 2 parts, this applies to the date of the 2nd treatment. This isn’t required for subsequent entries to the UK – providing you can prove boosters are up to date and the passport remains valid, i.e. the boosters for Rabies have been given within the specified revaccination timescale.
The Correct Documents
The documents you need differ depending on where you plan to travel. If you are entering the UK from outside of Europe (whether from a listed or non-listed country), you’ll need a third-country official veterinary certificate. Acquiring one of these is a complicated process and needs to be well planned.
With countries for which the UK accepts Pet Passports, your pet is entitled to a passport so long as you can provide proof that they have been microchipped and vaccinated against Rabies.
This is required for re-entering the UK with your pet. It applies to dogs only and, again, there are no exceptions. A vet must administer this treatment not less than 24 hours and not more than 120 hours (1-5 days) before your scheduled arrival time in the UK. This is to protect against a specific tapeworm entering the UK that we don’t see here at present.
We strongly suggest that you also protect your pet against other diseases that are absent in the UK but commonly seen abroad. Regular tick treatment can help prevent your pet contracting Babesiosis, and sand fly protection can help prevent leishmaniasis. Both of these diseases can be fatal.
Travelling abroad with your pet will require a good amount of preparation. As well as completing the tasks listed above, we strongly recommend that you research your destination and act accordingly. If you’re going somewhere really hot, for example, there will be other measures to take in order to keep your dog, cat or ferret comfortable. We would suggest you visit the PETS travel website for advice on the specific country you intend to visit and check for changes in their regulations.
Be sure, also, that you travel with an approved transport company and on an approved route.
Travelling can be incredibly stressful for pets – as can being plonked in an environment they aren’t familiar with. For this reason, we recommend that unless you absolutely have to take your dog, cat or ferret on a plane, you leave them in a kennel or with a friend/family member who you trust to take great care of them.
If you want to know more about travelling with your pets, or would like advice on any of the treatments listed in this post, don’t hesitate to contact us right away.
You can also find more information here.