Taking Your Pets Abroad- What Are The Rules?

If you are thinking of taking a furry friend with you on your trip or move abroad you will need to be aware of the regulations surrounding the movement of pets.

The regulations applicable to you and your pet will vary depending on the destination country and you should make sure you fully understood the requirements before you finalise your plans.

The regulations discussed below apply only to dogs, cats (and ferrets!). For other pets you should check the applicable national rules.

Travelling within the EU (or into the EU from another listed country*)

If you are an EU national, under the EU pet travel scheme you can freely travel within the EU with your cat, dog or ferret if it has a European Pet Passport.

For your pet to qualify for entry into the EU country without the need for quarantine, they must have a pet passport which shows that they have been:

  • micro-chipped
  • vaccinated against rabies
  • treated by a vet against tapeworm (this one applies to dogs only)

Make sure that your pet receives the rabies vaccination at least 21 days before you plan to travel and that the vaccination is received after your pet has been micro-chipped – otherwise the vaccination will not count for the passport purposes!

A pet passport must be issued by an Official Veterinarian (OV). If your vet does not have an OV at their practice, they should be able to advise you how to contact the nearest one.

Some minor changes are being introduced the EU pet travel scheme on 29 December 2014. The main changes are that a new style pet passport will be introduced (although the old style ones will remain valid for the life of the pet) and the introduction of pet passport checks when entering EU countries. For more details see Changes to Pet Travel Scheme.

Traveling into (or returning to) the EU from a non listed country**

If you are bringing your cat, dog or ferret to the UK or other EU country from a non listed country, they will need to have been:

  • issued with an official third country Veterinary Certificate
  • micro-chipped
  • vaccinated against rabies
  • treated by a vet against tapeworm  (this one applies to dogs only)

In addition to this your pet should have a blood test to show that the rabies vaccination was successful. The vet must take the blood sample at least 30 days after the rabies vaccination was given. Your vet should give you a copy of the blood test.

Unless your pet was vaccinated, blood tested and given a EU pet passport before travelling to the non-listed country, you will have to wait until at least 3 months from the date the blood sample was taken before your pet can travel.

The mandatory requirement to quarantine pets from certain countries ceased on 1 January 2012. If however a pet fails to meet these entry requirements when it arrives in the UK, the pet will usually be placed in quarantine at the owner’s expense until disease-control requirements have been met.

Travelling into a Non-EU country

Depending on you destination country there may be additional requirements to bring your pet into the country such as import permits, health certificates, additional vaccinations and blood tests. The destination country may also impose certain quarantine rules.

Before finalising your travel plans you should contact the appropriate authorities in your destination country to get specific information about what is required.

Transporting your pet

Your pet must travel in a container that complies with the International Air Transport Association (IATA) regulations. All containers are scanned for security purposes prior to pets being placed inside.

Certain other basic conditions will also need to be met before your pet is able to travel, for example they must travel via an approved air, sea or rail route with an approved carrier.

To ensure that you are not parted from your beloved four-legged friend for longer than necessary you should ensure you understand what is required by your destination country and the relevant timescales involved well in advance of your planned travel.

* Click here for the list of EU listed and Non-EU listed countries

** a non-listed country is a country which has not been included in the list of EU or listed countries because of their higher rate of disease instances or less vigorous veterinary systems.

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