Going on holiday? Your pet can pack too with their pet passport!
Travel with your pets can be a great experience, and Pet Passports mean that going away with your cat, dog or ferret has never been easier. Travelling with your pets, however, can be daunting, especially where the Pet Passport itself is concerned. Our guide below takes you through the process, and can help you keep your holiday plans as smooth as possible.
With Brexit approaching there may be changes to the Pet Passport scheme. Please keep an eye on our Brexit pet travel page to keep up to date with all the latest.
Don’t worry if anything seems confusing - the team at your local Vets4Pets practice will be more than happy to talk you through the process.
If your question isn’t answered below, more information on travelling with your pet can be found on the government Pet Travel website.
Pet Passport FAQ's
Your pet can only travel to certain countries with their passport.
Always make sure you check whether you are travelling to an EU or listed non-EU country or an unlisted non-EU country. EU countries and listed non-EU countries are approved for pet travel on the Pet Passport. Travel requirements for pets going to and from unlisted non-EU countries tend to be more complicated than the standard Pet Passport so make sure you check all the requirements for the country you are travelling to ahead of time.
In order to travel you will need to make sure your dog, cat or ferret:
- Has a valid Pet Passport
- Has had a microchip implanted – NOTE, the microchip must be implanted before (or at the same times as) the rabies vaccination
- Is at least 15 weeks old at the time of travelling
- Is vaccinated against rabies.
- Has been treated for tapeworm (dogs only)
There are extra rules if your cat, dog or ferret will be sold or rehomed in the UK after coming in from abroad.
While the other available vaccinations against disease such as parvo, distemper, leptospirosis and hepatitis are not necessary for travel on the Pet Passport, they can be recorded in your Pet Passport, and are recommended when travelling with your pet.
You cannot return to the UK until 21 days after your pet’s rabies vaccination is given when travelling from EU and listed countries. You must check the local travel rules for the country you are travelling to, as these can differ, and you may need to wait longer before you can travel. For example, to travel to France primary rabies vaccination must be administered no sooner than 21 days before entering France.
This means that it is sensible to get your pet’s passport at least a month before travel. That way, there is also time for your vet to issue the passport, which can take time, especially during busy summer periods.
For clarification of these rules, please contact your local Vets4Pets practice.
When booking your appointment for your Pet Passport, make sure to let whoever books your appointment know what you are coming in for – vets must take an extra qualification to be able to issue passports, so you may need to come in to see a specific vet and not letting the clinic know in advance what you need may result in disappointment if that vet is not working that day.
For unlisted countries your pet must have a rabies vaccination and then a blood test, which will be done at least 30 days after the original vaccination to check the vaccine success. If this result is successful, your pet can travel once three months have passed from the date of the blood test.
If the test is unsuccessful, another rabies vaccination will have to be started and the process begins again. If you are planning on travelling to an unlisted country, it is wise to start your preparations at least six months in advance, to account for time taken to process, waiting times and the possibility of vaccine failure and restarting the process.
Travel between countries must also be done only on approved transport routes and with approved companies. If you aren’t sure, or want to check your arrangements, contact the Pet Travel Scheme helpline (0370 241 1710) prior to making any travel plans to discuss any recent changes or specific restrictions regarding the country you are visiting.
- Have an up-to-date pet passport for your cat, dog or ferret. If your pet’s rabies vaccination has expired you won’t be able to travel, so make sure your pet has had a booster vaccination if they need one. Only the original document will be accepted – no photocopies!
- Check your pet’s passport contains all the required information. This includes: details of ownership (including your signature), a description of your pet, their microchip number and any other distinguishing features, a vet-signed and in-date rabies vaccination (including the batch number of the vaccine, the manufacturer and product name, and the date the vaccination will expire), details of the vet issuing the passport and details of your dog’s tapeworm treatment if required, which should also be signed by a vet.
- Check your travel company accepts pets. Not all travel companies accept pets, or may only accept pets if they are caged in a certain way or meet certain requirements. Making sure to clarify the travel arrangements for your pet with your train, ship or airline company is key to a smooth journey.
- Have any other documents. Some transport companies will require your pet to have a ‘fitness to travel’ certificate. Make sure you have one of these issued by your vet if you need one, within the time scale required by the transport company. Unlisted countries, for which Pet Passports are insufficient will need other documentation, which may include a third-country official veterinary certificate.
- Are using an approved route. Travel with pets using Pet Passports must be done only using approved transport routes and companies, unless you are coming to the UK from Ireland. An up-to-date list of approved routes and companies can be found here.
- Have any medication you need. Preventative parasite treatments are recommended for pets travelling abroad, and if you are travelling for more than a few weeks you may need to take top-ups with you. Dogs also need a tapeworm treatment given to them by a vet before they can re-enter the UK – you can get these from a vet in the country you are visiting, but you can also take this with you from your own vet if you prefer (although a qualified vet will still need to approve and give the treatment, and sign your pet’s passport). If your pet is on any long term medication, make sure you have it with you too.
- Check the rules for assistance dogs. Most pets will travel as cargo, but if your dog is an assistance dog then other rules will apply.
For cats and ferrets, you do not need to do anything differently while you are away in order to be able to bring your pet back into the UK with you – the Pet Passport is enough.
For dogs, you will need to get a tapeworm treatment administered to them while you are on your trip, as well as the Pet Passport you travelled out with.
This tapeworm treatment must be:
- Given by a vet.
- Recorded in your pet’s Pet Passport.
- Signed by a vet in your pet’s Pet Passport.
- Given no less than 24 hours and no more than 120 hours (5 days). before you enter the UK.
- Approved for use in the country it is being given in (you can bring a tapeworm treatment from home, but this must be approved by your vet on holiday else you will need to purchase a local product).
- Known to contain an ingredient which is effective against the Echinococcus multiocularis tapeworm (the most common being praziquantel).
You don’t need to treat your dog for tapeworm if you’re coming directly to the UK from Finland, Ireland, Malta or Norway.
If you’re leaving the UK for a short trip, your dog must be treated by a vet before you go. You must wait for 24 hours after the treatment before re-entering the UK and return within 120 hours (five days) or you’ll need to get another treatment abroad. You should treat your dog again within 28 days of returning to the UK.
If you want to travel separately from your pet, please note your pet must arrive in the UK within five days either side of you, else you will have to follow different rules. You can authorise someone else to travel with your pet with a written declaration.
The main purpose of the scheme is to keep the UK free from rabies and certain foreign parasites. Many of these exotic problems are not easily treated and can prove fatal. We would therefore recommend that you book an appointment for us to issue your pet with a Pet Passport and have a discussion about protecting your pet from disease while on holiday.