Pets are like humans in more ways than you might think; they too need passports to go abroad.
Since February 2000, you can take cats, dogs and ferrets between the UK and other EU countries without them having to be quarantined. But first, you need to get this important document sorted out. So how do you go about it?
It's a legal document that has important information about your pet. The pet passport contains its date of birth, microchip number, information about you (the owner) and a description of the animal, all to help the authorities identify your pet.
Before you can take your pet abroad, or bring it to the UK, it has to have a number of medical tests and vaccinations. These are all listed in the passport too, such as proof of its rabies vaccination, a rabies blood test result and evidence of certain treatments, such as a tapeworm treatment for dogs. It will also have information on all the treatments your pet has received.
You can expect to pay around £150 and £250 for a pet passport.
Thanks to the Pet Travel Scheme, you can take your cat, dog or ferret in and out of the UK with a passport, as long as you are traveling to or from other EU countries. If you're travelling outside the EU, you will need to get a third-country official veterinary certificate.
When you arrive in the UK, at the airport, ferry port or Channel Tunnel, your pet passport will be checked, signed and stamped by an official.
If your pet is refused entry to the UK, it will be kept in quarantine until any necessary treatment has been successfully completed. In some cases, it may be deported to the country you travelled from, or in extreme cases, put to sleep.
If you need to bring more than five pets into the UK in one go, you'll need to get a different piece of documentation, which is more detailed.
Lots of vets can issue pet passports, but you'll need to check with your local surgery. If they don't issue pet passports, they should be able to point you in the direction of one that does.
You'll need to book an appointment then take in your pet, along with their vaccination and medical records. Every pet must be microchipped and have a rabies vaccination before a passport can be issued, and some animals might need to have had some treatments.
Your pet will need to be at least 15 weeks old before it can travel, even if it has a passport.
Until 1 January 2021, everything stays the same for travelling to Europe with your pet. It’s not yet known what will happen after that date as the UK will need to be listed in the EU Pet Travel Scheme by the European Commission. There are three categories and depending which we’re listed under the requirements for pet travel will change.
To make sure your pet can travel to the EU after 1 January 2020, contact your vet at least four months before for the latest advice.
You can also find out more about the categories and requirements on the pet travel to Europe after Brexit page on the government website.
Taking your dog on a flight is an extra challenge that requires careful planning. The International Air Transport Association Live Animal Regulations mean air travel operators offering to carry animals must make sure conditions are right for pets.
Still, the unfamiliar environment and sensation of travelling by plane can be stressful for some dogs. Other than registered assistance dogs, all animals will need to travel in the hold, which could be closed for longer than you expect if your flight is delayed.
Make sure the container your pet will be travelling in is big enough to allow them to lie down and turn without discomfort. Put their blanket or a familiar toy in there to comfort them.
Check your airline’s pet travel policy, and make sure they carry animals via the government’s official list of pet travel approved airlines.
Ferries are similarly regulated – your dog will likely have to stay in the car or in a designated container area. Again, you should check your ferry company’s pet policy for specific details, and make sure they’re an approved operator for travelling with pets via the government’s pet travel sea and rail route list.
Consider if taking your pet with you is the best thing for them. Many pets can become stressed by travelling and find it hard to adapt to a new routine and environment. Would it be better to leave them in the care of someone responsible at home?
If you decide to bring your pet with you, check your holiday destination has the essential facilities you’ll need for your pet. Check if you’re able to get your pet’s regular food while away, and plan to take plenty with you if you can’t.
Check the company you’re travelling with accepts pets for travel and find out what documentation you need to bring proving your pet is fit for travel. It can take a while to get this documentation so plan ahead to make sure you meet all the relevant deadlines.
If you’re in any doubt about how your dog will cope with going on holiday, consult a vet – they’ll be able to advise on the best options for you and your pet.
Yes, it will need to have had the rabies jab before it can travel, and you'll need to wait at least 21 days after the vaccination before going abroad. Just bear in mind that your pet must be at least 12 weeks old before getting the rabies vaccination. You'll also need to make sure it has been microchipped either before the jab or at the same time, otherwise it will need to be vaccinated again.
If you're going to an unlisted area that's not protected by the Pet Travel Scheme, there are a few more rules to follow. At least 30 days after the jab, the vet will need to take a blood sample from your pet and send it off to an approved lab, where it will be tested to see if the vaccination has worked. You'll get the test results from the vet and they will have to log this in your pet's third-country official veterinary certificate. You'll then have to wait another three months before you can bring your pet to the UK.
You'll need to book your pet in for regular booster vaccinations to keep them protected against rabies. Your vet should keep your pet's vaccination record up to date, but it's worth checking it to make sure.
Before coming to the UK, even if you've been on holiday for a week, you'll need to get your dog treated for tapeworms. Make sure you get it treated at least 24 hours before the time you're going to enter the UK, and within five days. Without proof of the treatment, your dog won't be able to come into the country. Missing this timeframe is the most common reason dogs get refused entry.
Pet insurance is essential when taking your pet abroad or bringing them into the UK. A lot of insurers have cover for pets overseas but do check that this is included in your policy before you travel.
While your pet may be covered for expenses abroad, your insurer might have a certain list of countries where your pet is not covered, and you could also be charged a lot of excess. If you travel with your pets a lot, it's worthwhile choosing a policy that fully covers you for a number of additional costs, even those that are unexpected.
Insurance Factory Ltd
For pet insurance, Admiral introduce to Insurance Factory Ltd who arrange and administer the policy. Insurance Factory Ltd is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (No. 306164). Registered in England and Wales Number 02982445. Registered Office: 45 Westerham Road, Bessels Green, Sevenoaks, Kent, TN13 2QB. The policy is underwritten by Zenith Insurance plc, registered in Gibraltar No. 84085 with registered office address: 846 - 848 Europort, Gibraltar. Zenith Insurance plc is authorised by the Gibraltar Financial Services Commission and subject to a limited regulation by the Financial Conduct Authority and Prudential Regulation Authority in respect of underwriting business in the UK (No: 211787).