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.
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.