HOW TO GET A PET PASSPORTEverything you need to know about travelling to & from the UK with your pet
Please remember this information is not a substitute for the advice of your own vet. Read the official government advice for further details.
Summer is the perfect opportunity to take a vacation with your pet in tow, but remember – you will need a pet passport for your dog, cat, or ferret if they will be travelling to the UK from an EU country or another country that the UK accepts pet passports from.
The Pet Travel Scheme
The Pet Travel Scheme (PETS) allows pet dogs, cats, and ferrets to enter the UK without quarantine, as long as they meet the conditions of the scheme. UK pet owners can also take their dogs, cats, and ferrets abroad and bring them back into the UK without the need for quarantine, provided their pets meet the conditions of the scheme. The general requirements for exports from the UK to EU countries are:
- Microchip (or legible tattoo imprinted prior to 3 July 2011)
- Rabies vaccination (pet must be at least 12 weeks of age)
- 21 day wait before being eligible to travel to other EU countries
- Pet passport (read the official government advice for further details)
Who can issue a pet passport?
A passport can be issued to your pet at your veterinary surgeon by an Official Veterinarian (OV) (OCQ(V)CA or SX). Official vets (OVs) are veterinary surgeons appointed by the government to carry out authorised duties on its behalf. Check with your veterinary practice if there is a vet working there with this qualification if you want to apply for a pet passport.
How long does it take to get a pet passport?
Make sure you apply with plenty of time! This process should be done in good time and not last minute – if your pet can’t meet the conditions of the pet passport, they may not be allowed to travel with you. Travel to countries outside of the EU, such as emigrating to Australia, and the various tests and paperwork associated with it can take several months to complete.
How to get a pet passport
- You must vaccinate your pet against rabies. The UK is rabies-free and therefore vaccination against rabies is vital to prevent reintroducing the disease. The vaccination should take place more than 21 days before travelling and your pet must be more than 12 weeks old to receive it. Different brands of vaccine last for different lengths of time. The vaccine must be an inactivated vaccine or recombinant vaccine that’s approved in the country of use.
- Your cat, dog, or ferret needs to be microchipped; it is now the law in the UK (from April 2016) that all dogs have to be microchipped. This is for identification purposes, in case your pet gets lost, and to guard against fraud. You must get your pet microchipped before, or at the same time as, their rabies vaccination. If you don’t, they’ll need to be vaccinated again.
- Once your pet has been microchipped and vaccinated against rabies you will be able to apply for a pet passport from your vet. Your vet will fill it out, and it will be valid for as long as your pet meets the UK entry requirements. However, it’s important to note that not all vets can issue pet passports, so check with your local vet or alternatively contact the Animal and Plant Health Agency for further information about vets authorised to administer pet passports in your area.
- You’ll need to take your pet, its identity and vaccination records, and any rabies blood test results (if you have them) when you get a pet passport.
- The passport is only valid if you meet the entry requirements. You don’t need to get a new style passport (issued from 29 December 2014) until all the treatment spaces are full.
- You should travel with previous pet passports in some cases, for example if your pet has had a blood test. Ask your vet if you think this applies to your pet.
- Only vets in countries that the UK accepts pet passports from can enter information into the pet passport (except for tapeworm treatments).
- A vet must treat your dog for tapeworm and record it in the pet passport or third-country official veterinary certificate every time you want to bring them to the UK.
- The treatment must have been given no less than 24 hours and no more than 120 hours (5 days) before you enter the UK. Your dog can be refused entry or put into quarantine if you don’t follow this rule.
- You don’t need to treat your dog for tapeworm if you’re coming directly to the UK from Finland, Ireland, Malta, or Norway.
- The treatment must be approved for use in the country it’s being given in and it must contain Praziquantel or an equivalent proven to be effective against the Echinococcus multilocularis tapeworm.
- 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 before re-entering the UK and return within 120 hours or you’ll need to get another treatment abroad.
- You should treat your dog again within 28 days of returning to the UK
- Check the vet has put the following details in the ‘Echinococcus treatment’ section of your dog’s pet passport or certificate: the name and manufacturer of the product, the date and time they treated your dog, and their stamp and signature.
Before you travel
Check that the vet has filled in the following sections in the pet passport:
- Details of ownership – you must sign section I if your pet passport was issued on or after 29 December 2014
- Description of animal
- Marking or identification of animal
- Vaccination against rabies
- Rabies blood test (if needed)
- Details of the vet issuing the passport (for passports issued from 29 December 2014)
- Your dog’s tapeworm treatment (if needed) – you must wait 21 days after the vaccination (or the last of the primary course of vaccinations) before bringing your pet to the UK from an EU country, or another country the UK accepts pet passports from
You can only use certain travel routes and companies to enter your pets into England, Scotland or Wales. You should always check the routes before you travel, as they can change or may only operate at certain times of the year.
Travelling with more than 5 pets
You can’t bring more than 5 pets to the UK unless you’re attending or training for a competition, show, or sporting event. You’ll need written evidence of registration for the event when you travel.
If you are travelling with more than 5 pets, they all must:
- be attending the event or training
- be over 6 months old
- meet the pet travel rules
You must also fill in a declaration confirming that you meet these requirements. If you’re arriving in Northern Ireland, you will use a different declaration form. If you want to travel with more than 5 pets that aren’t participating in or training for a competition then you will need to follow the commercial rules for importing animals.