taking your dog abroadOne of the first things people are concerned about when they are planning to move abroad is their pets. There are three main elements to this:

  1. What documentation does my pet need to travel? What vaccinations and medication are they required to have?
  2. What is the best way to move my pet to their new home? By air, boat, train or car?
  3. What does my pet need when they arrive at their new home? Aside from the basics which they will already have, what special needs will there new home bring – what dangers are there, what new vaccinations do they need, what laws are there to abide by?

We can term these preparation, moving and arrival. I will deal with each of these in separate posts starting with the preparation for the move.

Part I – Preparation: Documentation, vaccinations and medication

This information is for moving your pet out of Britain to Europe.  Other countries will require other documentation and treatment.  The best way to find this is to look for the governmental websites of the countries you are going to and leaving from.

Most of the EU, including the UK, are members of the Pet Travel Scheme (PETS).  The scheme is designed to stop the spread of rabies and other diseases while still allowing pets to travel. This means that if you sign up for this scheme you can avoid any lengthy quarantine stays when moving to and from the UK.

In most of the EU quarantine is not required but if you wish to go to the UK you will need a Pet Passport as part of the scheme in order to travel freely.  Even if you think that you are not going to return the UK it is always worthwhile getting your pet a passport should you need to return in a  hurry or even if you just wanted a record of your animal’s vaccinations and personal details.

To be eligible for a Pet Passport, your cat, dog or ferret must:

  • first be fitted with a microchip
  • then be vaccinated against rabies
  • wait 21 days from the date of their first rabies vaccination before travelling to another European Community country
  • not have visited any non-approved countries or territories for at least six months before they enter or re-enter the UK

Cats and dogs must also:

  • be blood tested with a satisfactory result by a European Union approved laboratory
  • wait six calendar months from the date the blood sample was taken before re-entering the UK

You must also ensure that your pet:

  • is issued with a pet passport by their vet
  • is treated by a vet for tapeworm and ticks, not less than 24 hours and not more than 48 hours before checking in with a PETS-approved carrier for the journey back to the UK
  • travels into the UK on a PETS-approved sea, air or rail route

There is more information about the PETS scheme here and DEFRA have also produced a leaflet entitled Pet Passport Tips which details the scheme and what you need to do.  For other animals such as horses there are separate arrangements which the site also details.

Please also be aware that the rules only govern the transport of up to 5 pets. Any more than this at one time is not allowed.

For information on taking pets into European countries, the European Union has a dedicated page which covers the EU and a number of non-member states such as Switzerland, Monaco and Norway. The main requirement for these countries is a valid rabies vaccination and a microchip. Both these items are covered by the Pet Passport.

The cost of a Pet Passport and the associated vaccinations can be quite high, in 2006 when I arranged the passport for my cat it cost around £90, I would expect this price to have increased by now.

Coming up next: Taking Your Pets Part II – Moving