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Pet passports

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All you need to know about pet passports

Brits wanting to take their pets abroad used to have to put them in quarantine for a period, causing misery to both the animal and owner.

But times have changed, and fortunately, provided you comply with the Pet Travel Scheme (PETS) you can take your dog, cat – or even ferret – abroad with you, so you don’t have face the worry of placing them in quarantine.

The number is limited to five per person for EU member states. If you have more than five pets, or other animals, check the www.defra.gov.uk website for a wealth of advice on PETS, as more than five may be transported provided certain conditions are met.

What do you need to do?

Depending on which country you’re going to, the criteria for the scheme includes: Fitting your pet with a microchip so they can be identified; getting a blood test, vaccination against rabies, and treatment for tapeworm and ticks – and a certificate to prove this; getting an official PET certificate, and signing a declaration of residency.

However, bear in mind that pets can only be vaccinated against rabies once they reach a minimum age, which is typically three months. You’ll need to have all the relevant documentation with you when going abroad, as well as checking that your pet insurance extends to cover overseas. If not, look for a policy that does, or find out if you can pay a bit extra for your existing policy for this.

 
Many owners will fret that the journey will cause distress to their pets, and travelling of any kind can be a stressful experience for animals.

Depending on the insurance provider, you are likely to be able to extend your cover for all countries included in PETS. This would include cover for vet’s expenses while you are there, and, for example, the loss of, say, a dog passport abroad, so it’s an important part of your pet travel planning.

Vitally, start organising your pet’s trip at least seven months before you leave, as your pet can’t re-enter the UK within six months of having a blood test, and this has to be done at least a month after the rabies vaccination. You’ll need to renew the passport after two years have passed, as that’s how long the vaccination lasts.

So what’s the cost?

In total, the required vaccinations, blood test and documents cost around £200. If your pet is to travel on a plane, check what extra charges you’ll face. Some airlines allow pets to travel as hand luggage, so they’ll be no extra cost, while others charge a fee – this could be a flat rate, or a sliding scale based on the animal’s weight. 

The journey

You’ll need to enter or re-enter the UK on a route approved by PETS. Again, you can get detailed information on this at www.defra.gov.uk.

Many owners will fret that the journey will cause distress to their pets, and travelling of any kind can be a stressful experience for animals. However, there are things you can do to make this an easier experience for them.

Tips include:

Flying: Ensure the container that your pet will travel is big enough for them, so they can turn and lie down without discomfort. You can put their blanket or item that they are used to in the container to provide some familiarity. 

Driving: Take regular breaks for some exercise and for your pet to be fed and drink water, so remember to take food with you. Dogs will be ok outside of a container, but cats should still travel in one.

Before leaving, make sure they’ve gone to the toilet and aren’t hungry. If you’re particularly worried, or know that your pet fears travelling, then you can ask your vet for advice on how to deal with this. They may be able to offer tranquillisers, for example, or expert advice.

What to do on arrival

Give them time to adjust to their new surroundings, so let them have a good walk and look around. 

Travelling back…

All pet dogs, cats and ferrets can re-enter the UK from any country in the world without quarantine as long as they meet the rules of the scheme, which will be different depending on the country or territory the pet is coming from.

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