All you need to know about pet passports
Since February 2000, Brits have been able to apply for a passport for their dogs (including assistance dogs), cats and even ferrets, under the Pets Travel Scheme (PETS). This means that the quarter of British families that own a dog* can choose to take them on their trips abroad.
Pet passports are necessary if you plan to bring your pet to or from a European Union country, or another country from which the UK accepts pet passports – such as the USA, Australia and Japan – without them needing to go through an often-distressing quarantine period.
What is a pet passport?
A pet passport isn’t just a photograph of your furry friend with stamps of where they’ve travelled, it also includes a record of any and all of the vaccinations and other procedures that your pet has had. It’s important because it acts as evidence that your pet is fit and healthy to travel, and is required by the country you’re visiting.
What countries can I take my pet to?
You can take your pet to visit all EU and EEC countries, as well as a large number of others including Argentina, many nations in the Caribbean, the United Arab Emirates, and New Zealand. You can check the full list yourself if you visit Gov.uk
Movement directly to and from the Republic of Ireland is not restricted and therefore isn’t subject to the PETS rules.
How do I apply for a pet passport?
Pet passports are available from certain vets, who can complete the passport forms for you. If your local vet doesn’t issue them, they can give you the details of a practice that does. If the vet doesn’t know a local alternative, you can contact the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA).
When you apply for a pet passport, you will need to take your pet, along with its identity forms, vaccination and other medical records, to the issuing vet. Your pet will be microchipped, if it isn’t already, so it is easily identifiable.
If your pet has an older passport, that contains details of previous blood tests of vaccinations, it’s advisable that you travel with both the out-of-date passport and the new one. You should ask your vet if you think this may apply to your pet.
Last year there were 91,661 pet passports issued by APHA veterinary practises. The highest number issued in one year was in 2015, when 127,657 were taken out.
All APHA data accurate as of December 2017.
What information does a pet passport carry?
Your pet passport should include details of:
- The pet’s ownership
- A description of the pet
- Proof of vaccination against rabies
- Rabies blood test (as required)
- Canine tapeworm treatment (as required)
Full details are available on the Government website.
Why does my dog need a rabies vaccine to qualify?
You need to prove that your pet has been vaccinated against rabies to qualify for a pet passport. This needs to be renewed each year and if it has expired, you won’t be able to travel with your pet – even if its passport is still in date.
You can get a rabies vaccination for your dog, cat or ferret from your vet. If your pet isn’t microchipped before they get their rabies vaccination, they will need to have the vaccination again, once they’ve been microchipped.
What is a veterinary certificate?
An animal coming into the UK that does not have a pet passport must have an official veterinary certificate from the pet’s country of origin. Your pet must arrive in an EU country within 10 days of the certificate being issued.
On arrival, your certificate should be signed and stamped by the authorities. It is then valid for a further four months for travel within the European Union.
The upshot of these requirements, administered under the Pet Travel Scheme, is that most animals will not be required to spend time in quarantine, either in the UK or abroad.
How much does a pet passport cost?
A pet passport will currently set you back £60. However, in order to successfully apply for a pet passport, you will also need a rabies vaccination or a booster, which cost £32.60. Your pet also needs to be microchipped, which is another £20. Therefore, the total cost of getting your pet passport is £112.60.
All APHA data accurate as of December 2017.
What about pet insurance?
It you are taking your pet out of the UK, check whether your pet insurance policy is valid overseas. Either check your documents or call your insurer to ask them whether or not overseas cover is included.
If your pet isn’t covered for travelling abroad, you might be able to extend the cover by paying an additional premium – or in the worst case scenario, you might have to buy another policy.
It’s important that you evaluate the cover that your insurance provides you and your pet when abroad. Some policies may not cover certain countries or territories, even if your pet passport allows you to travel there. It’s also worth looking at what vet cover your policy affords you and what the maximum cover is – vets bills can vary from country to country, so be prepared to pay substantial amounts if you pet falls ill.
Once insured, you would have cover for vet’s expenses while you are abroad. Your insurer will want to know where you are travelling to, and may charge more if you take your pet outside of the EU.
*26% of families own a dog, according to the Pet Food Manufacturing Association’s (PFMA) estimates.