10 things you need to know about taking your pet abroad
- New passports: we can issue a pet passport to a dog, cat or ferret under the EU Travel scheme. This allows you to travel from the UK to EU (and certain non-EU listed) countries with your pet.
- Plan ahead: issuing a new, valid passport for your pet takes just over 3 weeks. We recommend booking an appointment with one of our vets at least a month before you intend to travel. We can also check that your pet is fit and healthy to travel abroad. We also advise you to check that your pet insurance is valid abroad.
- Microchip: your pet must be microchipped before a passport can be issued. Upon entering and leaving the UK, your pet will be scanned to check that their microchip number matches the microchip listed in their passport.
- Rabies vaccination: your pet must be vaccinated for rabies before travel. This can only be done once your pet has been uniquely identified by a microchip. If your pet has not already been microchipped, we can implant a microchip at the same time that the rabies vaccination is administered. After 22 days following vaccination, your pet can travel abroad to an EU country.
- Route: You will need to travel via an “authorised carrier and an approved route”. By sea, this includes most of the mainstream ferry companies. For air travel, check the DEFRA website by searching ‘gov.uk pets air routes’.
- Worming: Before returning to the UK with a dog, you must visit a vet for a tapeworm treatment. The vet will check the microchip, administer the worming treatment and sign and stamp the passport in the relevant worming section. This must be done between 24 hours and 120 hours (5 days) prior to your journey home.
- Rabies boosters: You will need to make sure you keep your pet up to date with their rabies vaccinations for future travel – check the ‘valid until’ date in the rabies section of the passport. If you miss the rabies booster, your pet will have to wait another 22 days before they can travel once it is re-administered.
- Passport renewal: Check your passport carefully each time you travel. Are all entries legible? Have you got enough space for further entries (e.g. tapeworm treatments) to be made? If you have any doubts, please bring your passport to one of our vets to be checked. We can reissue new passports once a current passport becomes full.
- Safe travel: Ask one of our vets for specific advice before you travel – we can provide individual parasite protection plans for your pet depending on the country or area you will visit – see also our section on Protecting your Pet Abroad. Also, always remember how hot a car can become in the sun! Never leave your pet in the car on a warm day, take water for the journey and plan lots of rest stops en route.
- Keep up to date: Different countries often change their local rules for travel. We always advise that you check the requirements of the countries you will visit, including those you will drive through, before you plan your holiday. To do this visit gov.uk/pet-travel-information-for-pet-owners
Protecting your pet abroad
What is required?
The PETS travel scheme ensures that your pet is protected against rabies and must also be treated for tapeworms during travel in Europe. Both of these measures help to protect human and animal health.
Unfortunately there is no legal requirement for you to protect your pet against a multitude of other diseases spread by parasites which could potentially mean your pet is put at unnecessary risk when travelling abroad.
What are the risks for your pet?
You may already be using routine treatment at home for parasites such as fleas and worms; it is still important to keep such treatments up to date.
When travelling within continental Europe, we also advise that you provide protection against:
(spread by mosquitoes)
(transmit infectious disease leishmaniasis which is very difficult to treat)
(spread numerous tick-borne diseases including babesiosis and ehrlichiosis, which can cause death)
What can you do for your pet?
There is no single preparation that protects against all of these parasites, but we can advise which preparations are safe to use in combination for total protection. The treatments you use routinely at home may be suitable to use as part of this combination for parasite protection abroad. Speak to one of our vets to organise the best protection for you and your pet.
Other important measures include preventing infection and checking your pet:
- Start treatment against parasites at least 3 weeks before travel and continue abroad
- Avoid known tick-affected habitats such as woodland and areas with livestock
- Check your pet daily for ticks and remove any you find as soon as possible. Obtain a proper tick-removal device before travel
- Avoid biting flies and mosquitoes by keeping pets indoors between dusk and sunrise
- Allow pets to sleep on a raised platform away from biting fly habitats
- If you will be travelling to a high-risk area, it may be safer to leave your pet at home in the UK
- If you notice any unusual clinical signs or are concerned about your pet’s health, seek veterinary attention immediately
Who else can I ask?
BVA website: www.bva.co.uk/pettravel
DEFRA Pet Travel Scheme Helpline: +44 (0)870 241 1710
DEFRA website: www.defra.gov.uk/wildlife-pets/pets/travel