Taking your dog abroad
The Pet Travel Scheme’s regulations changed on the 1st of January 2012. These changes had implications for those with dogs, cats or ferrets that already had pet passports, and also for those who may now be thinking about taking these species abroad and bringing them back to the U.K.
Previously, dogs, cats and ferrets returning to the U.K. from the E.U. or other certain listed countries could avoid quarantine provided they had met certain conditions. They had to have been microchipped and then vaccinated against rabies. Cats and dogs (not ferrets) then had to have a blood test (usually 3 months after the rabies vaccination) to make sure they had responded to the vaccine. Provided a certain antibody level was reached, they could travel abroad 3 weeks after the rabies vaccine but could not return until 6 months after the blood test was taken (the ‘6-month rule’). 24-48 hours before re-entering the U.K. the pet also had to be treated for ticks and for tapeworms by a vet, and this was then signed off in the passport.
Since the changes at the beginning of 2012, if your dog, cat or ferret is travelling to the E.U. or certain listed countries, they must still be microchipped and given a rabies vaccine, but the pet passport can then be issued. There is now no requirement for a rabies blood test and no ‘6-month rule’. Animals can travel 21 days after the vaccine and then return to the U.K. at any point after this, provided the rabies vaccine is kept up-to-date. The requirement for tick treatment prior to re-entry to the U.K. has been dropped. Tapeworm treatment prior to U.K. re-entry is now required only for dogs – the treatment must be administered by a vet not less than 24 hours and not more than 120 hours (1-5 days) before the dog’s scheduled arrival time in the U.K.. Pets will still have to travel with an approved transport company on an authorised route.
If your dog, cat or ferret is entering the U.K. from an unlisted, non-E.U. country, it must be microchipped and then vaccinated against rabies. These pets will require a blood test at least 30 days after vaccination to check antibody levels, and there will be a 3-month wait prior to re-entry to the UK. There is no requirement for tick treatment prior to UK entry, but tapeworm treatment will be required for dogs only. Again, the pet has to travel with an approved company on an authorised route. . The rules for pets coming from unlisted countries and for species other than dogs, cats and ferrets will vary.
It does seem that the new regulations make it simpler for people to take their pets abroad, and to bring them back to the U.K., however, we would still advise that it is vital to think about the welfare implications of travelling with pets, such as stress, and also the importance of being aware of possible exotic diseases and parasitic infections which pets can be exposed to outside the U.K. The vets here can discuss possible prevention treatments dependent on the likely risk of coming across certain parasites e.g. ticks or tapeworms, or parasite vectors e.g. sandflies or mosquitoes in certain regions.
If you have any queries regarding the Pet Travel Scheme, please go to the DEFRA website: http://www.defra.gov.uk/wildlife-pets/pets/travel/ or contact the DEFRA pet travel helpline on 0870 241 1710, or ourselves on 0113 2369030. We have three L.V.I. vets (Local Veterinary Inspectors) at Holly House who can issue passports or export paperwork; Sarah Brown, Stuart McArthur and Holly Kitson.