Pet Travel Scheme

Since the Pet Travel Scheme was introduced in 2000 hundreds of thousands of animal lovers have used the opportunity to take their pets abroad without the need to leave their dog or cat in quarantine for six months.

The vast majority of these trips have been to mainland Europe via ferry or Eurotunnel and are particularly popular for people with holiday homes overseas.

Don’t forget though, if you are going on holiday, just as in the UK, you will have to check that the hotel will accept pets.

Remember also, that if you are travelling with your pet it will need travel insurance (as will you).

The quarantine laws have successfully protected us from the dangers of rabies, which affects many countries throughout the world, but by following the requirements of the scheme you can take your pets in and out of the country without risk or excessive inconvenience.

From 1 January 2012, there is a wait of 21 days from the date of the first rabies vaccination before a pet can enter or re-enter the UK if you are travelling from an EU or a listed non-EU country. If the vaccine manufacturer’s data sheet requires more than one vaccination to complete the primary course of vaccinations, the 21 day wait applies from the date of the final vaccination of that course. Ask your vet for advice.

A 21 day waiting period is not required for subsequent entries into the UK, provided rabies boosters are kept up to date.

For pets entering the UK from unlisted countries, different rules apply. After your pet has been vaccinated, it must be blood tested to make sure the vaccine has worked, there is then a three month waiting period.

Have your pet microchipped – before any of the other procedures for pet travel are carried out, your pet must be fitted with a microchip so it can be properly identified.

Have your pet vaccinated – after the microchip has been fitted your pet must be vaccinated against rabies. The length of the waiting period before entry to the UK is 21 days after the first vaccination date, see details below.

Get a pet passport – for animals travelling to an EU country, you should get a pet passport. If you are travelling to a non-EU listed country or territory you will need to obtain an official third country veterinary certificate.

Tapeworm – before entering the UK, all pet dogs must be treated for tapeworm.

Costs for all this – between £150-£200 – check with your vet, they may offer all of the above as a package.

More Information

Useful contacts

Travelling with pets: the Pet Travel Scheme is available from the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA).

Booster vaccinations

After your pet has been vaccinated, it will need regular booster vaccinations. These must be kept up to date and be given by the “valid until” date in the relevant section of the EU pet passport or third country official veterinary certificate.

Booster vaccinations are valid for entry to the UK and other EU countries from the date given provided they are given on time (according to the instructions in the vaccine manufacturer’s data sheet where the previous vaccination was given).

If the revaccination date is missed your animal will not meet the conditions of the scheme and will have to be vaccinated again and have to wait 21 days before it can travel under the scheme.

Vaccination record

When your pet is vaccinated, make sure that your vet has recorded the following details on its vaccination record and passport or third country official veterinary certificate:

  • Its date of birth/age
  • The microchip number, date of insertion and location of the microchip on the animal
  • The date of vaccination
  • The vaccine product name
  • The batch number
  • The date its booster vaccination is due (calculated by reference to the vaccine manufacturer’s data sheet).