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Pet Passports

Since its introduction in 2000, the PETS Travel Scheme has allowed relatively free movement of pet dogs, cats and ferrets within the qualifying countries once the PETS Scheme criteria are met.


  • Your pet must be micro chipped. This has to be done BEFORE they have a rabies vaccination
  • Your pet needs to have an up to date rabies vaccination. Our practice currently uses a rabies vaccine with three year duration of immunity. This means your pet must have a rabies vaccination every 3 years. Currently, we do not send out reminders for this vaccine.
  • You must have a Pet Passport completed by your vet
  • You must wait 21 days from the date of the rabies vaccination before your pet can re-enter the UK
  • Your dog (dogs only) must be treated for tapeworm 1-5 days (24 to 120 hours) before re-entering the UK by a vet using an approved product. This will be noted in your pet’s Passport.

So far, this seems quite straightforward. Please consider fully the implications of taking your pet abroad before you go and plan accordingly.

Please read on for further vital information.

The aim of the Pets Travel Scheme is to reduce the risk of importing rabies, Echinococcus multilocularis (a tapeworm that can cause potentially fatal illness in humans as well as their pets) and ticks that can carry diseases not currently present in the UK.

Since January 2012, the criteria for the Pets Travel Scheme have been relaxed. One of the requirements used to be a blood test taken to ensure that each pet had responded appropriately to the rabies vaccine. Rabies vaccine gives extremely good protection against the disease but as with any vaccine, a small number of animals do not mount an adequate response to be protected from the disease. There is no way of telling which animals these are without a blood test. Some animals require a second vaccination to respond adequately to rabies. Please talk to your vet if you would like to have a blood test to confirm your pet’s response to the vaccine.

As previously stated, the main aim of the Pets Travel Scheme is to prevent certain zoonotic diseases entering the UK. (A zoonotic disease is one that can be transmitted between animals and humans.) It does NOT reduce the exposure of your pets to disease that are currently not present in the UK. The diseases that your pet may be exposed to depend on the area you are travelling to on holiday.

A few of the main diseases to be concerned about or take precautions to avoid are discussed below:


This disease is carried by ticks. It is found in most of mainland Europe and particularly in the south of France (particularly south of the Loire valley). A tick needs to feed for a minimum of 48-72 hours for transmission of the disease to occur so prompt removal of ticks or use of tick repellent or tick killing products should help to prevent this. The disease can cause severe and life threatening anaemia that can result in multiple organ failure.


This disease is carried by the sand fly. These are found around the Mediterranean basin. The risk of infection passing to humans is low but children are particularly susceptible and dog to dog transmission is possible. The course of the disease is protracted and signs include, weight loss, lameness, enlarged lymph nodes and skin problems. Treatment takes a long time and is not always successful.


This disease is carried by ticks and found in southern Europe and the Mediterranean basin. Some dogs once infected can clear the organism from their bodies and recover spontaneously but others will develop chronic infection which can lead to problems with severe bleeding.


This heartworm is prevalent in North America and southern Europe and is transmitted by mosquitoes. It can cause pulmonary thromboembolism and increased blood pressure leading to signs of coughing, breathing problems and exercise intolerance due to the presence of adult worms in one of the chambers of the heart. The severity of the disease depends on the number of worms present, the amount of time they have been there and the immune response of the infected anima.

Climate change may affect the ability of some of the carriers of these diseases (ticks, sand flies, mosquitoes) to be able to survive in the UK and transmit these diseases so vigilance is necessary to stop then from becoming endemic in the UK.

So, the check list for travelling lengthens considerably when the possibility of exposure to these diseases is factored in:

  • Microchip
  • Rabies vaccine – think about a blood test to ensure adequate response from your pet. A single injection may not give adequate cover.
  • Travel documentation – a Pet Passport, any additional documentation (check with DEFRA for countries outside the PETS Scheme) and you must use and approved route or approved transport company
  • Tapeworm treatment not less than 24 hours and not more than 5 days before arrival time in the UK
  • Tick control - appropriate tick killing preparations, remove ticks immediately with tick hook.
  • Heartworm prevention for the duration of the trip and for a month after return
  • Sand flies - limit exposure by keeping pets inside at dusk and dawn, consider fly repellent collars.
  • Check pet  insurance details for cover whilst outside the UK
  • Speak to microchip company about where you are going on holiday, changing contact details whilst away, consider holiday tags on collars
  • Temperature – may be a lot higher than your pet is used to so take adequate measures with water, shade and not over exercising at hot times of the day 

Speak to us if you have any worries or queries about travelling with your pet. Please check DEFRA website for up to date information and any changes to procedure.

Useful links www.defra.gov.uk click on Wildlife and Pets section

PET Travel Scheme Helpline 0870 241 1710 pettravel@ahvla.gsi.gov.uk

Monday to Friday 8am to 6pm UK time (closed Bank Holidays)